AN MP has claimed damning data collected about the state of education funding shows the "serious burdens schools are facing as a result of government cuts" – with one headteacher warning they have "never seen it so bad in 25 years".

A survey sent to all schools in Darlington by the borough's MP Jenny Chapman found 95 per cent of headteachers do not feel optimistic about their schools’ funding over the next three years.

The survey also found only 32 per cent of schools have found the Teacher Pay Grant is sufficient to pay all teachers the increases they are entitled to.

The latest findings come after The Northern Echo revealed the outcome of a special investigation last month which discovered schools are facing an “unprecedented” crisis due to a severe shortage of funding.

The Northern Echo:

Ms Chapman said: “Again and again, headteachers told me about the importance of support staff, despite that being the role where the most staffing cuts have had to be made. Staffing cuts are particularly affecting pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN).

"Whilst the number of specialist staff is decreasing, the number of pupils with SEN is going up. In many cases, this has resulted in non-specialist teaching assistants having to carry the load.

"This is not good enough. It is not good enough for the children, for the parents, or for the teachers who are having to cope with the added pressure that comes with these cuts.

"Changes need to be made from central government to stop putting our schools in the North-East at such a disadvantage. We will fail to give our children the best chance in life if we cannot provide the support that they need to make the most of their education.

Ms Chapman added: "One of the headteachers told me they had never known it so bad in their 25 years of teaching – this says it all.”

As part of the Echo's investigation, staff at schools across Darlington, County Durham and North Yorkshire have said their focus is now on balancing the books rather than providing the best education possible, with one warning mass redundancies are inevitable if the situation doesn’t improve.