Guidance

Key stage 2 tests: how to apply for a timetable variation

Information about how headteachers can reschedule the key stage 2 tests.

Introduction

Some pupils may be able to take a test at a different time or day from the rest of the cohort, subject to strict criteria being met.

Schools can vary a test time between 7am and 7pm on the day of a test, so that an individual pupil or part of the cohort can take a test on the scheduled date, but at a different time from the rest of the cohort. In these circumstances, schools no longer need to submit a notification to the Standards and Testing Agency (STA).

A timetable variation can be used to move the test to a different day, up to 5 school days after the day specified in the statutory timetable for an individual pupil, a partial cohort or a whole cohort. In these circumstances, schools must have an application approved by STA before they can administer the test.

Under no circumstances should a test be administered before the day specified in the statutory timetable. Doing so will result in a maladministration investigation.

Changes for the 2018/19 academic year

Schools can choose what time they administer the tests to their pupils on the days specified in the statutory timetable. Previously, schools were required to submit a notification of a start-time variation to STA if they intended to administer the tests to pupils in more than one sitting. From the 2018/19 academic year onwards, no notification is necessary.

To vary the start time of a test on the scheduled day

In the interests of their welfare, pupils must not take the tests before 7am or after 7pm.

Schools may move the time of a test on the scheduled day if, for example:

  • a pupil arrives late

  • the school has a large cohort and there are not enough staff to administer the tests to all pupils at the same time

  • there are pupils who need readers, translators or scribes and there are not enough staff to support them to take the test at the same time

  • a pupil was unwell at the time the test was taken and is now in a fit state to take the test

  • arrangements need to be made for a scribe because a pupil arrives in school with an injury

Schools do not need to submit a notification to STA to change the start time of a test for a pupil or part of the cohort on the scheduled test day. Headteachers must authorise all start-time variations and should be prepared to explain their arrangements if they receive a monitoring visit.

Schools must not vary the start time of a test unless the headteacher can confirm that:

  • the content of the test(s) has remained confidential

  • the pupil has not been in contact with any pupils who have already taken the test(s)

  • the pupil has not had access to the test materials, for example, via the internet or social media

  • the pupil is in a fit physical and mental state to take the test(s)

Headteachers may wish to contact the pupil’s parents to confirm that the confidentiality of the test(s) has been maintained.

If a pupil has had contact with pupils who have taken the test or had access to the test content, the pupil must not take the test. Instead, they should be marked as absent (A) on the test attendance register.

Failure to follow the guidance above could result in a maladministration investigation.

To move a test by up to 5 school days

To move a test to a different day, schools must submit an ‘Application for a timetable variation’ in the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools. A school can apply to move a test up to 5 school days after the date specified in the statutory timetable. The application form is available from Monday 28 January 2019 until Thursday 23 May 2019.

The test(s) must not be administered until STA has approved the application.

STA will consider an application if a pupil:

  • was absent on the scheduled day of the test due to illness

  • has an important appointment that cannot be rearranged, for example, a hospital appointment, a court appearance or national/international sports participation

  • is observing a religious or cultural festival

STA will also consider applications if the school:

  • is being used as a polling station for local or general elections, if it is not 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

STA will not allow the test timetable to be changed for:

  • unauthorised absence

  • family holidays

  • school activities, for example, staff training events, field trips and excursions

Approval

If a pupil is absent on the day of a test, the school should wait until the pupil has returned to school before making an application.

The headteacher must confirm:

  • the content of the test(s) has remained confidential

  • the pupil has not been in contact with any pupils who have already taken the test(s)

  • the pupil has not had access to the test materials, for example via the internet or social media

  • the pupil is in a fit physical and mental state to take the test(s)

STA will not approve applications if it is not clear which day(s) the test(s) will be taken.

During test week, and the following timetable variation week, schools need to allow up to 1 hour for an application to be processed by STA. This should be taken into account when making an application. The pupil cannot take the test(s) until the application has been approved by STA.

An email will be sent to the school when an application has been reviewed. Schools should log in to NCA tools to check the status of the application.

Pupils taking the test with a timetable variation should be marked as present (✔) on the test attendance register once the test has been administered. They should not be marked as absent (A) or taking the test in a future year (F). For further guidance about completing test attendance registers, please refer to the guidance in the attendance register and test script dispatch instructions.

Timetable variation examples

This table shows what action is required for a pupil to take a test at a different time or day from the rest of the cohort.

Circumstance Action required Application for a timetable variation required?
A pupil has an important appointment that cannot be rearranged and the school knows about this before test week. The headteacher must first confirm that the pupil will not have any contact with any other pupil(s) who will have taken the test and/or had access to the test content, for example, on the internet or social media. Yes, an application for a timetable variation must be made.
The school is unable to administer a test to the whole cohort in one sitting or a pupil takes the test early before the rest of the cohort on the scheduled day. 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. The school should open the test pack on the scheduled day and remove test paper(s) for the pupil(s) taking the test in the first sitting. The remainder of the test pack should be returned immediately to a locked cupboard. No, schools can vary the start time of a test on the scheduled day.
A pupil arrives late, on the scheduled day of the test, but before the rest of the pupils have completed the test. The pupil should be given the full time to complete the test. No, the pupil can enter the test room and should be given the full time to complete the test.
A pupil arrives late, on the scheduled day of the test, after the test has been completed. The pupil should be kept isolated from the rest of the cohort until the pupil’s rescheduled test has been administered. No, schools can vary the start time of a test on the scheduled day.
A pupil is absent on the day of a test and returns to school within 5 school days of the scheduled test day. The headteacher must first confirm that the pupil has not had any contact with any other pupil(s) who have already taken the test and/or had access to the test content, for example, on the internet or social media. Yes, an application for a timetable variation must be made.
A pupil is absent on the day of a test and does not return to school within 5 days of the scheduled test day. The pupil must be marked as absent (A) on the attendance register. No, an application for a timetable variation is not applicable.

Failure to follow the above guidance could result in a maladministration investigation.

Help and support

Standards and Testing Agency

For general enquiries about national curriculum tests.

Published 14 April 2014
Last updated 10 December 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated guidance for the 2019 test cycle
  2. Videos demonstrating how to make an application for a timetable variation and how to make a notification of a start-time variation have been added.
  3. Updated for the 2018 test cycle
  4. Updated to add guidance video
  5. Updated for the 2016 to 2017 test cycle
  6. Added links to videos showing how to apply for a timetable variation and timetable change notifications
  7. updated for 2016 tests
  8. Updated for 2015
  9. 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.'
  10. First published.