Staff at a Hartlepool school were invited into the corridors of power as it was recognised for its work with disadvantaged pupils.
One of the ways in which Dyke House Secondary School has attempted to tackle the issue is through its Aspiration Programme launched in September 2015.
Informed by current research, the programme includes a number of initiatives to guide pupils onto appropriate progression pathways.
Targeting pupils from Year 4 through to Sixth Form, the school provides information and opportunities to develop the skills necessary to allow pupils to succeed and make “aspirational” choices with regard to their future.
Head of college Andrew Murphy and Sally Holt, who was the Aspirations Programme coordinator last year, enjoyed a reception at No. 10 Downing Street in London, along with the other best performing comprehensive and grammar schools in the country.
Education secretary Justine Greening, Jo Johnson, Les Ebdon and Nick Gibb, as well as many leaders from universities and schools across the UK, attended the ‘For Schools that Work for Everyone’ reception.
Prime Minister Theresa May praised their efforts and spoke of her plans for the White Paper that will be released in the coming weeks.
Mr Murphy said: “It was a hugely exciting evening and a real privilege to be part of a group of people who have so much to offer education.
“To be invited to Downing Street was a unique experience and hearing the Prime Minister speak at first hand about her vision for the future of education was fantastic.”
Miss Holt, who is now the post-graduate researcher at University College London, said: “We got to represent the North East and it was a great chance to talk about the outreach work and Aspirations Programme at Dyke House.
“We have had a lot of interest in our programmes and the support we are giving our disadvantaged pupils.
“There should be no barriers to our children succeeding in life.”
Bosses say Dyke House students have already benefited hugely from the programme and they have visited top universities such as Cambridge, Oxford, Durham, York and Newcastle.
The school is sponsored by the Northern Education Trust, a multi-academy trust which operates 20 academies throughout the north of England.