Fears of closure, funding cuts and redundancies have led to calls from the headteachers union for greater action from our politicians.

Education is a key battleground for the main parties in this General Election, however, the focus has often fallen on the issue of tuition fees at university rather than primary and secondary education.

A survey of small schools across the country, conducted by The National Association of Head Teachers, found that 42 per cent of headteachers had fears over the possibility of closure with 84 per cent saying this is due to the lack of funding.

As a rural region Cumbria has lots of small schools set up for children in the villages and hamlets surrounding the larger towns - in each of these schools similar issues keep popping up.

Graham Frost, Cumbria branch secretary of NAHT, said: “The cost pressures and funding pressures on small schools are really causing a lot of distress and concern among school leaders.

“The thing that I heard at the headteachers’ conference was small school headteachers from across Cumbria particularly saying that educational healthcare plans and small fluctuations in pupil numbers are putting an immense amount of pressure on the school budget.”

However, he is also concerned about how politics might impact these schools.

“The big concern for me is that not all politicians give the impression that they value small schools.”

Funding pressures could have a greater impact on these rural communities than simply losing a school.

The decline of amenities in rural communities means that for many villages, the local school is a hub to bring people together.

Mr Frost said: “When you’ve got rural communities that have already lost the post office, pub, shops, and in some cases the last hub of community life is the school.

“If you consider if that school were to close they would potentially have to travel long distances in order to get their children to school.

“If you consider that this then might mean that they end up moving out of that village or community - we’re talking about the erosion of rural life.”

Across the country, school funding cuts have also led to fluctuating class sizes with a reduction in teachers.

Jill Perry, Green Party candidate for Workington, was educated at a small school so she understands what they bring to the community. Her party is hoping to invest at least £4 billion in education.

“You can concentrate on individual needs and be much more flexible, in that sense its a much more pleasant experience,” she said.

She shares Mr Frost’s thoughts on the impact that small school closures can have on communities.

“It means that people with small families are less likely to move to that particular place because there is no school there so it’s like a vicious circle really,” she said.

Sixty-five per cent of small schools reported having less than four full-time equivalent teachers and 67 per cent have cut back on teaching assistants to save money.

This is something the Liberal Democrats hope to tackle by boosting the number of teachers and increasing wages.

John Studholme, Liberal Democrat candidate for Copeland, said: “In primary education, there are shortages of staff, we would, as a matter of policy, increase the number of staff by 20,000 a year.

“We will increase the wages each year by three per cent per annum.

“Not only do all schools need to receive funding to bring the overall funding in line with the risen cost pressures, there also needs to be a greater amount of adjustment to accommodate the particular financial pressures of small schools,” Graham commented.

Sarah Williams, Labour Party candidate for Penrith and the Border, said: “I would propose that the small schools grant comes back and that per pupil funding is increased in real terms.

“Rural schools are the beating heart of local communities.

“We must protect our small schools by funding them properly.”

The Conservative Party is promising to inject billions of pounds into education over the next three years.

Mark Jenkinson, Conservative Party candidate for Workington, said: “It comes with a minimum funding guarantee of £5,000 per year for a secondary school pupil and £4,000 for a primary school pupil.

“Everybody should have the same opportunity regardless of where they live and who they are and their backgrounds.

“I accept that schools funding in some places has been cut but it’s not as simple as some would like to make out.”