An American expert on child development says many secondary schools have to change the way they teach boys, if the teenagers are to realise their full potential.
Rick Hawley is the co-author of a global study on the most effective ways of teaching boys.
He told an international educational conference in Hastings that one finding was the need for teachers to build positive relationships with male students.
The study also found that teaching practices which worked best included getting boys on their feet in the classroom, and having them work cooperatively.
Mr Hawley says responses from pupils and teachers at 18 schools in five countries that took part in the study, show male pupils excel when the style of teaching fits the needs of the students.
The study was commissioned by the International Boys Schools Coalition, which represents 200 schools.