Guidance

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 or day from the rest of the cohort, subject to strict criteria being met.

Schools must make a notification of a start-time variation or make an application for a timetable variation to change the 2018 key stage 2 test timetable. Both must be authorised by the headteacher before submission to the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) using the appropriate form on NCA tools.

Schools must notify STA of a start-time variation to vary the 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.

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. Unlike start-time variations, timetable variations must be approved by STA.

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

Apply to vary the test timetable

Schools must complete the appropriate form in the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools.

Whether notifying STA of a start-time variation or applying for a timetable variation, in all cases schools must ensure:

  • the pupil(s) take(s) the test(s) at the times and dates stated on the start-time variation notification or timetable variation application

  • the pupil(s) named in the notification or application is/are kept apart from all pupils who have already taken the test(s) until after they have taken it/them to ensure confidentiality is maintained

  • the pupil(s) subject to the start-time variation notification or timetable variation application haven’t had access to the content of the test(s), for example via 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 schools are in any doubt about which type of timetable variation is most appropriate, they should contact the national curriculum assessments helpline on 0300 303 3013.

Schools must inform STA if there are any changes to the test time or date stated on the notification or application forms by submitting a new form.

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

Schools must inform STA if they are going to make a start-time variation between 7am and 7pm on the scheduled day of a test by completing and submitting the ‘Notification of a start time variation’ form in the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools. The notification form is available from Monday 29 January 2018 until Thursday 17 May 2018. In the interests of their welfare, pupils must not take the tests before 7am or after 7pm.

A school 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 not enough staff to administer the tests to all pupils at the same time

  • there are a number of pupils who need readers, translators or scribes and there aren’t enough staff to support them if they were 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

Approval

Schools do not need to wait for a response before administering the test to the pupil because STA does not approve or reject notifications.

However, a school must complete and submit the ‘Start-time variation’ form before administering the test. Failure to do so could result in a maladministration investigation.

This short video demonstrates how to make a notification of a start-time variation:

start-time notification

Headteachers must authorise all start-time variations.

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.

To move a test by up to 5 school days

To move a test to a different day the school must complete and submit an ‘Application for a timetable variation’ form 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 29 January 2018 until Thursday 24 May 2018. The test(s) must not be administered until STA has approved the application.

This short video demonstrates how to make an application:

timetable variation

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 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 cannot administer the tests on the scheduled date(s)

STA 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

Approval

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

STA will not accept applications when it is not clear which day 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 updated. Schools will need to 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). Please refer to the guidance about packing scripts.

This table summarises what action needs to be taken if a pupil is to take a test earlier in the day to the rest of the cohort or is late or absent on the day of a test.

Circumstance Action required Notification of a ‘start-time variation’ or application for a ‘timetable variation’ required?
A pupil is to take the test early on the scheduled day before the rest of the cohort. The school can open the test pack on the scheduled day of the test and remove one test paper for the pupil taking the test early (returning the pack immediately to a locked cupboard). Yes - notification of a start-time variation.
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.
A pupil arrives after the test has been completed, on the scheduled day of the test, 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, on the scheduled day of the test, 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 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. 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 has not had any contact with any other pupil who has already taken the test and/or had access to the content of the tests, for example on the internet or social media. Yes - application for a timetable variation.
A pupil is absent on the day of a test and does not return to school within 5 days of the published test date. The pupil must be marked as absent (A) on the attendance register. No - application for a timetable variation not applicable.

Help and support

Standards and Testing Agency

For general enquiries about national curriculum tests.

Published 14 April 2014
Last updated 14 February 2018 + show all updates
  1. 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.
  2. Updated for the 2018 test cycle
  3. Updated to add guidance video
  4. Updated for the 2016 to 2017 test cycle
  5. Added links to videos showing how to apply for a timetable variation and timetable change notifications
  6. updated for 2016 tests
  7. Updated for 2015
  8. 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.'
  9. First published.