Key stage 2 tests: how to apply for special consideration

Information for schools about special consideration, which may be applied if a pupil’s performance in a key stage 2 test has been affected by extremely distressing circumstances.

This guidance will be updated for the 2018 test cycle in March 2018.

Overview of special consideration

We may approve an application for special consideration if a pupil’s performance in a key stage 2 test has been affected by extremely distressing circumstances in test week or the weeks immediately before test week. It may also apply when an incident that occurred in the months before the tests is still having an impact on the pupil demonstrating their full potential.

Under these circumstances, schools can apply for special consideration in the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools, from Thursday 11 May. The pupil must have taken the test(s) before the school makes an application for special consideration. The deadline for applications is Friday 19 May.

We won’t approve special consideration applications if a pupil was ill or distressed while taking the test(s) and wasn’t fit to take them. In these circumstances, schools should have considered using a timetable variation to administer the test at a more appropriate time.

Eligible circumstances for special consideration

Special consideration may be granted under the following circumstances if they occurred at the time of the tests:

  • on-going proceedings, such as the pupil having to appear in court (unless the pupil themselves committed a crime)
  • the pupil experiences a serious and disruptive domestic crisis
  • the pupil is affected by a severe disease, asthmatic attack or flare-up of severe congenital conditions, such as epilepsy or diabetes
  • the pupil experiences a severe physical assault or trauma

Or in the 6 months before the tests:

  • the pupil or a close family member has been diagnosed with a terminal illness
  • the pupil or a close family member has suffered a significant incapacitating illness
  • the pupil has undergone major surgery
  • the pupil has been involved in a severe accident and suffers from physical or emotional harm, as a result
  • the pupil has suffered a severe or permanent bodily injury

We may also grant special consideration if a pupil suffers the death of a close family member or friend in the 12 months before the tests.

You must specify any other major unpredicted disruption in your application. You must provide the dates of when the incident took place, or circumstances began, as part of your application.

Where an incident has affected a whole cohort of pupils, only those pupils most closely involved will usually be eligible.

Circumstances not eligible for special consideration

Special consideration will not be granted when the pupil:

  • is ill on the day and not in a fit state to take the test. In these circumstances schools should consider making an application for a timetable variation to administer the test up to 5 school days later
  • has a sudden, temporary illness such as vomiting. In these circumstances, the school should consider allowing the pupil a rest break or make a notification of a start time variation to administer the test later in the same day (as long as the test was not started)
  • has had a minor injury, the effects of which could be dealt with by alternative arrangements, such as allowing rests breaks and/or providing a scribe
  • has a long-term illness, which prevented the pupil covering the whole of the curriculum or affected their preparation for the tests
  • has previously been educated at home or excluded from school and needs time to adjust to the national curriculum
  • has recently arrived from a different education system and needs time to adjust to the national curriculum
  • has a sensory or physical disability or condition which prevents them from accessing the tests, even with access arrangements or modified test materials
  • is working below the standard of the tests
  • where long-term circumstances may have affected the pupil from reaching the standard of the tests
  • has experienced the death of a close family member, or close friend, more than 12 months before the tests, unless there are ongoing proceedings such as an inquest or court case at the time of the tests
  • is affected by the consequences of committing a crime

Schools should prepare for the tests carefully using the KS2 test administration guidance. Special consideration will not be granted due to circumstances that have affected the preparation and administration of a test, for example:

  • a disturbance during the test, such as a fire alarm or disruptive behaviour
  • the incorrect administration of the test, such as incorrect allocation of time, or errors made by the school when modifying or photocopying test scripts
  • a failure to implement previously agreed access arrangements
  • a failure to apply for access arrangements on time
  • late receipt of test materials or incorrectly collated test papers
  • difficulties during the school year that might have affected preparations for the tests, such as disturbances caused by building work or shortages of staff


Schools must submit applications for special consideration in the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools from Thursday 11 May until Friday 19 May. If you save an application, but don’t submit, it will be listed as ‘incomplete’ and we will not consider it.

You should only make an application for a pupil who has taken all test papers for the subject. On the application form, you must confirm that the pupil has taken the test. You should only include details that are associated with the criteria under which you are applying.

You must provide details of when any incident took place or circumstances began, including specific dates. Where the pupil is affected by circumstances relating to a close family member you must provide details of the relationship the pupil has to the family member.

We cannot accept applications by email, or applications sent directly to markers.

Sensitive information

NCA tools is a secure website. STA will respond to all applications submitted for special consideration. Local authorities do not have access to these applications.

After submitting your application

You will receive an automated email once we have reviewed your application. You should check the outcome of the application, or see whether additional information is required, by logging in to the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools.

If we have granted special consideration, it may not apply for all subjects. You can see the outcome of your application under ‘Decisions’ in the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools.

We will confirm the outcome of correctly submitted applications by Friday 23 June.

Getting help

Standards and Testing Agency

For general enquiries about national curriculum tests.

Published 2 September 2013
Last updated 30 March 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated for the 2017 test cycle.
  2. Updated for the 2016 test cycle
  3. Deadline for applications revised for 2015 key stage 2 test cycle.
  4. First published.