National curriculum assessments: reporting maladministration

Information for teachers, LAs and parents with concerns about how schools have carried out national curriculum assessments.

The national curriculum assessments include:

  • key stage 1 tests
  • key stage 1 teacher assessments
  • phonics screening check
  • key stage 2 tests
  • key stage 2 teacher assessments

Maladministration is defined as any act that:

  • affects the integrity, security or confidentiality of the national curriculum assessments
  • could lead to results and / or outcomes that do not reflect pupils’ unaided work or actual abilities

Maladministration can lead to changes to, or annulment of, results for whole cohorts, groups of pupils or individual pupils.

How to report a concern

If you have concerns about how the national curriculum assessments have been administered at a school, you should contact the Standards and Testing Agency (STA). STA is responsible for investigating any allegations of maladministration. It is important that STA gather as much information from you as possible, in order to be able to investigate the allegations effectively.

As stated within the published maladministration investigation procedures we will keep the name of the person making the allegation confidential. It is important to note that it is not STA’s policy to keep the person making the allegation informed of the progress of an investigation, or notify them of the outcome.

Examples of maladministration

The key stage 1 (KS1) assessment and reporting arrangements and the key stage 2 (KS2) assessment and reporting arrangements set out the statutory responsibilities for schools when administering national curriculum assessments.

In the KS1 and KS2 tests, and the phonics screening check, maladministration could be:

  • incorrect opening of test papers or phonics screening check materials
  • pupils cheating
  • pupils being over-aided
  • resitting of a test or check
  • changes being made to pupils’ test scripts outside of test conditions
  • incorrect reporting of pupils’ check scores

Maladministration of teacher assessment could be:

  • inflation or deflation of teacher assessment judgements of pupils’ work to influence school assessment outcomes
  • submission of different data to that agreed following local authority (LA) moderation
  • submitting evidence as independent work which has been heavily supported by an adult (scaffolding evidence) that is used to justify teacher assessment standards
  • over-aiding in tests that are used as evidence to justify teacher assessment standards

How national curriculum assessments should be carried out

STA has published guidance for teachers on how to correctly administer the KS1 and KS2 tests and the phonics screening check. We have also published guidance to support teachers in making their teacher assessment judgements at KS1 and KS2.

Maladministration investigations

Our published maladministration investigation procedures provide details of the process STA will follow when investigating maladministration allegations.

Getting help

For reporting concerns about the national curriculum assessments:


National curriculum assessments helpline 0300 303 3013

For general enquiries about national curriculum tests:


National curriculum assessments helpline 0300 303 3013

Published 16 April 2014
Last updated 23 March 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated for the 2017 test cycle.
  2. First published.