David Laws, the schools minister, has set new targets for primary schools in an attempt to improve reading, writing and maths.
Primary schools will be deemed to be under-performing from 2014 if under 65% of their pupils reach a satisfactory standard in reading, writing and maths and their school fails to achieve above-average progress in these subjects.
Under-performing schools could then be taken over by an academy sponsor.
Last year, 476 primaries were under-performing against 1,310 in 2011. Fewer than 900 primaries could be deemed to be under-performing under the new stricter target.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, told the Guardian, “England's primary schools have been improving steadily for many years, nearly doubling the rate of children leaving with the expected standards.
“There is no lack of ambition. The expected reward for that performance is always a shifting of the goal posts, so it will be no surprise to heads that the floor standard is shifting again next year. Raising the bar while reducing resources will, however, do little for standards.”