CRUCIAL school tests for Buckinghamshire’s children are set to be delayed after the coronavirus pandemic “severely disrupted” learning since March.

Secondary transfer tests — also known as ‘11 plus’ exams — decide whether children will study at one of the county’s grammar schools or whether they will study at an ‘all-ability’ school once they reach secondary school age.

READ MORE: 'Getting rid of 11-plus could be Bucks' Colston moment'

Exams for 2021 secondary school entry were due to be held in the second week of September 2020, but they will now be pushed back to allow children time to “settle back into school”.

A statement on The Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools (TBGS) website read: “Subject to permission from the Department for Education (DfE), TBGS is planning to test children later than usual this year.

“Schooling has been severely disrupted for children since March.

“Most Year 5 children will have had little or no time at school from 20 March until September.

“TBGS considered several options but did not consider it fair for these children to take the test at the usual time.

“Testing later will allow more time for children to settle back into school. Later testing will also allow schools more time to get used to the new working practices with more children on site.”

READ MORE: Questions asked about future of Bucks 11-plus exams

New dates for the exams are dependent on the Department for Education approving the delay, but TBGS indicated it wished for them to be held “later in the autumn term”.

According to TBGS, this would mean out-of-county testing would take place between Tuesday 27-Friday, October 30, and in-county testing would take place from Monday 2-Thursday, November 5.

But TBGS has warned that if the DfE refuses the delay, exams will have to go ahead on Thursday, September 10 as originally planned.

A frequently asked questions page has been set up by TBGS to deal with questions posed by parents about the change in exam dates.

The key points are:

  • Tests will be held in line with government guidance about social distancing, meaning fewer children are tested in each session so that desks can be further apart.
  • The format of the test will stay the same, meaning there will be a practice test before the actual test
  • Children can be tested later if families have already booked holidays for half-term week
  • TBGS is not expecting the DfE to change the date for when parents get the chance to express their secondary school of choice (October 31), but this means this will come before test results are known.
  • The tests will be further delayed if there is another coronavirus spike.

Another of the FAQs asked ‘how will the test be fair given the experience of learning children have experienced since March has been so variable?’

The response read: “The Secondary Transfer Test assesses ability rather than current achievement.

READ MORE: Fears raised about disadvantaged children sitting 11-plus exams

“All children will have experienced some disruption to their education. How much learning they will have been able to do will vary and some disadvantaged children may have been particularly badly affected.

“This is the key reason why we want to test later this year as this will allow all children to settle back into schooling and back into learning.”

The FAQ also revealed parents unhappy with their children’s score will be able to appeal to a review panel.