The government has ordered grammar schools to delay 11-plus tests until at late October at the earliest.
Long-awaited advice was issued today for selective schools – after campaigners feared pupils would be left behind after six months out of school.
Despite SATs, GCSE and A-levels being cancelled, some school entry tests in England were still scheduled to go ahead as soon as September for entry to Year 7 in 2021.
Campaigners said wealthier children with better home-schooling would have a major advantage when all schools reopen in September.
While the timing of the tests is for individual councils or schools, the government today issued guidance saying they should not be held until late October.
The guidance says: “We strongly advise that tests for grammar and partially selective schools are moved back into late October… or to November if local admission co-ordination processes allow.”
It is likely to mean parents of Year 6 pupils will have to make their secondary school choices before knowing the test result.
Parents will be “strongly” advised to list both selective and non-selective schools when they list the preferences for their child.
Otherwise, if their child were to fail the entry test there would be “consequences” for the child, the guidance says.
Councils with grammar schools are being told to offer all parents one extra option when choosing which secondary school their child might attend in 2021.
Kent had already proposed moving its test back a month to October, according to the anti-selective schools group Comprehensive Future.
However, some entry tests in other areas were still scheduled for September.
The campaign warned last month: “Some children lack laptops and internet connections.
“Some have busy working parents who have no time to help with school work.
“And we also know that schools are offering inconsistent approaches to learning – with many private schools offering video lessons while others offer no more than paper worksheets.
“If 11-plus tests go ahead as normal this year we are sure they will be much more unfair than usual.”
The Department for Education said the delay “will enable as many children as possible to get back into the routine of education before being tested”.
That will “minimise the disadvantage caused by the lengthy period many children have had to spend away from school.
“This disadvantage is likely to be especially acute for children eligible for the pupil premium, and for children who face particular barriers to their education.”