Guidance

Key stage 2 tests and phonics screening check: monitoring visits

How local authorities conduct monitoring visits to schools for KS1 and KS2 national curriculum assessments (commonly known as SATs).

Overview of monitoring visits

Local authorities (LAs) have a statutory responsibility to monitor the administration of key stage 2 (KS2) national curriculum tests and the phonics screening check. Monitoring visits help us to ensure that:

  • the security and confidentiality of test and check materials are maintained
  • KS2 tests and the phonics screening check are administered correctly and consistently

Monitoring visits also give headteachers a formal opportunity to demonstrate how their school is administering KS2 tests and the phonics screening check.

During KS2 monitoring visits, monitoring visitors will also be asked to review the security of key stage 1 (KS1) test materials, where applicable. They are not expected to observe the actual administration of the KS1 tests.

Academies have been asked to ensure they have employed a local authority of their choice to undertake their monitoring activities.

References to academies in this guidance include free schools as, in law, they are recognised as academies.

Independent schools will be monitored by a monitoring visits agency on our behalf.

Key stage 2 monitoring visits

At least 10% of maintained schools administering the tests in a local authority must receive a visit. This includes:

  • participating pupil referral units or special schools
  • academies that have chosen to be monitored by the LA
  • a sample of schools which we will identify

We will give LAs details of the schools we’ve identified for a monitoring visit in early April.

LAs should not arrange for more than one visit to an individual school unless we have raised specific concerns. We recommend that approximately:

  • 10% of visits take place during the week beginning 7 May
  • 80% of visits are carried out during the test period from Monday 14 May to Thursday 17 May
  • 10% of visits take place immediately after the test period, from Friday 18 May

Phonics screening check monitoring visits

At least 10% of schools administering the phonics screening check in a local authority must receive a visit. This includes:

  • participating pupil referral units or special schools
  • academies that have chosen to be monitored by the LA
  • maintained nursery schools with registered pupils who will reach the age of 6 before the end of the school year

LAs should not arrange for more than one visit to an individual school unless we have raised specific concerns. We recommend that approximately:

  • 10% of visits take place during the week commencing 4 June
  • 80% of visits are carried out during the phonics screening check period from Monday 11 June to Friday 15 June
  • 10% of visits take place immediately after the phonics screening check period, from Monday 18 June

Instructions for local authorities

Detailed guidance for KS2 and phonics screening check monitoring visits is available from the monitoring guidance and forms section. This contains the relevant monitoring visit forms and instructions for completion.

In addition to this detailed guidance, LAs should note their responsibilities outlined below.

Managing monitoring visits

We recommend that each LA gives responsibility to one person to act as their monitoring visits co-ordinator. The monitoring visits co-ordinator should:

  • arrange monitoring visits
  • select monitoring visitors
  • brief monitoring visitors on the purpose, scope and procedures involved in conducting monitoring visits
  • provide monitoring visitors with the information they will need for the visits
  • process completed monitoring visit forms

Providing information to schools

Before any monitoring visits take place, you may choose to contact all schools within your authority to explain the purpose of the visits. You may give the names of individuals involved in the visits, but you must not identify any specific schools that will be visited in advance.

You should make schools aware of this guidance so they know what to expect if they receive a monitoring visit. If schools receive a visit and wish to confirm the identity of their visitor(s) they should contact the LA directly, or phone the national curriculum assessments helpline on 0300 303 3013 if the visitor is from STA.

Independent schools can contact the national curriculum assessments helpline if they wish to confirm the identity of a visitor from our monitoring visits agency.

Preparing monitoring visitors

You are responsible for making sure your LA’s monitoring visitors:

  • understand how to carry out a monitoring visit
  • understand how to complete and return the monitoring visit forms
  • are familiar with the relevant administration guidance
  • have the necessary background information for each visit

You should brief them fully before they carry out any visits.

Monitoring guidance and forms

Detailed guidance for local authorities arranging monitoring visits, including monitoring visit forms and instructions for completion, is available:

Getting help

Standards and Testing Agency

For general enquiries about national curriculum tests.

Published 13 April 2015
Last updated 27 March 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated for the 2018 test and check cycle
  2. Phonics screening check monitoring visits guidance and form published.
  3. Updated for the 2017 test cycle.
  4. Updated for the 2016 test and assessment cycle
  5. Clarification made: we will not give LAs a list of schools to be included in monitoring visits for the phonics screening check.
  6. First published.