A FORMER teacher blamed a “toxic culture” at a Basildon school where 20 teachers are leaving in a mass exodus this summer.

Woodlands School, in Nethermayne, Basildon, has confirmed the teachers are leaving, but insisted this is seasonal change after very few members of staff moved on during the pandemic.

The school’s headteacher has stated “the majority” of vacancies have now been filled, but a former teacher has claimed a “toxic work environment” where staff are “not respected” is to blame for the exits.

The teacher, who worked at the school for more than ten years, said: “Recent management made it impossible for many experienced and talented staff to continue to work there.

“They have created a toxic work environment for his staff, we were not respected.

“Staff are not backed with behavioural issues. This is the reason why staff are leaving; it is not a nice environment to work in.”

Parents have also painted a worrying picture at the school, raising a number of concerns after the Echo highlighted the teachers leaving.

She said: “I have had to complain about my kids not being fed at lunchtime because they were running out of food daily, they were made to stand in the rain to eat their lunch during Covid, with their food becoming inedible, one of my children wore the wrong socks on his first PE lesson and got detention.”

Woodlands School is run by the Takely Education Trust.

The school repeatedly failed to respond to the Echo last week, and has refused to address claims made by the former teacher.

In a press release yesterday, headteacher David Wright said: “Over the past three years and through the Covid-19 pandemic, few members of the teaching staff have moved on from Woodlands School. Some members of staff have decided now is the time to take their teaching careers elsewhere.

“This led to a number of vacancies being available for the start of the 2022/23 academic year.

“We appreciate this number may have caused some concern amongst parents, but I am pleased to say almost all of the 20 vacancies have now been filled, with recruitment continuing for the final vacant positions. We are confident we have a fantastic learning environment and also a supportive working environment for our staff.”

A spokesman for the Takely Education Trust said: "We pride ourselves on building open and honest relationships with our employees and parents/carers. Should any parent or colleague wish to discuss anything pertaining to the running of the school we, as a Trust Board, have clear and rigorous processes in place within the School’s Policies to ensure that all feedback or concerns are reviewed and responded to appropriately."