Inspectors will be sent in to investigate how schools are run. If the councils are found to be delivering an inadequate service, a team of managers, academics and officials will be appointed to take over.
Although the power to take over failing schools was opposed by Labour in opposition, schools minister Stephen Byers said the measures were 'all we've got' and the government would 'not shrink from using this power to raise standards'.
On Thursday Mr Byers will announce the number of schools on the hitlist, with the schools to be informed and names released next week.
Labour sources were quoted as saying that Kent, which runs 39 grammar schools, has some of the worst schools in the country as well as some of the best.
The county's inclusion in the review could reinforce demands for the abolition of grammar schools by some Labour party members.