Respected former education secretary Estelle Morris has revealed Birmingham schools face "exciting times" as she prepares to take the helm of a body set-up to improve standards in the city's classrooms.

Baroness Morris, a former Coventry school teacher, was Yardley MP from 1992 to 2005 and an education minister in Tony Blair's government for five years, including one year as secretary of state.

Next month, she is due to take charge of improving performance at city schools in her new role as head of the Birmingham Education Partnership (BEP).

The partnership, a rapidly growing group of more than 300 school headteachers, has appointed Baroness Morris of Yardley as chairman as it takes over responsibility for school improvement from Birmingham City Council.

She said: "I'm thrilled to be involved with BEP and to chair the organisation.

"I very much look forward to working with teachers across the city as we move forward and take on challenges, sharing good practice and improving leadership and the quality of our schools.

"I think BEP will be a very important body, it will be a place where we can all come together. It's going to be exciting times, even if they are challenging times."

BEP is adopting the city's district structure, with a head teacher from each of Birmingham's ten constituency areas being appointed as "district leaders".

They will work with clusters of schools, identifying problems and sharing best practice.

BEP will also drive initiatives to train school governors, with a recruitment campaign already under way.

New rigorous checks will be in place to prevent any potential extremists slipping through the net in a bid to stop a repeat of the Trojan Horse scandal.

The debacle saw five Birmingham schools being plunged into special measures by Ofsted last year after allegations surfaced of a plot by hardline Muslims to take over governing bodies.

BEP, which has been commissioned to carry out the work for the council over the next three years, aims to boost the number of schools being deemed by education watchdog Ofsted as 'good' or 'outstanding'.

As of last December, just 53 per cent of Birmingham's 418 schools were rated 'good' - seven per cent fewer than the national average.

Twenty-four schools (six per cent) were 'inadequate' including the five at the centre of the Trojan Horse plot.

Baroness Morris added: "The creation of BEP is an important milestone on the journey towards a model where schools are responsible for their own improvement and the improvement of others.

"All of the research tells us this works best and you have many teaching schools and leaders of education to draw on.

"But schools must not be isolated from each other and need to be part of a wider education community. Trojan Horse taught us that lesson."

She said the partnership would build relations with universities, the council and business.

Meanwhile, Tim Boyes will be seconded from Queensbridge School in Moseley for 12 months to take up the role as chief executive at BEP.

Current chief executive Alastair Falk will become BEP's director of partnerships.