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Key stage 2 tests: how to apply for a timetable variation
Information about how teachers can reschedule the key stage 2 tests.
Some pupils may be able to take a test at a different time from the rest of the cohort, subject to strict criteria.
Schools can use a start time variation or a timetable variation to change the 2017 key stage 2 test timetable. Both must be authorised by the headteacher before submission to STA on NCA tools.
You can use a start time variation to vary the test time between 7am and 7pm on the day of a test, so that a pupil can take a test on the scheduled date, but at a different time from the rest of the cohort.
You can use a timetable variation to vary the test time to a different day, up to 5 school days after the day specified in the statutory timetable.
Under no circumstances may a test be taken before the day specified in the statutory timetable.
Apply to vary the test timetable
You must complete the appropriate form in the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools.
You may find it helpful to watch our video demonstrating how to notify STA of a start time variation or apply for a timetable variation.
video demonstrating how to notify STA of a start time variation or apply for a timetable variation.
Timetable variations and start time variations will only be granted if:
- pupils take the test(s) at the nominated time(s)
- STA are informed of any variation to the nominated time(s)
- the pupils are kept apart from other pupils who have taken the test(s)
- the pupils haven’t discussed the tests on the internet or social media
It is maladministration for a school to vary the test timetable without permission from STA or without having notified us. Incorrect use of timetable variations could lead to the annulment of pupils’ results.
If you are in any doubt about which type of timetable variation is most appropriate, contact the national curriculum assessments helpline on 0300 303 3013.
To vary the start time of a test on the scheduled day
You must notify us if you are going to make a start time variation for individual pupils between 7am and 7pm on the day of a test. In the interests of their welfare, pupils must not take the tests before 7am or after 7pm.
You may move the time of a test on the scheduled day if, for example:
- a pupil was ill and is now in a fit state to take the test
- a pupil arrives late
- you need to stagger the tests because you have a large cohort but not enough staff to administer the tests to all pupils at the same time
- you have a number of pupils who need readers, translators or scribes and you don’t have enough staff to support them if they were to take the test at the same time
- you need to move a test to the afternoon so you can arrange for a scribe because a pupil arrives in school on the morning of a scheduled test with a broken arm
Before the test is administered you must notify STA using an online ‘Start time variation’ form in the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools. STA will not approve or reject notifications so you do not need to wait for a response before administering the test to the pupil.
Headteachers must authorise any proposed start time variations.
Schools must not administer a start time variation unless the headteacher can confirm that:
- the content of the test(s) has remained confidential
- the pupil has not been in contact with any of the pupils who have already taken the test(s)
- the pupil has not had access to the test materials via the internet or social media
Headteachers may wish to contact the pupil’s parents to confirm that the integrity of the tests has been maintained.
If a pupil has had contact with pupils who have taken the test or had access to the test materials via the internet, the pupil must not take the test and should be marked as ‘A’ (absent) on the attendance register.
To move a test by up to 5 school days
To move the test to a different day you must submit an online ‘Application for a timetable variation’ form in the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools. You can apply to move a test up to 5 school days after the date specified in the statutory timetable. You must not administer the test until we have approved your application.
We will consider your application if a pupil:
- is absent on the day of the test due to illness
- has an important appointment that can’t be rearranged, for example, a hospital appointment, a court appearance or national / international sports participation
- is observing a religious or cultural festival
We will also consider applications if your school:
- is being used as a polling station for local or general elections, if it isn’t possible to continue with test administration in another part of the school
- has to deal with unforeseeable problems, for example, flooding
- has a short working day, for example, in a pupil referral unit
- has received its test materials late, so that it can’t administer the tests on the scheduled dates
We will not allow the test timetable to be changed for:
- unauthorised absence
- family holidays
- school activities, such as staff training events, field trips and excursions
If a pupil is absent on the day of the test, wait until the pupil has returned to school before making an application. We will not accept applications unless we are sure which day the test will be taken on.
During test week and the following timetable variation week, you need to allow up to 2 hours for your application to be processed. Please bear this in mind when submitting your application. The pupil must only take the test after the application has been approved by STA.
You will receive an email to tell you that your application has been updated. You should then login to the NCA tools website to check the status of the application.
Pupils taking the test with a timetable variation should be marked as ‘✔’ (present for the test) on the attendance register once the test has been administered. They should not be marked as ‘F’ (taking the test in a future year).
This table summarises what action you need to take if a pupil is late or absent on the day of a test.
|Circumstance||Action required||Application for a ‘timetable variation’ or notification of ‘start time variation’ required?|
|A pupil arrives late but before the rest of the pupils have completed the test.||The pupil should be given the full time to complete the test.||No|
|A pupil arrives after the test has been completed, but before the rest of the cohort has left the test room.||The pupil should be kept isolated from the rest of the cohort until the pupil’s rescheduled test has been administered.||No|
|A pupil arrives after the test has been completed and the pupils have left the test room.||The pupil should be kept isolated from the rest of the cohort until the pupil’s rescheduled test has been administered.||Yes - notification of a start time variation|
|The school is unable to administer a test to the whole cohort in one sitting.||The school may administer the test in 2 or more sittings on the scheduled day of the test. No pupil should have the opportunity to communicate with any pupil who has already taken the test.||Yes - notification of a start time variation|
|A pupil is absent on the day of a test and returns to school within 5 school days of the published test date.||The headteacher must first confirm that the pupil hasn’t had any contact with any other pupil who has already taken the test or had access to the internet.||Yes - application for a timetable variation|
|A pupil is absent on the day of a test and doesn’t return to school within 5 days of the published test date.||The pupil must be marked as ‘A’ (absent) on the attendance register.||No - application for a timetable variation not applicable|
Help and support
Standards and Testing Agency
National curriculum assessments helpline 0300 303 3013
For general enquiries about national curriculum tests.
Published: 14 April 2014
Updated: 20 April 2017
- Updated to add guidance video
- Updated for the 2016 to 2017 test cycle
- Added links to videos showing how to apply for a timetable variation and timetable change notifications
- updated for 2016 tests
- Updated for 2015
- Further information added to the Approval section; 'You will need to allow up to an hour for your application to be processed. Please bear this in mind when submitting your application.'
- First published.