Guidance

Key stage 2 tests: how to use access arrangements

Guidance for teachers and headteachers about access arrangements for pupils to participate in the 2016 key stage 2 national curriculum tests.

Introduction

A small number of pupils may need additional arrangements so they can take part in the KS2 tests. Headteachers and teachers must consider whether any of their pupils will need access arrangements before they administer the tests.

Access arrangements should be based primarily on normal classroom practice for pupils with particular needs. They must never provide an unfair advantage. The support given must not change the test questions and the answers must be the pupils’ own.

We have produced some videos demonstrating how to apply for additional time, compensatory marks for spelling, early opening and timetable variations.

Some access arrangements must be applied for in advance:

Access arrangement Deadline for applications Notification of outcome
Compensatory marks Monday 29 February Monday 11 April
Early opening Monday 29 February Monday 11 April
Additional time Monday 11 April On completion of the application

Details about how and where to apply are included in specific access arrangements sections.

There are some access arrangements which don’t require an application but for which schools are required to notify STA about their intended use:

Access arrangement Notification form available Deadline for submitting notification
Scribes Thursday 12 May Friday 20 May
Transcripts Thursday 12 May Friday 20 May
Word processors or other technical or electrical aids Thursday 12 May Friday 20 May
Administering the tests at an alternative location Friday 6 May Friday 20 May

Other access arrangements may be put into place without prior approval and without the need to make a notification. However, the use of these arrangements must reflect normal classroom practice.

Details are provided for the following requirements:

  • readers
  • prompters
  • rest breaks
  • written or oral translations
  • apparatus in mathematics tests
  • modified test papers
  • injured pupils

If schools use access arrangements for a pupil inappropriately, the pupil’s results may be annulled.

Section 5, Participation in the tests, of the key stage 2 ‘Assessment and reporting arrangements’ provides a detailed summary of who access arrangements are for and how they can be used.

Due to the diversity of pupils’ needs this guidance doesn’t list every circumstance where it would be appropriate to use access arrangements. When planning for the tests you should think of any needs your pupils may have and whether they receive additional support as part of normal classroom practice. Some pupils may not be able to access the tests, despite the provision of the additional arrangements.

If this guidance doesn’t cover a pupil’s needs, you should contact us.

Contact STA about an individual pupil’s access arrangements using the ‘Message us’ page in the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools. For general enquiries contact the national curriculum assessments helpline on 0300 303 3013.

Important dates

Milestone Date
Access arrangements section of NCA tools website opens for applications for additional time, compensatory marks, early opening and timetable variations Monday 1 February
Deadline for schools to submit applications for compensatory marks and early opening Monday 29 February
Deadline for schools to make applications for additional time Monday 11 April
Schools notified of the outcome of their applications for compensatory marks and early opening Monday 11 April
Online notification form for administering the tests at an alternative location opens on the NCA tools website Friday 6 May
Online notification form of the use of a scribe/transcript/word processor or other electronic aid opens on the NCA tools website Thursday 12 May
Deadline for submitting notifications of scribes, transcripts, word processors or other technical or electrical aids, administering the tests at an alternative location Friday 20 May

Additional time

Applications must be made via the online application through the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools and additional time must be awarded before it can be administered in the tests. The deadline for applications is Monday 11 April.

Pupils automatically qualify for additional time if they:

  • have a statement of special educational needs or an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
  • use the braille or modified large print (MLP) versions of the tests

Schools do not need to complete an application for these pupils.

Pupils with a statement of special educational needs or EHCP are allowed up to 25% additional time, except for the spelling task, which is not strictly timed. Pupils who use the braille or MLP versions of the tests can have up to 100% additional time.

Additional time to complete the tests may be appropriate for other pupils who:

  • use additional time as part of normal classroom practice
  • are working at the standard of the KS2 tests
  • use the standard versions of the tests

Some pupils should not be given additional time as they should not be taking the tests. These pupils will be:

  • working below the standard of the tests
  • working at the standard of the tests but unable to participate even using access arrangements

Making additional time applications

Applications are made through the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools. The application form will be available from Monday 1 February and must be submitted by Monday 11 April. You may find it helpful to watch our video demonstrating how to apply for additional time.

