The country’s poorest parents have half the chance of getting their child into an outstanding primary school compared to the richest ones, according to new research by Teach First.
The findings came on the same day as an NUT poll revealed a growing problem of "holiday hunger" affecting disadvantaged pupils.
Teach First found that only 15 per cent of children from the poorest 30 per cent of families currently attend a primary school rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted, compared to 27 per cent of children from the richest 30 per cent of families.
Top schools tend to be in better-off areas
The research also revealed that 11 per cent of children in the most disadvantaged families currently attend a primary which requires improvement or is deemed inadequate, compared to just 6 per cent of the richest ones.
The inequality continues at secondary school, with 24 per cent of the poorest children going onto a school rated as inadequate or requiring improvement, compared to just 10 per cent of their wealthiest peers.
Brett Wigdortz, the chief executive and founder of Teach First, said: “We know that all families care about giving their children the best possible start in life, but as outstanding schools are unfairly concentrated in richer communities, poorer families are finding themselves priced out.
“As a society we must challenge the idea that where a child is from, or how rich their parents are, determines whether they get access to an outstanding education.”
The Teach First analysis was published on the same day as the findings of an NUT poll in which more than half of respondents said their pupils were affected by “holiday hunger”.
While many children from poor families are eligible for free school meals during term times, the union said it had heard anecdotal evidence of a growing problem of hunger among children during the holidays.
'A large number of pupils are consistently hungry'
According to its survey, which was responded to by 619 primary school members, 51 per cent said that pupils at their schools suffered holiday hunger.
Of those respondents who said they had witnessed holiday hunger, 37 per cent said they had seen pupils returning to school with signs of malnourishment.
And 80 per cent of respondents reporting holiday hunger said the numbers affected had increased over the last two years.
One respondent said: “It’s heart-breaking to hear children not wanting holidays because they don’t get to eat enough”.
Another commented: “A large number of pupils are consistently hungry, not just in the holidays. Weekend are a particularly worrying time for pupils and a large number of pupils have just one main meal a day – school lunch.”
Kevin Courtney, the NUT’s general secretary, said: “When children come to school hungry or malnourished, this has a negative impact on their physical and mental wellbeing and it also impairs their ability to learn by reducing their ability to concentrate.”
He said the government needed to take “urgent action” by adopting a “serious poverty reduction strategy”, including the implementation of universal free school meals for primary children and measures to tackle holiday hunger.