Black boys may have to be taught in separate classes from their white peers to help them do better at school, according to the race relations watchdog.

Trevor Phillips, chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, said it was necessary to prepare for such a radical option because so many black boys are failing to get good GCSEs.

He also called for tougher action against black fathers, questioning whether they should be denied access to their sons if they refuse to attend parents' evenings.

Figures published last month showed black teenagers continued to lag far behind their white classmates at GCSE, although there were signs the gap was narrowing.

Last year just 35.7 per cent of black Caribbean pupils in England scored at least five C-grades at GCSE, compared with a national average of 51.9 per cent.

Mr Phillips said many black boys were suffering from a culture where it was not cool to be clever, and they lacked self-esteem and good role models.

"If the only way to break through the wall of attitude that surrounds black boys is to teach them separately, then we should be ready for that," he said.