A new report has found that poor white boys are less likely to succeed than any other group of children at GCSE.
The Centre for Social Justice, which was set up by Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith after he quit as Tory leader, found that over the period 2007-2012 the gap in performance between poor white boys and the average for all pupils widened.
White British boys receiving free school meals – a measure of classroom disadvantage - were performing much worse than other deprived groups of pupils.
Only one in four white British boys on free school meals gained five A*-C GCSE grades, including English and Maths, last year, compared with 40 per cent of black boys and 63 per cent of all other pupils on free school meals. The think-tank also found that white girls from worse-off families fall short of their contemporaries in ethnic and cultural minorities too.
Christian Guy, the centre's director, said: "These figures are sobering. They suggest that despite much money and effort white working-class boys are in danger of becoming an educational underclass.
"They are falling further behind other disadvantaged groups and they lag far behind the majority of pupils. We need to take a close look at the reasons behind this growing inequality and reassess the measures we are taking to close the performance gap."
The report, called Requires Improvement, has been drawn up by a working group of educational experts chaired by Sir Robin Bosher of the Harris Federation of Academies and a former primary school head teacher.
Sir Robin said he has come across some children at four-years-old who are developmentally nearer to two when they start school and therefore require a lot of help if they are to catch up.
He added: "I see about 10 per cent in each class who are so unsociable that they hurt others, adults and other young children. But they're unsociable because they've no practice at being sociable."
The report said that six per cent of boys did not know that print is read from left to right and top to bottom by the end of their first year.
Sir Robin added: "Educational failure is too common in our current system. It affects disadvantaged children and makes reform urgent. This is about social justice. We need to do more to make sure all children are given a good education."
The report comes after the Government said that teenagers who fail to score good grades in their English and maths GCSEs must continue studying the subjects.