Its report says Thurrock's education department has raised standards significantly and improved its relationship with schools since it became a unitary authority in 1998. But it points to serious weaknesses in the leadership and implementation of the education development plan that senior officers had failed to address with 'sufficient rigour'.
A team of specialists have since been brought in to strengthen the education service.
'We've acted quickly to ensure continued progress in the education service for Thurrock,' said cabinet member for learning Margaret Jones (Lab). She said the report was too harsh at times and did not reflect Thurrock's successes.