Absolute child poverty increased over the course of 2011-12, according to new official figures, which could pose a new challenge to individuals in teaching jobs.
The impact of deprivation on educational attainment was highlighted by exam results last year, with 36.3 per cent of pupils eligible for free school meals attaining five GCSEs, including in English and maths, at grades A*-C, compared to 62.6 per cent of all other children.
Primary and secondary teachers may therefore be concerned by new Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) statistics for households below average income.
According to this dataset, 29 per cent of UK children in 2011-12 lived in absolute poverty - that is, in households with incomes below 60 per cent of 2010-11 median net disposable household income - after housing costs.
This was two percentage points higher than was the case in 2010-11, meaning 300,000 more children were living in absolute poverty in 2011-12 than a year previously.
Meanwhile, the proportion of children deemed to be in relative poverty, because they lived in households with incomes below 60 per cent of contemporary median net disposable household income, remained stable at 27 per cent after housing costs.
Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith nonetheless highlighted the work the government was doing to tackle child poverty by raising work incentives for their parents.
He added: "Today's figures underline the need for better measures of child poverty that are not so heavily dependent on where we draw the poverty line.
"Our new approach with wider measures is not designed to hide the scale of child poverty in this country, but to make clear the real challenge we face so we can start dealing with it properly."
Yet Matthew Reed, chief executive of charity The Children's Society, commented that rising child poverty levels in one of the world's richest countries was "neither inevitable nor acceptable".
He warned the real number of children living in poverty is likely to be even higher now than it was when these figures were recorded and called on the government to "take radical action to get the fight to tackle child poverty back on track".
Posted by Alan Douglas