Admission to some secondary schools in England is determined or informed by the outcomes of tests and assessments that pupils take during their final year of primary education. Such arrangements are typical of practice in state-funded selective schools or schools in the independent sector.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted some schools that would normally use such tests and assessments to suspend them for the 2020/21 academic year, it is clear that a significant proportion intends to continue to make use of them.

It is critical that such assessments are undertaken in a Covid-secure way. The DfE has published advice and guidance on public health arrangements in relation to the conduct of these tests. This guidance sets out requirements on matters including facilities, venues and social distancing. It also makes clear that arrangements must be consistent with general DfE advice on the operation of schools.

However, in all circumstances, arrangements must be consistent with the NASUWT’s general advice on Covid-19 control measures. As such, tests and assessments are unlikely to have been addressed in settings’ risk assessments relating to their day-to-day practice, it is imperative that a dedicated risk assessment is carried out for such activities in line with the Union’s advice.

The NASUWT would also advise that as such tests and assessments bring together children from a wide range of different schools in a single place, prior advice should be sought from local public health authorities and bodies on the appropriateness of proceeding with such assessments and, if they are deemed appropriate, on any specific measures that need to be put in place to secure the safety and welfare of the staff and children concerned.

Similar advice is also set out in the DfE’s advice and guidance. While the DfE’s advice has not been updated to reflect the restrictions imposed on the operation of schools from the start of the spring term in England, it is clear that current circumstances prevent any such tests from being undertaken.

The NASUWT will continue to seek further clarification on the expectations of governments on the conduct of these tests. Members with concerns about proposals for the conduct of entrance tests and assessments should seek advice and support from the NASUWT directly.