An East London school has hired an Africa-American etiquette coach to help pupils present themselves during interviews for future scholarships.

Students at The Cumberland School, in Plaistow, Newham, were taught modules on posture and greetings by Coach Laura Akano.

Last year the Prestigious Colleges Programme helped seven children win scholarships for top fee paying sixth forms, including Eton College.  Head teacher Omar Deira said: ‘This isn’t about changing who they are or the way they act.

It’s about making sure they are as confident as they can be during interviews, and if successful, at their new schools. ‘We want to level the playing field and give our students every chance to compete with those who have come from wealthier backgrounds.’ Ms Akano, who appeared on BBC 2 documentary Back in Time for School, said: ‘This is not about putting on airs and graces and asking them to be something they are not. It is about giving them the confidence to excel during interviews. ‘These are skills that people from middle and upper-class backgrounds have by birth right. The students at Cumberland do not have that.’