The Excellence in Cities programme, which provides extra funding for education projects in urban areas, had a positive effect on pupils' key GCSE scores, says the National Foundation for Educational Research.
Disadvantaged pupils entitled to free school meals also benefited from the scheme, but not by more than their peers.
Schools on the programme with high levels of overall deprivation made better average progress than similar schools outside the scheme.
A white British boy in a deprived school on the programme had a 38 per cent chance of getting five GCSEs at grades A* to C. The same boy not in the programme would have a predicted 31 per cent chance of achieving the grades.
National evaluation of Excellence in Cities 2002 to 2006 can be found at www.nfer.ac.ukresearch-areasexcellence-in-cities.