Maintained schools, including academies and free schools, need to provide pupils’ UPNs when completing applications. Independent schools do not need to provide a pupil UPN.

Applications should be made by a teacher who has a good knowledge of the particular pupil’s needs and abilities. Applications are determined by the teacher’s responses to the application questions. Reports from educational psychologists or other education professionals are not required. This is because additional time should be based primarily on normal classroom practice and might apply to pupils that do not hold such a report. Where a report is already in place, teachers might choose to use them to inform their responses about the pupil.

Applications can’t be amended. You should read the Additional time application questions (MS Word Document, 32KB) before starting to make an application. This will ensure that you understand what information is needed to complete the application process.

You will need to respond to 7 questions about the pupil. The questions draw on your knowledge of the pupil and your ability to assess an individual pupil and their particular abilities or needs.

All questions should be answered before submitting the form. On completion of the application you will be given information about the use of additional time and/or any alternative access arrangements for the pupil, based on your responses to the questions.

If additional time has not been awarded it is because the pupil does not meet the criteria for additional time. In these circumstances, you may wish to consider alternative access arrangements for the pupil. Advice on this will be given on the application outcome.

Schools must have evidence to justify their decisions regarding the use of additional time in case they receive a monitoring visit.

Local authorities (LAs) do not consider applications for additional time, although they will be able to view schools’ completed applications. Schools that use additional time or any other access arrangement inappropriately will be subject to a maladministration investigation. This could lead to pupils’ results being amended or annulled.

Specific uses of additional time

Please refer to the following sections for guidance on using additional time in specific circumstances:

Compensatory marks

Applications require approval before compensatory marks will be awarded, via the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools. The deadline for applications is Monday 29 February. You may find it helpful to watch our video demonstrating how to apply for compensatory marks.

Compensatory marks may be awarded to pupils who have a profound hearing impairment and do not use lip-reading or a signing system. They are available for the spelling component of the English grammar, punctuation and spelling test.

Compensatory marks are based on the average raw score achieved by the pupils who participated in the pre-testing phase of the test’s development. Awarding compensatory marks allows pupils to receive a test outcome for the English grammar, punctuation and spelling test.

If a pupil takes the spelling test, when compensatory marks have been approved, the pupil will be awarded marks based on their performance in the test. They will not be awarded the compensatory marks.

Early opening

Applications require approval before early opening can be administered, via the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools. The deadline for applications is Monday 29 February. You may find it helpful to watch our video demonstrating how to apply for early opening.

Schools may open test papers, including modified test papers, up to 1 hour before a test is due to start without seeking permission from STA. This flexibility is designed to help schools that need to make small adaptations for their pupils, eg photocopying test papers onto coloured paper.

If you need to open test papers, including modified test papers, more than 1 hour before a test is due to start you must submit an application for early opening. Permission is required in all cases, regardless of a pupil’s provision as determined in the Special educational needs (SEN) code of practice.

We will only allow schools to open standard test materials more than 1 day before the tests, or modified materials more than 2 days before the tests, in exceptional circumstances. Justification must be provided with the early opening application.

Subject specific guidance which is provided with the modified tests and models provided with the MLP and braille tests can be opened as stated on the test packs and do not require permission for early opening. Please refer to the guidance in the Modified Test Administration Guidance .

Applications made after the deadline of Monday 29 February will only be considered under exceptional circumstances. Examples of exceptional circumstances for an application to be considered after the application deadline are where a pupil’s needs have changed or a pupil arrives at the school after 29 February. In such cases you should contact STA using the ‘Message us’ system in the NCA tools website to discuss the pupil’s requirements.

All schools that apply for early opening will be notified of the outcome of their application via NCA tools by Monday 11 April.

The headteacher is responsible for safeguarding the security and confidentiality of test materials before the administration of the tests and until they are dispatched for marking.

