Getting involved in extracurricular activities is an effective way for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to improve their confidence, says an education expert.
According to Lesley Gannon, assistant secretary at the National Association of Head Teachers, "one of the ways that the more advantaged young people in our society gain confidence is by doing more out of school than their less advantaged counterparts".
Ms Gannon suggests pupils get involved in projects including the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme or foreign exchange programmes.
The most successful initiatives "are those schemes that bring the young people into direct contact with people from outside of their usual school and home communities and bring them face to face with 'real' undergraduates and/or professionals", she added.
Recently released research from education charity the Sutton Trust found thousands of state school pupils are not applying to the most prestigious degree courses despite having the A-levels required to secure a place.