COUNCIL leader Peter Fox said he was disappointed with the findings but said the authority would use the recommendations to move forward.

He said learners in Monmouthshire had access to some of the best schools in Wales but the authority had been penalised when compared with other areas, which have a larger number of children who receive free school meals. Monmouthshire has just a 10 per cent uptake in free school meals and achievements in education are marked against this figure.

He said parents could be reassured their children were getting a good education, with its schools ranked among the best in the country in the foundation phase, Key Stage 1 and 2. He admitted more needed to be done to challenge secondary schools to do better.

Monmouthshire has 36 schools, four of which are secondary; Caldicot, Chepstow, King Henry VIII Comprehensive and Monmouth Comprehensive.

It becomes the second Gwent council education department to be placed in special measures. Blaenau Gwent council’s education department was placed in special measures after an Estyn inspection in May 2011 deemed the department “unsatisfactory”.

Education commissioners were brought in to take over its running and the executive member for education at the time, Cllr Stephen Bard, resigned from his post.

The Argus reported in December that education minister Leighton Andrews said things had improved and had decided that the roles of two advisory education commissioners would cease and the two part-time education commissioner roles would become one full-time role.

Cllr Fox said there had been no indication from the Welsh Government that commissioners would be brought in to Monmouthshire.