A "drinking culture" exists in some schools dominated by white and middle class pupils, research suggests.
White or non-religious teenagers are more likely to drink alcohol, and frequently, a report published on the Department for Education website says.
And youngsters in schools with fewer pupils on free school meals are more likely to have tried alcohol.
Overall, the study suggests 55% of young people have tried alcohol by age 14, with girls more likely to do so.
By the age of 17, 85% of teenagers have drunk alcohol, it reports.
The report, which looked at how alcohol consumption is linked to behaviour, raises concerns about drinking in schools.
It says: "We found that young people who attended schools with a larger proportion of white pupils were more likely to have tried alcohol regardless of their own ethnic group."
It adds that those who attended schools with fewer pupils on free school meals were also more likely to drink alcohol, regardless of their own status.
"These results may indicate the presence of aspects of a "drinking culture" in some schools", the report says.