Croydon's two main political parties brought their national education chiefs to the borough as the general election race gathered pace.

Conservative education secretary Nicky Morgan and Tristram Hunt, Labour's shadow secretary of state for education, visited Croydon Central schools last week to back their parties' candidates in the fight for the hotly contested seat.

Mrs Morgan held roundtable talks, chaired by Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell, with secondary school headteachers at Quest Academy in South Croydon, while Mr Hunt visited Shirley's Benson Primary with former pupil and Labour candidate Sarah Jones. 

Their visits last week came with less than 100 days left in the countdown to the election and polls suggesting Mrs Jones could seize control of the seat, won by Mr Barwell in 2010 by a slim 2,969 votes.

The Conservative MP on Thursday invited the heads of each Croydon Central secondary school to quiz Mrs Morgan, who faced questions on fair funding and teaching quality.

She acknowledged a funding distribution system that leaves Croydon schools out of pocket compared to those of other boroughs was "unfair", but said budget constraints had delayed the introduction of a fair funding formula.

The education secretary also popped into lessons and was ambushed by a Year 7 pupil with a question about the Government's tuition fees. However, Mrs Morgan steered clear of any revelations and stayed on-message, telling him: "More people are going to university now and that’s really good."

Her Labour adversary placed unqualified teachers and free schools on the agenda during his visit to Croydon on Wednesday.

Mr Hunt said: "The really rapid rise in the number of unqualified teachers in the borough is going to harm standards." 

With 86 days until the 2015 general election, follow the Croydon Guardian's election channel for the latest coverage.