Eligibility

Schools will only be given permission to open test materials early if they need to prepare apparatus or make adaptations to text. Early opening may be appropriate when:

  • preparations need to be made to use MLP or braille versions of the tests such as setting up visual scanning equipment or preparing tactile examples
  • some, or all, of a test paper needs to be enlarged to a particular font size for a pupil with a visual impairment or specific special educational needs
  • communicators or sign language interpreters need to co-ordinate the presentation of a test to a large number of pupils with a hearing impairment and / or pupils who use sign language
  • a pupil uses apparatus or adaptations to text as part of normal classroom practice that can’t be prepared in the hour before the start of the test These pupils will usually be those:
  • with a statement of SEN or an EHCP as described in SEN Code of Practice or a local equivalent
  • for whom provision is being made in school using the SEN Support system or the School Action or School Action Plus aspect of the SEN code of practice and whose learning difficulty or disability significantly affects their ability to access the tests

You must receive confirmation from STA that an application has been approved before opening test materials early. Only the headteacher or a person making adaptations to text should have access to test papers that have been opened early.

Circumstances when early opening is not appropriate

Early opening to prepare apparatus or make adaptations to text is not appropriate when:

  • a pupil is working below the standard and would not benefit from taking part in the test even with access arrangements
  • a pupil doesn’t use apparatus or have adaptations made to text as part of normal classroom practice
  • a pupil’s needs would be better catered for by other access arrangements such as rest breaks and / or working in a separate room

Scribes

Approval is not required but schools must notify us of their use via the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools, by Friday 20 May.

A scribe is a writing assistant who writes out answers dictated by the pupil.{:#scribe} Schools should consider using a word processor or transcription before deciding to use a scribe. A scribe should only be used if other options are not appropriate and if it is part of normal classroom practice for that pupil. Schools must have evidence to show that resources are routinely used to support the pupil (except in the case of injuries).

A scribe can be used when a pupil is physically:

  • unable to write their own answers or use a word processor
  • able to write but has a motor impairment that causes physical discomfort when writing
  • able to write but writes very slowly
  • able to write but finds writing very difficult
  • unable to write following an injury

Schools should arrange for a scribe in advance when they are aware of a pupil who may need a scribe part way through the test. A scribe might be needed for a pupil:

  • who is known to experience fatigue
  • with a visual / motor impairment and writes over their own handwriting which needs to be made clear

In these circumstances the pupil may start the test as normal and begin using a scribe when needed.

Guidance for scribes

Scribes:

  • must be able to write legibly
  • must be able to write at a reasonable speed
  • must not be another pupil at the school or a relative / carer or guardian of the pupil
  • should have a working knowledge of the subject
  • may also act as a reader

The scribe must not pause for spellings to be dictated unless the pupil usually works this way. Pausing is allowed in the spelling component of the English grammar, punctuation and spelling test. All language, punctuation and phrasing must be the pupil’s own.

The scribe must:

  • not transcribe a braille script to print
  • make a correction on a typescript or braille script if asked to do so by the pupil
  • work at the pupil’s pace and not hurry them if they need time for reflection / rest or reading
  • follow precisely the pupil’s instructions to draw or add to diagrams / charts and graphs in the mathematics tests

If a pupil needs a scribe because of an injury that occurred in the week before the tests schools may allow 25% additional time as well as the use of the scribe This is only for circumstances where the pupil is unfamiliar with working with a scribe. Schools do not need to apply for additional time in this instance.

Making notifications of the use of a scribe

You do not need to request permission from STA or your LA when using a scribe but you do need to complete the online notification form on the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools. This is available from Thursday 12 May. You must not send copies of the notifications with the test scripts as this will slow down the marking process.

At the end of each test, test administrators should make a note of which pupils used a scribe and give the information to their headteacher. The headteacher must use this information to complete an online notification form via the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools.

The form should be filled out once all tests have been completed. It must be submitted before the headteacher’s declaration form and by Friday 20 May.

Transcripts

Approval is not required but schools must notify us of their use via the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools, by Friday 20 May.

Schools can transcribe all or part of a pupil’s test script, if it will be very difficult for a marker to read the pupil’s writing. If the marker can read the pupil’s writing, they will mark the original work.

