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National reference test 2020 - information for secondary schools

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Ofqual's Chief Regulator is writing to all of the schools selected to participate in the 2020 National Reference Test (NRT), which will take place between 24 February and 6 March 2020.

This letter provides further details on the NRT and also contains an introduction to the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) who will be conducting the test on Ofqual's behalf. Heads of Centre are kindly requested to provide details for a nominated member of staff to liaise with the NFER as promptly as possible.

For more information about the test, please visit the National Reference Test document collection.

All state schools are required to participate in the NRT, with the exception of small schools or special schools who are excluded from the sample. The head teacher of a designated school must arrange for those pupils selected by the test supplier to take a national reference test. For maintained schools, the requirement is part of Key Stage 4 assessment arrangements. For academies and free schools, it is a requirement of the school funding agreement.

This does not represent a change in the rules around the NRT. Rather, Ofqual has previously said that the legislation applies to 'most' academies so as to be able to direct schools to the relevant clause in their funding agreement where the specific wording may vary. However, Ofqual recognises that 'most' is not helpful as it suggests some doubt as to whether an individual school is or is not required to take part. Therefore from 2020 onwards published guidance will clarify that all maintained, academy and free schools are, if selected, required to take part.

First published 13 September 2019