The entire board of governors at a school in Farnborough has been sacked, Get Hampshire can reveal.

Hampshire County Council (HCC) has stepped in at Cove School after it was placed in special measures by schools watchdog Ofsted in June.

A team of four inspectors descended on the school in St John's Road over March 27-28, led by Rob Ridout.

Their report, published on June 3, said progress made by pupils during the past two years had been inadequate, and remained uneven across many subjects, adding teachers did not always have high enough expectations of students.

The school, which caters for nearly 1,000 pupils aged 11 and 16, was subsequently downgraded from its May 2011 'good' inspection to 'inadequate' as a result.

On Wednesday (September 3), HCC confirmed to the News & Mail it had applied to secretary of state for education Nicky Morgan to have the 15-strong board governors at Cove School removed.

In a statement, HCC said: "In the case of Cove School, Ofsted concluded that although the school's leaders and governors had identified the school’s weaknesses, their view of students’ progress and the quality of teaching was too generous.

"They felt the governing body had not held leaders to account effectively for the under-achievement of students and that the school’s capacity for sustained improvement was weak."

'Best interests'

When a school is deemed inadequate by Ofsted and judged to require special measures, the education authority, in this case, HCC, is entitled to step in and provide specialist support to try and turn the school's fortunes around.

This gives the council statutory powers to intervene if necessary, via the secretary of state. These include applying to remove a school's governing body and replacing it with an interim executive board (IEB), or even closing the school entirely.

Councillor Peter Edgar, HCC's executive member for education, said: “The priority of the local authority is to work with the school to provide the support and challenge necessary to secure rapid improvement.

"While we are grateful to the governors for their support of the school and their generosity in devoting time to carry out their governing body duties, we believed that it was in the best interests of the school and its students to apply to the secretary of state to appoint an IEB to replace the governing body.

"The secretary of state has agreed our assessment and the application. The members of the IEB that have been appointed have the balance of skills needed, and specialist experience in secondary education, to enable the school to improve substantially and rapidly.

“When the school has moved out of special measures, work will begin to appoint a new governing body to replace the IEB and there will be opportunities for parents, staff and local community leaders to apply to serve as a Cove School governor."

A spokesman for the school said that it was unable to comment further at this time until it had undertaken discussions with the IEB.

Following the June report, former chairman of governors Caroline Pickup told the News & Mail the judgement was "harsh" and failed to take into account the school's "extraordinary staffing issues", including a dozen changes in maths personnel alone during the past three years.