When transcribing a pupil’s work schools must remember that:

  • a transcript can only be made at the end of the test
  • a different colour pen, but not red, must be used to transcribe onto the pupil’s script
  • extensive / full transcripts should be transcribed onto a new test paper
  • the test administrator should transcribe the work with the pupil present before the pupil leaves the test room
  • the pupil should be kept separate from the rest of the cohort until the transcript is complete
  • care must be taken to ensure that no original answers are changed
  • they must not correct the pupil’s spelling in the spelling test
  • punctuation and phrasing must be the pupil’s own
  • the pupil’s original test script must be sent to the marker

Pupils who can’t read their own writing should use a word processor or scribe, if this is normal classroom practice. Braille test scripts should not be transcribed as STA will make appropriate marking arrangements.

Making notifications of the use of a transcript

You do not need to request permission from STA or your LA to create a transcript of a pupil’s script but you do need to complete the online notification form on the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools. This is available from Thursday 12 May. You must not send copies of the notifications with the test scripts as this will slow down the marking process.

At the end of each test, test administrators should make a note of which pupils used a transcript and give the information to their headteacher. The headteacher must use this information to complete an online notification form via the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools.

The form should be filled out once all tests have been completed. It must be submitted before the headteacher’s declaration form and by Friday 20 May.

Word processors or other technical or electrical aids

Approval is not required but schools must notify us of their use via the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools, by Friday 20 May.

Mathematics and English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests

Pupils may use word processors or other technical or electrical aids during the mathematics and English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests provided:

  • it is normal classroom practice and schools have evidence to show this
  • the equipment doesn’t read mathematical symbols in the mathematics tests or punctuation in the English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests
  • the equipment is used on a one-to-one basis, preferably in a separate room to the rest of the cohort

You must test the functionality of the equipment by using the sample tests sample tests link. If there is functionality which can’t be turned off which would provide the pupil with an advantage the pupil must not use the equipment. You may arrange for the test to be read to the pupil or for a scribe to record the pupil’s answers instead.

English reading test

Word processors or electronic or technical aids may be used to record pupils’ answers to the English reading test. They mustn’t be used to provide reading support, other than to read the general instructions on page 3 of the reading answer booklet.

Schools must ensure that the guidance relating to the use of readers is adhered to. Inappropriate use of equipment may lead to annulment of the pupil’s results.

Making notifications of the use of a word processor or electronic or technical aid

You do not need to request permission from STA or your LA If a pupil uses a word processor or electronic or technical aid (including electronic readers and pens) but you do need to complete the online notification form on the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools.This is available from Thursday 12 May. You must not send copies of the notifications with the test scripts as this will slow down the marking process.

At the end of each test, test administrators should make a note of which pupils used a word processor or electronic or technical aid and give the information to their headteacher. Headteachers must use this information to complete the form on the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools.

The form should be filled out once all tests have been completed. It must be submitted before the headteacher’s declaration form and by Friday 20 May.

Administering the tests at an alternative location

Approval is not required but schools must notify us where tests are administered at an alternative location to the rest of the cohort via the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools, by Friday 20 May.

At the headteacher’s discretion, a test or tests may be administered to one or more pupils at an alternative location to the rest of the cohort. The headteacher is responsible for ensuring that the security of the test(s) is maintained and the test(s) are administered in accordance with the test administration instructions.

The headteacher must also complete the notification form on the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools. This is available from Friday 6 May.

Readers

Approval or notification is not required, but the arrangement must reflect normal classroom practice.

The use of a reader must reflect normal classroom practice. Schools must have evidence to show that resources are routinely committed to providing this support. A reader must only be used on a one-to-one basis. In most cases, this will apply to pupils whose reading age is considerably lower than their actual age.{:#reader}

Schools don’t need to request permission from STA or their LA to use a reader.

Readers are usually teachers or support assistants and they:

  • don’t need to be specialists in the subject being tested
  • should be able to read accurately and at a reasonable speed
  • must not be another pupil at the school or a relative / carer or guardian of the pupil

Before the test period, readers must understand:

  • the test format and style
  • their role and what may or may not be read to a pupil in particular tests
  • any subject-specific issues that might occur

Schools should consider testing pupils in a separate room if they need more than single words or sentences read to them. For example a pupil’s individual education plan may show that they need the whole question paper read to them so that they can access the test.

