WOLDINGHAM school, described in the Good Schools Guide as "a truly super girls' boarding school," was truly embarrassed when it emerged this week that a handful of governors had suddenly forced the head to resign.
Maureen Ribbins left her pound;60,000-a-year post at the independent Roman Catholic school after a meeting with two governors on August 7, at which they are said to have told her that parents and staff had no confidence in her.
Mrs Ribbins is understood to have been offered the equivalent of a year's salary if she agreed to go - and not to talk.
Parents at the pound;14,000-a-year school have simply been told that after "discussions" with the governors Mrs Ribbins would leave at the end of August.
Mrs Ribbins came to the school three years ago from the headship of Wolverhampton girls' high school. Shy and scholarly, she had a hard task o follow the formidable and charismatic Philomena Dineen, the school's first lay head.
But, her supporters say she had worked hard with staff, consolidated the school's expansion to 550 pupils, introduced a new system of pastoral care and this year presided over the school's best-ever GCSE results.
A survey of parents last year found that 90 per cent were satisfied with the school.
Three of the school's governors, including Father Christopher Jamison, the headmaster of Worth School in Crawley, West Sussex, have resigned in protest at the way the matter was handled.
The school has also lost the services of Tim Devlin, its public relations consultant. Mr Devlin, a former director of the Independent Schools Information Service, said: "I could not support or even defend the decision to ask Mrs Ribbons to leave at this juncture."