Primary and secondary teachers in some parts of the country are teaching classes in which a large proportion of their pupils are living in poverty, new figures have indicated.
Researchers from the Campaign to End Child Poverty found that 20.2 per cent of the UK's children were living in households earning less than 60 per cent of median income the poverty line overall in 2012, but that in some areas of large cities child poverty levels were substantially higher.
London figured prominently among the local authority areas with the worst child poverty levels: Tower Hamlets was first on the list at 42 per cent, while Islington was sixth at 34 per cent and Newham 13th with 32 per cent.
Manchester had the second highest rate of child poverty of any local authority, with 38 per cent, while Middlesbrough was third with 37 per cent and Liverpool, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Hartlepool also made the top ten on around 33 per cent each.
By contrast, child poverty rates were below five per cent on the Isles of Scilly and in South Northamptonshire.
There were also major differences within regions, with Richmond in London and Ribble Valley in the north-west both possessing child poverty rates of just seven per cent.
At a more localised level, child poverty rates exceed 50 per cent in 69 local wards, concentrated primarily in the north-east and to a lesser extent the north-west, although this was down from 100 in 2011.
End Child Poverty chair Enver Solomon commented: "Far too many children whose parents are struggling to make a living are having to go hungry and miss out on the essentials of a decent childhood that all young people should be entitled to."
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions insisted that the government was committed to tackling child poverty, but was taking a new approach by tackling "root causes" such as worklessness, educational failure and family breakdown.
The impact of poverty on pupil attainment is exacerbated by inequalities within the education system, with the UK faring poorly on this indicator on recently published Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development tables.
The number of children on free school meals achieving five or more A* to C GCSEs, including in English and maths, was 36.3 per cent in 2011/12, compared to 62.6 per cent of all other pupils, although this is the lowest this gap has been in the past five years.
Posted by Theo Foulds