Where now after Sats' demise?

Thousands of secondary teachers have been left wondering what to do with their Year 9 classes after the scrapping of key stage 3 Sats.

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The decision by Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, is the biggest government retreat on testing since Sats were introduced in the 1990s.

It brought joy in comprehensives, but many primaries were fuming that KS2 tests escaped the axe.

Some English and maths teachers questioned what this would mean for the rest of their year.

There will be no KS3 Sats for league table purposes in 2009, but national tests will still be available to schools if they choose to use them.

Geoff Barton, head of King Edward VI school in Bury St Edmunds, said: "It came as a complete shock. My head of English asked me, `What are we going to do? We were preparing work on Romeo and Juliet.' And I said, `Let them enjoy Romeo and Juliet.'"

Another said his timetable from now until May was geared to test preparation, including work on the "set scenes" of Shakespeare's The Tempest.

"I have bought over 120 copies of The Tempest, which I really didn't need to do," he said.

Another said: "I am honestly nearly in tears of happiness. The thought of dragging my bottom set Year 9 through Sats this year was making my blood run cold."

Mr Balls said trials of new "single level tests", billed as a possible replacement for KS2 and 3 Sats, were also being abandoned for secondary pupils.

But a new layer is being added to school accountability. From 2011, schools could be marked A to F using a "report card" system borrowed from New York. This would exist alongside league tables and Ofsted reports.

Full reports, pages 10-11.

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