SIXTEEN primary schools across North Yorkshire and one in York are “underperforming”, according to a new Government report.

Nine of the North Yorkshire schools have been given notice to improve by Ofsted or have been placed on special measures by the Government – leading to a call by Education Secretary Michael Gove for more improvements to be made.

The nine are Bullamoor Junior, in Northallerton; Starbeck, in Harrogate; St George’s RC, in Scarborough; Pickering Junior; Brayton Junior; Pickhill CE; Kirkby Fleetham; Colburn and Camblesforth.

Mr Gove has now written to all North Yorkshire MPs to air his concern about the results – and called for more primary schools to be converted to academy status, meaning they will be removed from local authority control and funded directly by the Government.

“The system is failing successive cohorts of pupils in North Yorkshire,” he said. “Without urgent and decisive action they will continue to be failed.

“The best way for improvement to happen is for every underperforming school to become an academy with the support of a sponsor. This is an opportunity for the schools to help shape their own future and I hope to see these schools convert to become academies very shortly.”

But Coun Arthur Barker, executive member for schools at North Yorkshire County Council, rejected the claims, saying: “There are currently nine schools in Ofsted categories out of a total of 364 schools in the county, one of the smallest percentages in the country.

“It is a gross distortion of the facts to assert that the system in North Yorkshire is failing its pupils.

“The rate of improvement in secondary schools which are maintained by the local authority is about twice that in academies within the local authority area.”