MACHO behaviour is difficult to spot in English lessons at St Augustine's Roman Catholic high school in St Helen's, Merseyside.
Instead, boys are keen to take part in discussions about characters'
emotions and put their hands up to read aloud to the rest of the class.
"There is a real lads' culture in St Helen's," said Linda Mousdale, an English teacher and deputy head. "But here we expect them to behave like gentlemen."
The Office for Standards in Education studied St Augustine's work because its gender gap at GCSE is almost imperceptible, even though boys lag behind girls in reading skills when they arrive.
The school says the most important features of its work are its high expectations of boys, a consistent behaviour policy, and a stress on literacy in all subjects.
Teachers plan seating arrangements so boys and girls work together and pupils are offered a "balanced literary diet" which includes books by travel writer Bill Bryson among others.