In 2001 the then government awarded a ten-year £360 million contract to private company Serco, operating as Education Bradford, to help run schools after the Council received a damning Ofsted report.

Under Mrs Tunstall, the children’s services department had to prove the authority was fit to take the services back after the contract expired in 2011.

Mrs Tunstall said: “What we had to do was convince the Secretary of State that Bradford Council was fit and able to resume responsibility for education.

“We all worked very hard at this and often went to see the Secretary of State, first Ed Balls then Michael Gove, to make our case.

“The important thing was we ask the people of Bradford what we should do. They said they felt it should be the local authority that runs schools. Both Secretaries of State said the service could be transferred back to us.

“Since then there has been a much better partnership between the Council and head teachers. We didn’t have that before. In our first Ofsted inspection they deemed our partnership working to be outstanding.”

One of the biggest changes in schooling in recent years has been the introduction of free schools and academies. Free from Council controls but funded by the taxpayer, there have been a number of free schools and academies set up across the district.

The issue has become highly divisive and politically charged, but Mrs Tunstall said: “I take the view that these are Bradford children going to Bradford schools. It doesn’t matter what type of school it is.

“We have every type of school in Bradford, and it is easy to get hung up on governance. But it is education and welfare of the pupils that really matters.

“That has always been my approach. I work with free schools and academies the same way I work with Council-run schools.

“We have the secondary partnership that includes free schools and academies.

“Dealing with the changes they have brought has been a challenge, but I love a challenge.”