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Tests still in demand despite their KS3 demise

More than two-thirds of English secondary schools have ordered key stage 3 papers this year, despite the Government's decision to axe the Sats as a statutory exam from 2009.

A total of 2,207 of 3,163 schools (or 70 per cent) have ordered the assessments for 2009, with a week still to go until the deadline for requesting the tests.

Of these, only 321 (10 per cent) requested the papers before the Government announced on October 15 that it was scrapping KS3 tests, suggesting that 60 per cent of schools have consciously decided to continue with the tests even though they are now voluntary.

Observers have greeted the figures with surprise, although the findings follow warnings from the NASUWT teachers' union in last week's TES that many schools would retain the Year 9 exams.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "People may be using the tests in the short term this year to help them with reporting to parents because they haven't had time to develop their own assessment systems."

David Laws, Liberal Democrat schools spokesman, said that "because the Government announced this so late, many schools have been set on doing the KS3 tests this year.

"I could understand, if I were a teacher or a head and had some form of testing linked to a curriculum that I had already planned, that it would be very difficult to change that at short notice."

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