Addressing the Society of Education Officers conference in Harrogate Mrs Shephard said: ' Over recent years schools have rightly been given more say in the way they are run but this does not mean that LEAs should shut up shop.
'They have an important role to play, not least, in supporting school improvement and helping to raise standards.
'Raising standards remains my highest priority. Standards have risen steadily in recent years, but we must do more if we are to match the best of our international competitors.
'That is why I want all schools to set themselves measurable targets.
'LEAs can help schools to set stretching but achievable targets. Some LEAs have a good track record in this area. I hope it is not invidious if I mention Shropshire, Suffolk, West Sussex, and Birmingham as examples.
'OFSTED will also be looking at what LEAs do to help their least effective schools. LEA intervention cannot be confined to the small number of schools identified by OFSTED as requiring special measures.
'That is why we are considering giving LEAs the power to issue formal warnings to schools with serious weaknesses.
'The warning would set out the nature of the school's problems, and the action needed to deal with it.'
Mrs Shephard went on to outline a range of areas in which LEAs have an important role to play:
Behaviour support plans: The main responsibility for managing pupils' behaviour must lie with schools themselves. But LEAs have a vital role in supporting schools and ensuring that provision for pupils with behaviour problems is properly balanced and co-ordinated.
Networking: LEAs have many useful contacts with other council departments, health and criminal justice agencies, voluntary bodies and local employers. They can do a great deal to help schools.
Drug Action Teams: LEAs are key members of Drug Action Teams helping schools develop consistent messages to persuade young people not to take drugs.
School - business links: LEAs can add value to the work of schools by encouraging and helping the development of school-business links.
Mrs Shephard said:
' The principle of self-government is here to stay. That means a permanent change in LEA attitudes and behaviour.
'Some are adapting well to the new environment. Now the rest need to learn from the best.'