Three schools that have pioneered innovative uses of the Pupil Premium have been honoured at an awards ceremony.
Millfield Science and Performing Arts College in Thornton joined Park Junior Primary in Shirebrook and Ashmount School in Loughborough at an awards ceremony in London. They were handed £10,000 each to recognise their use of the pupil premium money given for students on free school meals.
The Pupil Premium Awards came on the day the government announced it was consulting on extending the premium to include three- and four-year-olds, who will receive an additional £300.
Park Junior was recognised as it used the extra money, worth an extra £1,300 per pupil in primary schools, to eliminate the achievement gap between its wealthier and poorer pupils. Secondary schools receive £935 per eligible pupil.
Steve Hewitt-Richards, executive head of Park Junior, said: "We use traditional methods with a contemporary twist at our school, and believe teachers should teach and pupils should learn.
"We used the premium money to develop learning behaviours in our children that makes them better learners, the same as you would see at Eton or Harrow."
Millfield College used the premium to bring in additional staff, which has helped close the attainment gap by 16 percentage points since 2011.
Headteacher Sean Bullen said his school had invested the premium in smaller classes for English and maths. "We also used it to bring in pupil premium coordinators in those subjects, who would offer one-to-one tuition to Year 7, 8 and 9 students," he added.
And Ashmount was handed the prize for a range of interventions, including weekly sessions with subject specialists.
"We were clear in what impacts we wanted to have by using the premium," said head Dave Thomas. "For the more able students, we can stretch them by focusing efforts on English and maths, while with students with more complex needs, we could use the money on more imaginative techniques, such as musical therapy."
Speaking at the second annual Pupil Premium Awards Mr Clegg said the efforts of each of the schools showed that the pupil premium was working.
"This is a genuinely uplifting event as you are all involved in the most important task in British society today," Mr Clegg said.
"You play a vital role in realising the potential of every child regardless of the circumstances of their birth, which so often has been a failure of successive governments. The pupil premium, in essence, is an attempt to address that failure."