White British pupils are falling behind students from other ethnic backgrounds by the time they reach their GCSEs because of a lack of support from their parents, according to a report.
The research, by the CentreForum think tank, suggests white British children are among the top three highest achievers at the age of five.
But by the age of 16, the group's performance slips to 13th in a table behind those of Chinese, Indian, Asian and black African heritage.
Researchers said parents' aspirations played a smaller role than their support for the pupil, with those from ethnic backgrounds being more supportive of their children than white parents.
Jo Hutchinson, the think tank's associate director for education, told the i: "What is bigger than aspiration is parental engagement. We are talking about things such as parents attending parents' evenings at school, talking to their children about subject options, supervising homework, ensuring that the family eats together and has regular bedtimes.
"Those sorts of things appear to be more associated with this effect than pure aspirations. It's not just aspirations but behaviours that support the aspirations.
"Most parents actually want their children to continue in education and be successful in education. What sometimes differs is the extent to which they have the knowledge and the tools and resources to help them to make that aspiration real."
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "We welcome this report which shows the stark choice we face in education today - either we prepare today's young people to compete with the best in the world, or we don't.
"That's why we've taken the decision to set the new GCSE 'good pass' in line with the average performance in high-performing countries such as Finland, Canada, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
"Every time we have raised the bar for schools and colleges they have risen to meet the challenge, and we are confident that this is no exception.
"Over time we expect to see more pupils reach this new higher standard and the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers continuing to narrow."