Section 5: Participation in the tests
How different types of schools participate in the tests, which pupils should take them and details of access arrangements
5 Participation in the tests
Participation in the tests depends on the type of school. The types of schools required to participate in the tests is detailed in section 13.
5.1 Participating pupils
The tests are designed to be used with all pupils who are working at the standard of the national curriculum. There will be some pupils who will be working below the ‘expected standard’ of the test, who will not achieve a scaled score of 100, but who should still take the tests. Teachers should use their knowledge of each pupil to decide whether to administer the tests to them. They may use the sample materials to inform these decisions.
Most pupils taking the KS2 tests will be in year 6 and will reach the age of 11 by the end of the school year. This includes pupils with special educational needs (SEN) who will start some aspects of the key stage 3 programme of study without having completed the entire KS2 programme of study.
All pupils who have reached the end of KS2 are included in the calculation of a school’s performance measures, regardless of whether they have been entered for national curriculum tests or disapplied from the curriculum.
All pupils enrolled at maintained schools and maintained special schools who will have completed the KS2 programme of study in the 2015 to 2016 school year and all eligible pupils enrolled at academies must be registered for the national curriculum tests. This includes pupils that are working below the standard of the tests and ultimately don’t take them and pupils that are working at the standard but can’t access the tests.
Pupils in their final year of KS2 who attend a pupil referral unit (PRU) or hospital school but are still on the register of a maintained school or academy must also participate in the tests. The headteacher at the school where the pupil is registered is responsible for ensuring that the tests are administered according to the published guidance and that the completed test scripts are returned to their home school immediately after the tests.
Some parents may ask a headteacher not to enter their child for the tests. Parents may also ask a headteacher to enter their child for a test when the school has decided this is not appropriate. In all instances the headteacher’s decision regarding participation is final. Headteachers should explain the school’s decision to parents.
Pupils younger or older than 11 at the end of KS2
Pupils must only be entered for the tests before the school year in which they are 11 if they have completed the KS2 programme of study and the headteacher considers they are working at the standard of the tests.
Pupils older than 11 who have not taken the tests must be entered to take them at the end of the year in which they complete the KS2 programme of study, if the headteacher considers the child to be working at the standard of the tests.
The performance tables report pupil’s results in the year in which they complete the KS2 programme of study. From 2016, where a pupil takes one test early the results will not be reported in the tables until the year in which the remaining tests are taken.
Pupils working below the standard of the tests
Pupils who are assessed as working below the standard of the national curriculum and who are not expected to reach this standard by May 2016 must be registered as below the standard during the pupil registration process. They should be marked as ‘B’ on the test attendance register and should not sit the test.
Pupils cannot be registered as below the standard of the test for individual components of a test. For example, a pupil cannot take Paper 1 of the English grammar, punctuation and spelling test and be marked as ‘B’ on the attendance register for Paper 2. In this scenario STA would correct the pupil’s status to ‘A’ (Absent) and the child would be recorded as absent overall.
If the 2016 tests are administered to pupils working below the standard of the tests, their completed test scripts must be sent for marking. These pupils will be awarded test outcomes based on their achievements in those tests. Their test results must be included when reporting results to the department and in the annual report to parents.
If a school decides not to enter a pupil for the tests or if a teacher does not have evidence that a pupil consistently meets all the statements in the lowest standards in the interim teacher assessment frameworks, the interim pre-key stage standard(s) should be used to provide a statutory assessment outcome for the pupil and any reasonable adjustments which reflect usual classroom practice may remain for teacher assessment.
It is important to note that because the standard of the easiest questions remains the same as on previous tests, we are not expecting any significant increase in the number of pupils not sitting the tests. If pupils are able to answer the easiest questions, they should be entered for the test.
Pupils working at the standard of the tests but who are unable to access them
Schools are responsible for making arrangements to determine whether a pupil is working at the standard of the tests but is unable to access them. The headteacher can make final decisions about participation in the tests.
Some examples of pupils who may fit this category are included below.
- Pupils with a physical or sensory disability.
- Pupils who have spent time in hospital towards the end of the key stage.
- Pupils who have been educated at home or excluded from school and need time to adjust to regular school life.
- Pupils who are experiencing or have recently experienced severe emotional problems.
Specific arrangements can be put in place to enable pupils to access the tests.
