Cabinet minister Gavin Williamson dropped in on the campaign trail of his party’s Cumbrian candidates.

The Education Secretary met Copeland’s Conservative hopeful, Trudy Harrison, to see the progress made at Whitehaven Academy, Workington Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Mark Jenkinson, Simon Fell, the Conservative candidate for Barrow.

Mr Williamson spoke to Whitehaven Academy headteacher Nigel Youngman and chief executive of Cumbria Education Trust Lorrayne Hughes, then had a tour of the school, meeting with staff and answering students in a Q&A session.

Mr Williamson said of his visit: “Trudy has been saying to me I absolutely have to come and see the transformation at Whitehaven Academy. You can see as you go around, it’s a school with a really bright future. You can see the passion and the enthusiasm of the staff and pupils to build something better. I think it will be really treasured by the people of Whitehaven.”

He said Mrs Harrison had helped fight to turn things around at the troubled school.

“Making the voice of the people of Copeland heard, that’s what you want in a local MP. You want someone who is willing to be able to stand up and speak out for their constituents and that’s what you’ve seen in terms of results being delivered in Whitehaven.”

Asked about concerns over possible cuts to school funding, Mr Williamson said: “Funding per pupil is going to increase the year after and the year after that. Funding is going to be going up under a Conservative government.”

He also pledged to help struggling families with the rising cost of uniforms. “We are going to be bringing into legislation to make sure that schools aren’t able to charge excessive amounts for school uniforms.”

Mrs Harrison said: “We are not finished here at Whitehaven Academy. I want Gavin to know how much that £20million is needed for this school. I would also like to add that it is testament to the students, the teachers, the parents, the Whitehaven Academy Action Group in particular, that we’re getting the result here and that investment into the school.”

The minister then joined Mr Jenkinson as he knocked on doors around Stanbeck Meadows to talk to ‘Workington Man’, a key target for the Conservatives to win the election.

He said: “Workington is absolutely a key seat. Labour have been in power for generation after generation after generation. They’ve not been delivering. Workington, Maryport, Cockermouth – they’re all wanting something better and they want to have a strong voice in Westminster. I want to see Mark as an MP for Workington to make it absolutely clear this isn’t a community that is being forgotten or going to be left behind.”

Mr Williamson and Mr Fell knocked on doors in surrounding villages like Swarthmoor. Mr Williamson reiterated a government pledge to increase funding for schools, promising a 5.4 per cent uplift for Barrow and Furness.

Analysis from the National Education Union of the Schools Block (NEU) indicated this year that the government had already broken its promise of a cash increase for every school in the country.

However, Mr Williamson called the NEU’s figures 'complete rubbish' and said the government had delivered 'increased year-on-year funding per pupil right across the country.'

Mr Fell said: “Education funding is a big issue here.

"So it was good to have Gavin restate the commitment to increase funding for every single school - both primary and secondary - across Barrow and Furness.”

Mr Williamson, the former Defence Secretary, also echoed Mr Fell’s comments raising fears around the future of shipyard jobs in Barrow under a prospective Jeremy Corbyn government.

He said: “Barrow has always played a vital role in delivering our national security. I think that's something the whole town should be really proud of."

Other candidates for Copeland include: Tony Lywood (Labour), John Studholme (Lib Dem) and Jack Lenox (Green).

Other candidates for Workington include: Sue Hayman (Labour), Neil Hughes (Lib Dem), Nicky Cockburn (Independent), Jill Perry (Green), Roy Ivinson (Independent) and David Walker (Brexit Party).

Other candidates for Barrow include: Chris Altree (Labour)