MORE and more children are arriving at primary school "not school-ready", Labour's shadow education secretary has said on a visit to Runcorn.

Angela Rayner said children "haven't got that nourishment right from the start" during a visit to Windmill Hill Primary School, in one of Runcorn's most deprived areas.

On a tour of the school, headteacher Paula Newman explained that more children came to Windmill Hill with limited literacy skills compared with primary schools in more affluent areas.

Ms Rayner told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "Being around the school today and listening to the headteacher one of the main things that kept coming up over and over again is the children that are coming in that are not school-ready.

"We believe that the offer to two, three and four-year-olds of 30 hours of free childcare will really lift that up for a lot of children, because a lot of children at the moment don’t access that under the current government’s offer.

"And we're putting money into the providers as well so it's about education, about making sure those children get the support right from the early years, and our schools will be given the funding they need."

However, she declined to state how much extra funding the Labour Party would give to education, saying: "Our manifesto is on Thursday, I would love to tell you what's in it right now but I think I'll be in trouble if I do that.

"We will also publish our 'grey book' again which will give all the costings for our manifesto pledges.

"What I would encourage is all other political parties to do exactly the same, because at the moment they say Labour can't afford (policies), but actually all political parties have now found a magic money tree."

The Conservative government has already promised to raise school spending by £7.1 billion by 2022, taking it back to roughly the level it was in 2009/10.

Announcing the policy in September, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson described it as "The biggest cash boost in a generation", and said: "[This] means our schools can continue to raise standards and build an education system that boosts productivity, improves social mobility and equips children with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the bright future that lies ahead."

As well as extra funding, Ms Rayner promised the Labour Party would give teachers "the status they deserve" and "the opportunity to teach" by replacing Ofsted with a full-time inspectorate and abolishing primary schools SATs.

She said: "I find that a lot of primary schools are saying is the constant testing of children at that early age is really detrimental to the broad curriculum that they want to offer.

"You've seen how fantastic this school is and what they're trying to do, so we've said that we’ll scrap baseline assessments in key stage 1 and 2 because we want to make sure that we’re nurturing our young people.

"Far too many young kids are leaving primary school with mental health problems now, it’s completely unacceptable."

She added that this would help stop teachers leaving the profession, a problem that has led to instability and falling standards at some Halton schools in recent years.

Labour's Weaver Vale candidate Mike Amesbury, who is hoping to be re-elected as MP for the area, added after the visit to the school: "Windmill Hill is one of the most deprived areas of my constituency and matters have been made significantly worse by almost a decade of Tory cuts.

"Regardless of our politics, we all want the best for our children and Windmill Hill Primary has had its budgets cut massively under this government.

"It's a huge credit to teachers and staff, parents and pupils at this fantastic school that despite these funding challenges they still manage to excel."

His Conservative opponent in Weaver Vale, Adam Wordsworth, said of his party’s education policies: "For too long, the further education sector has lagged behind the higher education sector in terms of funding and status.

"Yet the need to equip our young people with the skills of the future is greater than ever.

"A majority Conservative government will transform the further education system, levelling up across the entire country with a huge new rebuilding programme worth £1.8 billion.

"Under the last Labour government, at least 350,000 young people were let down by courses which had ‘little or no labour market value’, while the number of young people not in education, employment or training rose by a quarter of million under Labour."