A new study, conducted by The Sutton Trust, has warned that schools in England are guilty of neglecting their most intelligent children.
The report observed that in terms of attainment in maths, these children are lagging behind their peers from overseas.
In fact, GSCE students in England are half as likely as their counterparts in developed countries to reach higher levels in maths.
Further to this, the study found that instead of going to state schools, the brightest pupils typically end up in private institutions or grammar schools.
Sir Peter Lampl, the Sutton Trust chairman, said: "This is a deeply troubling picture for any us who care about our brightest pupils from non-privileged backgrounds."
In order to bring out the best in bright students, exam questions should be more strenuous than they are at present, according to the report.
"Excellence in maths is crucial in so many areas such as science, engineering, IT, economics and finance," Sir Peter added. "These figures show that few bright non-privileged students reach their academic potential - which is unfair and a tragedy for them and the country as a whole."
This view has been echoed by Michael Gove, the education secretary, who questioned the policies of the previous Labour government, accusing the Blair and Brown administrations of failing bright pupils.
He added that these policies drove bright people from impoverished backgrounds into subjects that are not well-regarded by top employers.
However, shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg has hit back in the argument, saying that results for all pupils improved under Labour.
"While there are always improvements that could be made, gifted and talented pupils were stretched through a National Academy, targeted scholarships and a new A* grade at A-level," he commented.
The government recently suggested the idea of abolishing GCSE tests entirely in a bid to improve overall standards.
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