Councillors have clashed over asking the Government for more funding for Cumbrian schools.

Ruling Liberal Democrat and Labour county councillors backed the call but a Conservative amendment to the motion was defeated 41 votes to 33.

Cabinet member for education Cllr Sue Sanderson of Ulverston, told a county council meeting that extra money was needed for maintenance and special education needs pupils.

She said teachers, parents, children, councillors, MPs and professional organisations were united in their concerns about funding.

Government cash to the council for maintenance had been cut by nearly £2 million, said Cllr Sanderson, a former teacher and Liberal Democrat councillor for Cartmel.

“Our children are living their lives now and we must make sure they get the best education they possibly can,” said Cllr Sanderson, of Ulverston.

Some teachers are at “breaking point,” according to fellow Lib Dem, Cllr Rebecca Hanson, of Cockermouth North.

However, Conservative councillor Ben Shirley called the motion “political posturing” designed to curry favour in next month’s elections.

Cllr Shirley said the opposition supported the “spirit” of the motion but outlined a range of Government money awarded to Cumbrian schools.

He said £370,000 had been awarded to 24 capital projects, including £50,000 to Dowdales School in Dalton, and an £8.4M project for 18 schools, including eight in South Lakeland.

“In Cumbria, there are now 50 more good or outstanding schools than when the Conservatives came into Government in 2010,” said Cllr Shirley for Dalton North.

Conservative Cllr Gareth Ellis said there was now an extra 920,000 pupils nationally and schools faced rising costs. Teacher pension contributions are rising from 16% to 23%, he said, and schools now had to find extra money to pay support staff the national living wage.

County council leader Stewart Young said the Conservative opposition failed to recognise the “crisis” facing schools.

The Labour councillor for Upperby said: “The Government is increasingly cutting the funding to local government and then holding money back so they can dish it out in ring-fenced parcels, accompanied by a press release saying how brilliant they are.”

Cllr John Mallinson, the Conservative for Houghton and Irthington, said the ruling Labour and Liberal Democrats had never proposed an alternative apart from “screaming their heads off for more funding”.

Labour cabinet member Cllr Anne Burns said headteachers spoke with “one voice” about the problem and accused the Tories of living a “fairytale”.

The original motion was eventually agreed in a cross-party show of hands.