Schoolchildren were treated like VIPs when they got a private Tube train and a police escort to their school’s bicentenary celebrations in central London.

London Underground arranged an empty train for almost 300 pupils at St Mary’s C of E Primary in Finchley as they travelled to St Paul’s Cathedral on Thursday.

The special carriage passed through all other Northern Line stations on its way from Finchley Central to Bank, where the children were walked to the famous cathedral by police officers.

The extraordinary journey was arranged so the young students could join almost 1,000 past pupils, governors and staff for a service to celebrate the school’s 200th year.

Mayor of Barnet Brian Schama was among a number of dignitaries invited to join the historic occasion.

Headteacher Rob Allen said: “The children had great fun on the way down there, waving at all of the people on the platforms.

“The service had a great atmosphere and the children really rose to the occasion. It is fantastic to be part of this – what a privilege to share in something that dates back so far.”

The church service was the latest in a series of events being held this year to mark the school’s landmark anniversary.

As part of the bicentenary event, the school is aiming to raise £28,000 for a school in Bilali, South Sudan, to pay for classrooms and equipment.

A total of £21,000 has been raised so far and staff are hoping donations from Thursday’s service will edge them closer to the target.

Mr Allen said: “We have been looking into our history as part of our 200th year but we’ve also had a chance to think about the legacy we leave, and that involves helping children in poorer countries get an education.”