EDUCATION chiefs have admitted they are worried about falling standards among the city's older primary school pupils, following years of improvements.

Now they have set a four point plan which focuses on upgrading the quality of leadership in schools to try to drive standards, which lag behind the national average, back up.

According to Bradford Council figures, children aged between seven and 11, or Key Stage Two had shown a "gentle decline" in reading performance, putting the city in 149th position from 152 local authorities in the league table.

For writing the figure was better at 131st and for maths the city had edged above the national average performance in 2010 but had "seen a widening of the gap in recent years" according to education officer Phil Weston.

Children in Bradford were making better progress during the years they spent in school, he said, but added: "If we are going to close these attainment gaps we need better progress than the national rate. This is a message we are sharing with schools."

In 2013 statistics showed 82 per cent of primary pupils attended a school ranked by Ofsted as 'good' or above, but Mr Weston conceded that figure had "fallen back a little" more recently, though the number of secondary school pupils attending a school ranked as 'good' or better had grown from 28 per cent in 2012 to 47 per cent last year. However, the current figure was 46 per cent.

Despite that, Mr Weston said there was no direct link between the number of schools highly rated by Ofsted and pupil performance.

Although the Ofsted figures were down this year, there was an expectation that pupil performance will have increased during the current academic year, he said.

The figures were discussed last night at a meeting of Bradford Council's children's services scrutiny committee and he told councillors: "Schools are telling me there will be quite significant improvements."

Committee chairman, Councillor Malcolm Sykes said: "The worry is that if we were not doing very good in 2013 with 82 per cent of schools 'good', if we are falling away, it doesn't look good for results."

The Council has a now devised a four point plan to try to drive up educational standards across the city, with improvements in school leadership seen as the most important change to make.

Mr Weston said that meant leadership throughout schools, rather than just a head teacher level.