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

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

Apply for a timetable variation

You must complete the appropriate form on the ‘Access arrangements’ section of the NCA tools website.

Schools can use 2 types of timetable variation. Both must be approved by the headteacher. Timetable variations can be used to change the statutory timetable:

  • by up to a week (5 school days) after the day specified in the statutory timetable
  • so that an individual child can take a test on the scheduled date, but separately from the rest of the cohort, between 7:00am and 7:00pm on the day of a test

Under no circumstances may a test be taken before the day specified in the statutory timetable.

Timetable variations may be granted as long as:

  • children take the test(s) at the nominated time(s)
  • STA is informed of any variation to the nominated time(s)
  • the children are kept apart from other children who have taken the test(s)
  • the children have not had access to the internet

It is maladministration for a school to vary the statutory test timetable without permission from STA or without providing notification to STA, as appropriate. This could lead to the annulment of children’s results.

If you are in any doubt about the type of timetable variation to make, contact the national curriculum assessments helpline.

To move a test by up to 5 school days

Applications will be considered in these circumstances:

  • a child is absent on the day of the test due to illness
  • important appointments that cannot be rearranged, eg hospital appointments, court appearances and national and international sports participation
  • schools being used as polling stations for local or general elections, where it is not possible to continue with test administration in another part of the school
  • delays in the distribution of test materials that affect the administration of tests on the scheduled dates
  • observance of religious or cultural festivals
  • unforeseeable problems with the running of the school, eg flooding
  • having a short working day, eg in a pupil referral unit

STA will not allow a change to the test timetable for:

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


If a child is absent on the day of the test, you should not make your application until the child has returned to school. We will not accept applications unless we are sure which day the test will be taken.

The child must not take the test until the application has been formally approved.

You will need to allow up to an hour for your application to be processed. Please bear this in mind when submitting your application.

You will receive an automated email if your application has been approved, rejected or if more information is required.

Log in to the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools to check the outcome or review the progress of an application.

To vary the time of a test on the scheduled day

You must use the ‘Access arrangements’ section of NCA tools to notify us if you are going to make a timetable variation for individual children on the day of a test. Examples of acceptable circumstances are:

  • a child being ill
  • a child arriving late
  • moving a test to the afternoon for a child who arrives in school on the morning of a scheduled test with a broken arm, so you can arrange for a scribe
  • staggering the tests where a number of children require readers, translators or scribes - and there would not be enough staff to support them if they were to take the test at the same time

In the interest of welfare, the timetable cannot be varied for children to take the tests before 7:00am or after 7:00pm.


You may administer the test to a child once the timetable notification has been made. You do not have to wait until the notification has been formally approved.

Headteachers’ responsibilities

Headteachers must make a judgement about any proposed timetable variations.

Schools must not administer a timetable variation unless the headteacher can confirm that:

  • the content of the test(s) has remained confidential
  • the child has not been in contact with any of the children who have already taken the test(s)
  • the child has not had access to the internet

Headteachers may choose to contact the child’s parents to confirm that the integrity of the tests has been maintained.

Help and support

Standards and Testing Agency

For general enquiries about national curriculum tests.