Schools are back, students have arrived, and the nights are drawing in. The start of a new term has commenced with its seasonal rhythms.

In Parliament, two new reports also hit the press on the state of education. Both exposed the damning inequality which favours the south and areas of affluence.

The Child of the North All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), of which I am part, launched its research highlighting how schools in the North received significantly less funding than those in the South; and how children are more likely to experience physical and mental health challenges, leading to suppressed life chances.

On average, schools in London received £6,610 per pupil compared to Yorkshire and the Humber where just £5,938 was invested.

When the microscope is placed over these figures, the Dedicated School’s Grant funding allocation for pupils in York was ranked 135 out of the 151 local authorities.

This is something highlighted by the f40 network, a collection of 43 of the lowest funded Local Authorities for education (including York) which have banded together to lobby for better funding.

As highlighted by f40, schools in York receive £4,000 - £5,000 less per child than the highest-funded local authority, Camden - which receives more than £11,000 per child.

This is an injustice that must be tackled, and MPs have written to the Chancellor demanding such. York’s children must have the opportunities that others enjoy.

When we look at the attainment of York pupils, it just shows how they are punching far above their weight, a credit to them, their teaching and support staff, and their families. However, this questions what York’s children could achieve if there was a fair funding formula.

When we turn our attention to SEND (children with Special Educational Needs and Disability) and disadvantage, we witness even greater injustice. Not only lower funding for their education, but the High Needs Block funding also around the bottom third of local authority areas. We have some outstanding practice in York, supporting children who have additional needs, however, this is far from a universal experience. Parents will concur. Many children are struggling with school, many parents are struggling with the system.

The word I most commonly hear is 'battle'. Getting an EHCP (Education Health and Care Plan) takes an age, often dependent on a long-awaited diagnosis from the health services. Every day that passes, children are lost in the system.

Underfunding is at the root of much of this disadvantage, but we also must recognise that if support staff are not valued, are forced onto term-only contracts and squeezed out of the system, then schools also have to own their failings.

The campaign group, f40, representing the 40 lowest-funded areas, highlights how an additional £4.6bn is needed to support SEND in schools. This action is backed by the Early Years Alliance, the National Governance Association and the trade unions working in this space.

If education were of such value to the Government and if children were really believed to be the future, then money could be found: £4.6bn accounts for just 0.2 per cent of the national income. Education only draws down 4.2 per cent in total, far below the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average of 5 per cent.

We used to boast of the best education in the world, but today, teachers are cash-strapped, often buying the extras themselves - from breakfasts to stationery - from their wages.

As Parliament returned, we heard the opportunity for such investment in our children being diverted, with RAAC (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete), the latest crisis, sucking funding needed to keep classes open and children educated. Fortunately, for York, this was not an issue, but the challenges of the school estate most certainly is. We have two schools in the queue for capital investment, although many more should be.

Back to the APPG Child of the North report, ‘Addressing Education and Health Inequity: Perspectives from the North of England.’ Schools should be at the centre of the community for our young people, hubs which deliver a range of services to children and their families. The last Labour government made this so, the next Labour government will not hold back from doing the right thing, not least for children with SEND. The report promotes the SUCCESS programme (Supporting Understanding of Children’s Communication, Emotional and Social Skills). We need Government to fund this too.

The bottom line is this. If there is a fair funding formula, if there is investment into education, and if we really value the opportunity that education brings, then the long-term costs will lessen and we will have a far better economy and society in the future. Labour famously said that our priority is ‘Education, Education, Education’ - 26 years on, this must be so.

It is not much to ask, but I am asking the Chancellor to get his books in order.

Rachael Maskell is the Labour MP for York Central