The letter has been sent to schools with the highest test scores, those with pupils making most progress between the ages of seven and 11 and those that best narrowed the gap in the attainment between children from the poorest homes and their peers.
It follows the publication of the Department for Education (DfE) league tables last week which showed how every primary school did in the reading and maths tests and writing assessments sat by 11-year-olds.
To receive the letter schools had to either be ranked in the top 150 in the country for pupils’ test scores, or in the top 250 for the amount of progress their pupils have made in the three Rs between the age or seven and 11 or be in the top 250 nationally for narrowing the attainment gap between children from deprived backgrounds and the rest.
More than 30 schools in the region have been sent letters including six schools which were ranked among the nation’s top performers in two separate categories.
Totley Primary in Sheffield was ranked as one of the top-performing schools both in overall results and in the progress being made. St Bartholomew’s CE and Beeston Hill St Luke’s CE Primary in Leeds, Lapage Primary in Bradford, St Andrews CE Primary in Hull and Wakefield Greenhill Primary all received letters after being ranked in the top 250 for narrowing the gap between poor and the rest and for overall pupil progress as well.
Mr Laws said: “All these excellent primary schools have given their children the best possible start in life – and this also means that they are ready to thrive at secondary school.
“The teachers, pupils and governors deserve to be congratulated for their work and I hope other schools learn from their achievements so all children receive an excellent education.”
The performance of schools which are closing the gap for poor pupils has been praised by leading teacher John Dunford, the former head of the Association of School and College Leaders, who was appointed national pupil premium champion by the DfE earlier this year. The pupil premium is extra money given to schools for every child they have who receives free school meals .
Mr Dunford said: “It is good to see these primary schools being so successful in closing this gap and I hope that they will work with other schools to disseminate their good practice and narrow the gap across the whole of England.”