Pupils in Hartlepool had no access to high performing schools in 2010 and 2015, according to an education think tank.
Hartlepool was one of just two local authority areas where researchers found there was no access at all to places at high performing secondary schools in both 2010 and 2015, the other being Blackpool.
The report, from the Education Policy Institute, found: “Virtually all local authorities with consistently low densities of high performing school places are in the North, particularly the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber. In Blackpool and Hartlepool local authorities there are no high performing secondary school places.”
But Hartlepool Borough Council said they are committed “to giving all children in Hartlepool, regardless of circumstance or need, the best possible start in life” and officers support schools to reach the highest standards.
Four out of five schools are rated by Ofsted as good or outstanding, they say.
The reports authors - Jon Andrews and Natalie Perera - found that access to high performing schools in England has become more geographically unequal over the period 2010-2015.
This is in spite of government policies aimed at improving school performance outside higher performing areas such as London.
When analysing access to schools at a disaggregated, neighbourhood level, in both 2010 and 2015 they also find one fifth of local areas in England had no high performing secondary schools within reasonable travel distance.
This means pupils in these neighbourhoods are unlikely to have had any opportunity to access a place at a high performing school.
The report summary concludes: "There are large areas of the country which currently have no access to a high performing school. Of particular note is the North East, which as a region has virtually no high performing schools. Despite this, no part of the region has been selected as one of the government’s Opportunity Areas.
"If the Government believes that introducing the Opportunity Areas initiative would address the lack of access to a high performing school, then our analysis suggests that there should be one in the North East."
A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “We have an on-going commitment to giving all children in Hartlepool, regardless of circumstance or need, the best possible start in life.
“More than four-fifths (82%) of the town’s schools are currently judged to be either “good” or “outstanding” by Ofsted. Lots of these schools have held these grades for many years now.
“We are committed to supporting all schools to help them reach the highest possible standards - in line with our 2017-2020 Council Plan aim of Hartlepool being recognised as a learning town where every school is rated either “good” or “outstanding”.
“The support we give to schools on their improvement journey varies and includes providing direct help from local authority officers and bringing schools together so that they can share best practice and learn from each other. We also look beyond the town to identify successful schools so that Hartlepool schools are able to learn from their expertise too.”