If a pupil requests it, the reader may also read back any part of a pupil’s response.

Eligibility

Readers must not be used with pupils who are capable of reading the test materials on their own. STA will monitor schools during the test period to make sure readers are used correctly. The inappropriate use of readers may lead to the annulment of a pupil’s results.

English reading tests

The reader may only help the pupil to read the general instructions. This includes information on the front cover of the test paper and any directions that are not part of the actual questions. For example the reader may say ‘Questions 1–12 are about The Humble Potato (pages 4–5).’ The reader must not read the texts, questions or any part of a pupil’s response back to the pupil.

English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests

Readers are allowed for the English grammar, punctuation and spelling test if it is part of normal classroom practice. ‘Notes for readers in the English grammar, punctuation and spelling test: short answer questions’ gives examples of how particular types of questions should be read aloud to a pupil. Readers should make sure they understand the guidance so that they can read each question type correctly, in particular questions with multiple choice answers. This is so they don’t give pupils an advantage by reading questions in a particular way.

Mathematics tests

A reader may help a pupil to read the mathematics tests. They may:

  • clarify instructions as long as no additional information is given and the assessment is not invalidated
  • read but not clarify subject-specific vocabulary
  • refer a pupil back to the previous part of the question in multi-part questions

If a mathematics question is read to a pupil the reader may read words and numbers but not mathematical symbols. This is so that the function of a mathematical symbol is not inadvertently explained by reading its name.

Prompters

Approval or notification is not required, but the arrangement must reflect normal classroom practice.

A pupil with severe attention problems may be supported by a prompter. The use of a prompter must be normal classroom practice. Verbal prompting may be used where this is in line with the support the pupil normally receives in class.

Schools do not need to request permission from STA or their LA to use a prompter.

However, in the event of a monitoring visit schools must:

  • have evidence to show that each pupil using a prompter has severe attention problems
  • be able to show that resources are routinely committed to providing this support

Prompters should:

  • agree the best way to prompt before the test begins
  • be the pupil’s own learning support assistant

Prompters must:

  • only be used on a one-to-one basis
  • only be used to draw a pupil’s attention back to the task
  • not advise the pupil on which questions to do or when to move on to the next question
  • not help the pupil on the order in which to attempt questions
  • be careful that they do not do anything that could be interpreted as over-aiding pupils as this can lead to allegations of maladministration
  • not be a relative / carer or guardian of the pupil

If a pupil finds it difficult to concentrate on individual questions, then schools may choose to use adhesive notes or stickers to cover other questions on the page. In these circumstances the whole question the pupil is currently working on should remain uncovered. This should only be done when it is in line with the support the pupil normally receives in class.

Rest breaks

Approval or notification is not required, but the arrangement must reflect normal classroom practice.

Rest breaks can be appropriate for a pupil who finds it difficult to concentrate or who may experience fatigue. Rest breaks can be provided by splitting the tests into sections or stopping the clock. The content of the test must not be discussed during rest breaks.

English reading test

Rest breaks can be used at any point during the test. You might consider stopping the test once the pupil has either read a particular text or answered the questions for that text, before moving onto the next text in the test.

There isn’t specific guidance for the mathematics or the English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests.

If you decide to split a test, you should be careful to:

  • divide the test into sections during the hour before it is due to start
  • administer all sections of the test on the timetabled day
  • make sure the pupil has the same overall time to complete the test as those who take the test in 1 sitting
  • keep the questions in the same order
  • give the pupil an opportunity to attempt all parts of a paper, so that the test properly reflects their attainment

If the clock is stopped for a pupil you must make sure that you do not give any unauthorised additional time.

Written or oral translations

Approval or notification is not required, but the arrangement must reflect normal classroom practice.

Written translations should be made during the hour before the test is due to start. If, due to exceptional circumstances, it is not possible to do this, an application must be made for early opening of the test materials.

Oral translations may be given by a translator at the time of the tests. This must be on a one-to-one basis. If a pupil answers orally, this must also be on a one-to-one basis. If several pupils require a translator but only 1 is available you should make a timetable variation to stagger the time that pupils take the test or apply for a timetable variation to administer the test on a different day.

