Senior figures in Brighton and Hove have been challenged over their approach to school places and standards.
A report to Brighton and Hove City Council said: “Educational attainment in the city is improving but we were struck by what appeared to be limited ambition to improve aspirations and outcomes around schools and education.
“There is also a significant issue in relation to school places in future years, with planning and action required now to avoid around 750 children facing being without a place in 2021.
“There is also an issue for 2018, involving some children facing being placed in schools that may not be their preference and involving long journeys from home.
“While these issues are being actively considered by the council, we were surprised by how relatively late in the day this appears to be happening.
“Overall, we question the strength of the relationship between the council and schools.”
The council asked for a “corporate peer challenge” review, managed by the Local Government Association, the national organisation that represents councils.
Senior figures from other councils – elected members and officials – visited in June to help Brighton and Hove in its quest to improve.
Although the visit and the report were not an inspection, the findings were focused on challenging the council and helping it to raise its performance.