New research from the Department of Education at Oxford University suggests there are many ways to boost a disadvantaged pupil’s chances of getting good results.
They include going to a decent nursery, reading for pleasure, attending an outstanding school, taking part in school trips and doing homework every day.
The study looked at data drawn from more than 3,000 young people.
Children from the age of three were tracked for the Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) project.
Researchers found that 33 per cent of bright but disadvantaged students took one or more A-levels in so-called “facilitating” subjects, compared to 58 per cent of their wealthier peers with the same academic ability.
They include subjects such as English literature, maths, physics, biology, chemistry, geography, history and languages.
Further analysis found that sixth-formers who did two to three hours of homework each night were nine times more likely to gain three A-levels than those who did none.
Less than 18 per cent of the poorer students followed gained at least a B in these subjects, compared to 41 per cent of their advantaged classmates.
Report authors said: “Spending time on homework is likely to reflect both student motivation and engagement, study skills and independence, school policies and the priority teachers attach to encouraging students to study at home, as well as parental attitudes and support.”
The study highlighted parents who actively encourage their children outside of school help to further increase their children’s chance of getting good results.
Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust which commissioned the report, said: “The fact that bright disadvantaged students fall so far behind when they reach their A-levels shows that government and schools urgently need to do more to support able students from less advantaged homes.
“We must ensure that access to the best schools and opportunities for academic enrichment outside school are available to all students.
“It is also vital that schools advise their students on the right subject choices at GCSE and A-level so as to maximise their potential.”