Special consideration – key stage 2 SATs guidance

Posted on April 27th, 2022

The DfE has just updated (25 April 2022) its guidance for schools on the circumstances under which pupils can be given special consideration when they sit their KS2 tests later this term because their results could be affected by traumatic circumstances at the time of the tests. The guidance makes it clear that there is a narrow range of circumstances that apply to exceptional cases only.

Normally, headteachers have a responsibility to ensure that pupils can only take the KS2 tests if they:

  • Are in a fit physical and mental state.
  • Are working to the standards of the tests.
  • Have completed the full KS2 programme of study.

Special consideration situations

There are in fact only five situations in which schools may apply for special consideration. These are:

  • Bereavement involving a family member or close friend, with whom the pupil had frequent contact within 12 months of the tests.
  • If the pupil or a close family member is diagnosed with a terminal illness in the six months before the tests; or if the diagnosis was made more than six months ago but the family member is approaching the end of life at the time of the tests.
  • A traumatic incident or significant change in the pupil’s circumstances occurred at the time of the tests or within the previous two weeks.
  • The pupil or a close family member has suffered a life changing injury or undergone life changing surgery in the six months before the tests.
  • A traumatic incident occurred in the six months before the tests and there was a related incident at the time of the tests or within the previous two weeks.

The guidance lists a considerable number of circumstances that may occur but which are ineligible for special consideration. Many of these have appeared in the past on previous versions of the guidance and schools will probably already be aware whether and how they should use the ‘U’, ‘B’ or ‘J’ codes on the test attendance registers.

New additional ineligibility

However, there is some important additional ineligibility this time of which schools need to take particular note. Pupils are ineligible for special consideration if they:

  • Have been affected by illness or other issues related to coronavirus COVID-19 unless one of the five reasons above apply.
  • Are working at the standard of the tests but have been affected by absence which has prevented them from being taught the full KS2 national curriculum programme of study or reduced their preparation for the tests – this includes periods of home learning in relation to COVID-19.

Other circumstances

Schools should also note that special consideration rules also do not apply where an incident affected the preparation or administration of the tests, such as:

  • A fire alarm going off or other type of disturbance.
  • Incorrect administration of a test.
  • Failure of the school to implement previously agreed access arrangements.
  • Difficulties during the school year such as disturbance cause by building works.
  • Failure of the school to make a timetable variation to cope with any incident at the time of the tests.
  • Test scripts being returned late by the school.


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