The parents of two children in Northern Ireland have won High Court permission to challenge decisions to delay this year's post-primary transfer tests.
A judge on Tuesday granted leave to seek a judicial review into claims the postponements of at least two weeks due to coronavirus will further discriminate against disadvantaged families.
Mr Justice McAlinden pledged to oversee a full hearing over the summer period due to the urgency and significance of the case.
Proceedings have been issued against the Association for Quality Education (AQE), and the Post-Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC).
Each autumn the two organisations provide tests used by most grammar schools in Northern Ireland to select their intake.
But this year's exams were deferred because of the wider Covid-19 crisis.
These children are disadvantaged in particular ways by the delay being proposed.Donal Sayers QC
Lawyers representing two pupils due to sit the tests contend that the decision to delay by a matter of weeks amid so much disruption to their education is unlawful.
They allege a failure to properly consult, as well as arguing that moving to new dates in November and December is unfair and in breach of human rights.
Both children have been granted anonymity in the joint case.
The court heard one of them is currently being educated in Irish, with neither of her parents fluent enough in the language to help her study.
The other child faces separate issues in preparing for the transfer test due to a diagnosis of autism.
Donal Sayers QC, for both families, said: "These children are disadvantaged in particular ways by the delay being proposed."
However, he further submitted that the decision to put the tests back by two or three weeks will represent a further impediment to more pupils.
"There's a baseline of damage that will inevitably be caused to all by the school closures," Mr Sayers told the court.
"But it will widen the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers."
The challenge is being resisted on a number of grounds, including claims that the testing bodies are private companies exempt from judicial review.
Counsel for AQE added that it would have "moved in tandem" if others had agreed to shift deadlines for the testing process.
Despite this, Mr Justice McAlinden cited the public interest issues involved in the case.
"It's quite clear the schools to which these applicants are applying are schools which are substantially, if not entirely, funded by the state," he said.
He confirmed leave was being granted to seek a judicial review against the AQE, PPTC, and a third respondent, the Education Authority.
Like every other parent, I simply want what is best for my daughter.Mother
The Department of Education has been listed as a notice party.
Outside court the mother of one of the two pupils said she was encouraged and relieved by the outcome.
"I have felt helpless, and my daughter's emotional well-being is suffering," she said.
"I know that this test will have a significant consequence for my daughter's future and life potential.
"Like every other parent, I simply want what is best for my daughter, and this test occurring in November certainly is not that."
Her solicitor, Ciaran Moynagh of Phoenix Law, added: "We must remember at the heart of this are many 10 and 11-year-old children that are extremely anxious about what is expected of them in these uncertain times.
"If this an appropriate delay, we need to know when schools will return and what the proposals to get kids up to speed are.
"If it turns out it is not possible to have a transfer test this year, then proper and consistent admission guidance must come about."