Pupils who are working at the standard of the tests but who are unable to access them must be registered in the ‘Pupil registration’ section of NCA tools and marked as ‘T’ on the test attendance register.
If the 2016 tests are administered to pupils who are working at the standard of the tests but are unable to access them (for example if a pupil starts a test and is unable to complete it), their test scripts must be sent for marking. Pupils will be awarded test outcomes based on their achievements in those tests.
Pupils whose performance on the national curriculum cannot be established
Schools may not have enough time to determine a pupil’s abilities before the tests, for example because a pupil has recently arrived from a different education system. Where this is the case the pupil must be registered as part of pupil registration but should not sit the test. They must be marked as ‘T’ on the test attendance register.
If the 2016 tests are administered to pupils whose abilities have not been established, their completed test scripts must be sent for external marking. Pupils will be awarded test outcomes based on their achievements in those tests.
5.2 Access arrangements
The access arrangements guidance explains how readers, scribes and other arrangements can be used in each test, and what schools need to do to use them.
Access arrangements are adjustments that schools must consider before the tests. They should be based primarily on normal classroom practice for pupils with particular needs. Access arrangements must never provide an unfair advantage. The support given must not change the test questions and the answers must be the pupil’s own.
Access arrangements may be appropriate for pupils:
- with a SEN or an Education Health and Care Plan as described in SEN Code of Practice or a local equivalent
- for whom provision is being made in school using the SEN Support system and whose learning difficulty or disability significantly affects their ability to access the tests
- who require alternative access arrangements because of a disability (which may or may not give rise to a special educational need)
- who are unable to sit and work for a long period because of a disability or because of social, emotional or mental health difficulties
- with EAL and who have limited fluency in English
Schools must make sure they have documentation to show that a pupil is eligible for access arrangements. This must include evidence that resources are routinely committed to providing this support in the classroom. Schools must be able to show the documentation if they have a monitoring visit.
If schools use access arrangements for a pupil inappropriately, the pupil’s results may be annulled.
5.3 Pupils with English as an additional language
Pupils with English as an additional language (EAL) must be registered for the KS2 tests even if there is a valid reason why they will not take them.
If pupils cannot communicate in English then they will be working below the standard of the English tests and should not take them.
To establish a pupil’s abilities in mathematics, teachers and language-support staff should work together to translate national curriculum work into the pupil’s preferred language. Care should be taken to ensure that any translation does not provide additional support or understanding of mathematical terms.
If a pupil is working at the standard of the mathematics tests, the school should administer the tests using the access arrangements summarised in paragraph 5.2. Pupils working below the standard of the mathematics tests should not take them.
Pupils with a profound hearing impairment who are unable to access the tests
Pupils with profound hearing impairment may not be able to participate in the spelling aspect of the English grammar, punctuation and spelling test even with the full range of access arrangements. The school should apply for a compensatory mark for the test. In order for pupils to be awarded a compensatory mark they must be registered for the English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests and marked as ‘A’ on the attendance register for the Paper 2: spelling
5.4 Decisions on participation in the tests
Headteachers don’t need permission when making decisions about participation in the tests.
As part of decision-making headteachers should:
- discuss the pupil’s circumstances and needs with their parents and teachers
- if appropriate, consult with educational psychologists, medical officers or other specialist staff
If a headteacher decides a pupil shouldn’t take 1 or more of the tests they should explain this decision to the parents. They should also write a report which:
- explains why the pupil can’t take some or all of the tests
- refers to any action the school has already taken or special support the pupil has been offered
- identifies any procedures that they’ve used to analyse and monitor the pupil’s needs and indicate where the information is recorded
- identifies whether these circumstances are likely to be long term or short term
A copy of the report must be sent to the:
- pupil’s parents
- chair of the governing body
Details of the parents’ right to appeal the decision should be included with the report. If a headteacher believes that a parent may have difficulty in understanding the report, they must offer appropriate assistance.
A copy of the report should be placed on the pupil’s educational record.
5.5 Registering pupils
All pupils at participating schools must be registered for the tests, regardless of whether they will actually sit them.
Pupils must be registered on the ‘Pupil registration’ section of the NCA tools website. This opens on Monday 22 February. Schools should register their pupils for the tests by Friday 18 March.
Maintained schools must also register pupils for tests if they arrive at the school after Friday 18 March.
Independent schools that have not completed pupil registration by Friday 18 March will not be allowed to participate in the 2016 tests.