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Cotham School

Cotham School Expansion Consultation - March 2017

Cotham School Consultation on Expansion from 8 to 9 Forms of Entry

Background information

Over recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of primary aged children within Bristol, this has led to a large increase in primary school places within the last few years. 

The City Council’s School Organisation Strategy (published in 2014) provides information about the impact that the increase in Primary school places will have in the future.  It details the difficulty that the Local Authority (LA) faces in ensuring there are enough Secondary school places for those children as they move through the system.

The Local Authority has a statutory duty to provide sufficient school places for children resident in its area. To address the known shortfall, it has already been agreed that new schools will need to be built.  The LA has also asked a number of existing secondary schools to expand.

Cotham was approached by the LA during the Spring/ Summer terms of the 2015-16 academic year to see if we could support them in meeting the additional basic need for secondary school places in the City.  We are keen to support the LA and Bristol families, however our site buildings are at full capacity and we are unable to offer any additional places within our existing buildings.

Following further discussions with the LA this academic year they have agreed, in principal, to provide additional funding to enable a further 8 classrooms and an additional dining facility to be built on the school site which will allow Cotham’s Planned Admission Number to increase to 243 (9 forms of entry) from September 2018.

Cotham is heavily oversubscribed, notwithstanding second choice applications, first choice applications are increasing year on year and it is with regret that not all students who wish to join our school community are able to do so. To accommodate an increase to our PAN we will need additional classrooms, however, the site development that is being considered will also provide significant benefits in improved classroom space and facilities for our current students

Our goal / objective

Our goal/objective is to facilitate the expansion of Cotham School to support the citywide shortage of secondary school places and be better placed to accommodate parental preference in their choice of secondary school for their child.

We are currently working with the LA to design and deliver a programme of building works that will provide significant benefits to our current students whilst also enabling an increase to our student roll.

Our proposed site development will provide:

Twelve additional general teaching classrooms

Our current provision is inadequate for our current students, the Governing Body has already approved the use of accrued reserve funds to provide an additional 4 classrooms on the school site, the City Council will provide a further 8 classrooms.  We hope this will enable all lessons to be taught in rooms appropriate for the subject; we currently have no choice other than to timetable some subjects in classrooms that are designed for specific subjects (e.g. Science Laboratories, Food Technology Rooms).

The additional classrooms will also free-up additional space for the school’s Inclusion team which includes our Special Educational Needs, Literacy and English as an Additional Language specialist teams who work with an increasingly large number of students.

Additional Purpose Built Dining Facilities

We currently have just one very small and inadequate Dining Hall.  The Dining Hall is used by students who choose the school’s main (hot) menu each day.  The cold food available is limited due to the constraints of the external catering point from which it is served.  We can only offer sandwiches, baguettes, wraps etc for students who eat in the school hub or outdoors.   We want to improve the range and variety of food offer to students who do not wish to eat a hot meal.  An additional dining facility would enable our existing students to benefit from a more varied, interesting and nutritious selection of food in comfier surroundings.  This will only be possible with an additional purpose- built dining facility.

An All Weather Pitch

The school has planning approval for an All Weather Pitch on the school field.  The delivery of this project will be managed as part of the overall development thus allowing correct phasing of works to minimise disruption to our current students.  The end result being greatly improved external space for students to use all year round rather than only at times when the weather allows.

A remodelled Student Reception Area

The project will also reconfigure the Cotham Road entrance to become the main entry and exit point to the school for students.  There will be no external alterations, but internal remodelling to create a spacious and dedicated Student Reception area which will improve access and egress for our students.


As part of the process of expanding our school we are consulting with parents, carers and other stakeholders to provide the opportunity to give their views about the proposal

The consultation timeline

We apologise for the tightness of this timeline, however should the outcome of the consultation be to proceed with the increase to our PAN then the City Council will have an extremely tight schedule to work with to ensure our new facilities will be completed by September 2018, part of the City Councils responsibility will be to consult on the proposed site development, this will be a separate consultation, but it is likely that it will need to commence before this consultation has been completed.

No formal agreements or contracts will be approved prior to the completion of this consultation and subsequent approval of the project by the Regional Schools Commissioner.



Consultation starts

02 March 2017

Consultation ends

31 March 2017

Outcome of consultation considered by the Governing Body and decision regarding whether to proceed advised to Council

  3 April 2017

Governing Body submit ‘fast track’ application to DfE for approval to expand – if applicable

  5 April 2017

Proposed implementation – if applicable

1 September 2018


We want to know what you think about this proposal, to submit your views, please complete the on-line form which is available here.

If you wish to contact the school with a question direct, please email



Below is a list of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ that may help to address some immediate concerns that you have.  This list will be updated if additional questions are received and will be published on the school website.

Q - What is being proposed? 

To work with the City Council in addressing a shortage of Secondary School Places we propose an increase to the school’s Planned Admission Number from 216 to 243 (8 to 9 forms of entry).

To accommodate the increase the site will be developed to provide a new block which will comprise of 12 general teaching classroom, a purpose built dining hall and office accommodation. 

Q – My child currently attends Cotham School how can I be assured that standards and provision would be maintained and improved if the school is expanded? 

The school is fully committed to continuing to provide a curriculum that is well designed and matched to the needs, abilities, interests and aspirations of all of their children and are confident in their ability to do so for an extended number of children.

Q - Would Cotham School be able to continue to provide a full and varied curriculum on the expanded campus?

The curriculum taught across Cotham School is well designed and matched to the needs, abilities, interests and aspirations of all children. Staff regularly review this curriculum and would simply continue to plan this to meet the needs of the additional children. The school also already has an extremely well developed extra-curricular programme and extended school activities which would be able to be accessed by all new children joining the school. We anticipate that the enhanced facilities would provide more curricular and extra-curricular opportunities for our pupils.

Q – Have you considered the impact of an expansion on transport, traffic flow and car parking?

The Travel Plan will be considered as part of the overall development project.  This will include parking and access to the school.

Q - Who is involved in the project?

Skanska (builders) are working with Bristol City Council, Cotham School, and the Local Education Partnership (LEP).

Q - What is the timetable for the build?

We hope that building work will commence towards the end of this academic year and be completed for the start of the 2018 – 2019 academic year.

Q – When would the new facilities open? 

Subject to completion of the build, we would expect the new facilities to be operational from September 2018.

Q – How would admissions to the expanded campus be managed?

The same admissions arrangements and criteria would remain in place for the expanded school and the catchment area for the school would remain unchanged. The only difference would be that a total of 243 places would eventually be available per year group.

Q – Would this expansion impact upon the existing staff at the school?

The  school would  recruit new teaching  staff as necessary to enable the larger school to operate effectively.

Q - Will there be an increase in the number of students admitted to the North Bristol Post 16 Centre?

No, there will be no change to the arrangements for our Post 16 student intake