The pupil may then write their responses in English or in their first language. If the pupil’s answers are not in English a transcript should be made by the pupil’s usual translator.

The pupil’s original test script must be sent for marking along with the translated test script. You also need to complete the online notification form on the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools. This is available from Thursday 12 May. You must not send copies of the notifications with the test scripts as this will slow down the marking process.

The form should be filled out once all tests have been completed. It must be submitted before the headteacher’s declaration form and by Friday 20 May. The headteacher is responsible for assuring the quality of any translation made.

The headteacher is responsible for assuring the quality of any translation made.

Notes for translators

Translators need to bear in mind that pupils with EAL may not be familiar with some subject vocabulary and technical terms in their preferred language. A translator must not be a relative, carer or guardian of the pupil requiring a translation. Inappropriate use of translators may lead to annulment of the pupil’s results.

The English tests can’t be translated. No help may be given with reading or understanding the questions or passages of text on which questions are based. Only the general instructions on the front cover of the question papers and any directions that are not part of the actual questions can be translated.

Apparatus in the mathematics test

Approval or notification is not required, but the arrangement must reflect normal classroom practice.

If a pupil has difficulties accessing two-dimensional diagrams schools may give them real objects that look like those illustrated in the mathematics tests.

Number apparatus, counters or number squares must not be used.

Test administrators may indicate on the test papers where real objects are available for pupils to look at. Shapes should be identical to those drawn and relative sizes should be the same.

Squared paper should not be given to pupils as a standard resource in the mathematics tests. However, if it is normal classroom practice for a pupil to use squared paper it may be provided for all questions in the arithmetic paper, but should not be available for any questions in either of the reasoning papers.

Making modifications to test papers

Approval or notification is not required, but the arrangement must reflect normal classroom practice.

Schools can make some modifications to test papers, such as photocopying onto coloured paper, enhancing diagrams and enlarging text, up to 1 hour before the tests without requesting permission from STA provided that it is normal classroom practice to do so.

Please refer to the specific guidance about making adaptations to the standard tests provided in the Test Administration Guidance and the specific guidance about making adaptations to the modified test in the Modified Test Administration Guidance.

If more than 1 hour before the test is required the school must apply for early opening of the test papers.

Schools are responsible for ensuring that any modifications made to the tests are done properly. STA can’t compensate or give special consideration where schools have incorrectly modified test papers.

Pupils who are injured at the time of the tests

Approval is not required but notifications via the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools are required if a scribe, word processor or transcript is used.

Schools must not open the tests early because of injuries.

If a pupil sustains an injury within a week of the tests, which affects their ability to take a test, eg if they break their writing arm or hand, you can provide them with a scribe, allow them to use a word processor or make a transcript of their test paper and allow them 25% additional time for the test.

You do not need to apply for permission to award additional time but you do need to complete the online notification form on the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools if a scribe, word processor or transcript is used. This is available from Thursday 12 May. Schools must not print off and send copies of the notifications with their test scripts as this will slow down the marking process.

At the end of each test, test administrators should make a note of which pupils used a scribe, transcript, or word processor or electronic or technical aid and give the information to their headteacher. The headteacher must use this information to complete an online notification form via the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools. The form should be filled out once all tests have been completed. It must be submitted before the headteacher’s declaration form and by Friday 20 May.

If a pupil sustains an injury more than a week before the tests you can provide them with a scribe, a word processor or make a transcript of their test paper but they are not allowed additional time. You should give the pupil the chance to practice with a scribe, or word processor under test conditions.

Pupils with injuries who take the tests do not qualify for special consideration as alternative access arrangements are available.

Pupils who are ill at the time of the tests

Pupils who are ill on the day of a test should not sit them. Schools should consider using a timetable variation if it is a minor illness and a pupil is not able to take the test on the published test date. Pupils who were ill but still took the test do not qualify for special consideration as they shouldn’t have taken the test if they were unwell. ##Getting help

Standards and Testing Agency

For guidance on ordering modified test materials.

Standards and Testing Agency

For general enquiries about national curriculum tests.