Schools are being encouraged to develop a culture of high expectations to ensure the most able pupils realise their potential.
A new report by Ofsted reveals many of the most able youngsters attending non-selective secondary schools are failing to achieve their potential compared with peers who attend selective and independent schools.
This group of students does well in the most successful non-selective state secondary schools because they have a challenging curriculum and teachers ensure standards are consistently good or better for all students.
School leaders use the information they receive from primary schools to give pupils challenging work as soon as they join in year seven. This continues as they progress through the years, culminating in successful applications to the best universities, training providers and employers.
In many of the institutions visited by the inspectorate, the needs of the most able - those who achieved the highest national curriculum level at the end of key stage 2 - were not being prioritised.
Due to an insufficiently challenging curriculum, around a quarter of those who showed very strong potential in English and maths at age 11 did not go on to achieve a B grade at GCSE.
As well as creating a culture of high aspirations, teachers are being encouraged to use the information provided by primary schools about the most able students to help manage their transition to secondary school.
In addition, they should appoint staff and governors with responsibilities specifically to champion the needs of the most able students from poorer backgrounds
Training for teachers should also be provided to ensure this group of pupils is sufficiently challenged.
Sean Harford, Ofsted's national director of schools, said: "Schools exist to help all young people fulfil their potential. They must identify and nurture the talents of their students, so they can go on to achieve the best that they can. To do this, schools must ensure that the education they provide challenges and encourages children at all levels."
Posted by Alan Douglas