East London school pens letter to parents amid financial fears

An east London school has penned an open letter to parents highlighting the financial dangers it is facing amid rising bills and a lack of government support.

Steven Hogan, headteacher at Woodbridge High School in Woodford, wrote to parents warning of staff cuts as a result of the soaring cost of living.

Rising teacher salaries and energy bills, which have reportedly increased by a staggering 400%, has put staff jobs at risk, Hogan told parents. 

As a Local Authority Maintained School, Woodbridge operates on a strict financial budget set out by the government.

And despite the east London school saving cash from the previous financial year, it may not be enough.

In the letter, Hogan said: “I am telling you all of this because if we end up having to lose staff, which currently seems very likely, it will be your children who will get a worse deal.

“I will do all I can to reduce the impact of these de facto government cuts, but some impact will be inevitable. Not to mention the fact that good people will be lost to Woodbridge.

“Our school and our kids mean the world to me and I simply feel sick at the thought have having to lose what we do so well.”

Hogan told North East Londoner that, in 2023, schools are expected to act not just as an educational institutions but a place of both mental and familial support for children.

And this, of course, comes at a financial cost. 

Hogan said: “There is so much that schools are doing to pick up deficits in public services more widely.

“A really good example of this is provision around adolescent mental health.

“We’re seeing a huge increase in anxiety among students or that of other quite severe mental health needs.

“So we have to spend money on things like counselling, wellbeing support is just one example of that.

“If we didn’t need to spend this money, maybe the budget would be less of an issue.”

Hogan claimed this is not an issue facing Woodbridge alone and the east London school is just one victim of a public sector facing massive decline and falling standards across the board.

While a multitude of factors must be considered, Hogan claimed government funding is central to the issues facing schools.

He said: “I think schools are not being adequately funded for the service they’re expected to provide.

“My example at Woodbridge really clearly says that now. 

“I want those people who are in power to acknowledge how they can set up and set out a way going forward to help us to resolve that situation.

“I think the government needs to listen to headteachers who actually do the budget every year, and if they say ‘our budget doesn’t work’ the government can’t just claim that it does.”

Contrastingly, the government claims last year’s funding increase for schools, which came to around £660k for Woodbridge, is one of the largest in recent history.

In context, the school receives around £12 million in funding each year.

As a result of this call to action, Woodbridge has seen a swell of public support from its local community.

Leader of Redbridge Council Jas Athwal, penned his own letter in support of Hogan’s cause, calling on the government to do more.

Hogan added that parents have been equally supportive, campaigning on the school’s behalf to help save its staff.

Ultimately, Woodbridge is just one of many schools facing an incoming crisis and calling on the government for additional help.

It remains to be seen if this help will arrive in time.

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

Featured image provided by Woodbridge High School

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