by Claire Armstrong T&A Reporter Primary schools in Bradford are getting better but the district remains one of the country’s worst performers, it has been revealed.

The latest league tables based on maths and English Standard Attainment Tests (Sats) for children aged ten and 11 at the end of the last school year were released yesterday.

The statistics measure how many pupils at each school reached level four, the standard expected of their age group, in the subjects.

The figures also show how many pupils in each school have progressed by two or more levels since the age of seven.

Across the Bradford district, three-quarters of children achieved the standard expected of them, level four, in both subjects.

It is an improvement on last year’s figure of 71 per cent.

But Bradford was the joint sixth worst performing district in the country, tied with nine other local education authorities.

Bradford was also the worst performing local authority in West Yorkshire.

In Calderdale, 82 per cent of children passed the level four tests in both subjects.

In Leeds and Wakefield, this score was 77 per cent and in Kirklees the score was 76 per cent.

The national average was 79 per cent.

Councillor Ralph Berry, executive member for children’s services, said: “These record key stage two results reflect the hard work taking place in Bradford primary schools to bring about further improvements.

“I am particularly pleased to see the clear progress Bradford children are making in English as this is pivotal to success at school and paves the way to further improved GCSE and A-level results in the future.”

Councillor Roger L’Amie (Baildon), education spokesman for the Council’s Conservative group, acknowledged progress was being made but he said the figures showed that much more needed to be done to improve schools in Bradford.

He said: “This is really the problem, that they started from such a low base that they can improve and yet still be poor.

“One has to congratulate the heads, teachers and governors on the progress that has been made.

“However, the lowly position in both Yorkshire and national league tables clearly shows that there is still much to be done to bring educational standards in Bradford up to a level that Bradford parents and youngsters have the right to expect.”

Coun L’Amie said there should be more partnerships set up between higher and lower achieving schools, so they could share best practice.

He said: “It’s good that there has been progress but the position in the league tables clearly shows that there has got to be even greater efforts.

“I see no reason why Bradford should be at least average in West Yorkshire.”

Coun Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Liberal Democrats on the Council, agreed more needed to be done.

She said: “I'd like to say well done to all those people involved in creating the improvement, but ‘m pretty sure they will agree with me that there is a lot more to do.”

Coun Sunderland said she wanted to see a greater focus on educating children before they started school – even when they were still babies.

She said: “There is more to be done about helping children to acquire language in the first instance.

“If the quality of the language they acquire is poor, they don’t develop the skills they need in later life, and we will constantly get a fall-off in achievement in upper schools.”

She said the crucial period was the first two years of life and she called for more investment in education at places such as parent and toddler groups.

She said: “We need people coming in teaching mums how to work with their babies on how to acquire language even before they are 12 months old.

“Because if they don’t acquire a quality language – and I’m not even really bothered about which language – that will harm them for the rest of their life.”

Three schools in the Bradford district saw all its pupils pass both level four maths and English, as well as all its pupils making two or more levels of progress.

These were Long Lee and East Morton in Keighley, and St Joseph’s in Bingley.
And one Bradford school, Lapage Primary School and Nursery in Barkerend Road, was in the top 100 schools in the country for pupil progress.

The pupil progress measure, called ‘value added’, is worked out on the basis that if all pupils made the progress expected, the school would be given a score of 100.

A score lower than 100 means pupils made less progress than expected, and a score above 100 means they made more progress than expected. Lapage Primary scored 102.8, placing it in joint 62nd place in England.