Three-quarters of Sheffield’s 11-year-olds are mastering the basics in the three Rs, according to latest school tables.
In last summer’s tests, 76 per cent of youngsters made the grade in reading, writing and maths – an improvement of four percentage points on 2013.
The rise pushed the city up the national table to joint 117th from 123rd – level with Leeds, Nottingham, Liverpool and Barnsley.
Schools in Rotherham performed slightly better than Sheffield’s, with an overall pass rate of 77 per cent, while Doncaster was closer to the bottom of the rankings on 74.
Four of the top six schools in the city this year were Catholic primaries – high-achieving St Wilfrid’s in Millhouses was joined by St John Fisher Academy in Hackenthorpe, St Thomas More at Grenoside and St Thomas of Canterbury at Meadowhead.
Other schools in the top 10 were Dore, Meersbrook Bank, Ecclesall Juniors, Totley, Oughtibridge and Totley.
At the other end of the spectrum, 18 Sheffield primaries fell foul of a new tougher Government ‘floor target’ – a minimum standard that demands that at least 65 per cent of pupils are passing at the expected grade in the three main subjects.
That is one less than last year when the target was just 60 per cent, a sign many schools in challenging areas are still making progress.
These schools will now come under close scrutiny and could be forced to become academies, if they have not already gone down that route, or may have to change sponsors if they have.
A spokesman for Sheffield Council, the local education authority, said: “Standards in our primary schools continue to rise and more children are being well taught and achieving, often surpassing national expectations.”
It was a similar picture nationally, with the same number of schools failing to make the grade as last year – but the proportion reaching the new target showed many were ‘raising their game’, ministers said.
David Laws, schools minister, said: “It is encouraging to see the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers continue to narrow and parents, teachers and pupils deserve to be congratulated for their efforts.”