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Cotham School

Learning Support (SEND) and Inclusion

Support is divided into two broad areas:  Learning Support (SEND) and Student and Family Support (Inclusion).

Learning Support

Additional learning support is offered to all children who are experiencing significant difficulty in accessing the curriculum because of barriers to their learning by an experienced team of SEND specialists. The department is staffed by a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator (SENDCo), two Deputy SENDCos and a team of Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs), Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) and an Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA).

We offer specific literacy, numeracy, phonics, science, humanities, social skills and life skills interventions as well as in-class support, lunch time clubs and homework support. We also work closely with parents/carers and external SEND professionals, e.g. Educational Psychologists, the Bristol Autism Team (BAT), the Sensory Support Team and the Community Children’s Health Partnership, to reduce and eliminate students’ identified barriers to learning and to support full participation in the school community for students, and prospective students, with a special educational need or disability.

If you would like to find out about the sort of support that we offer, to look around the department, or to talk to a member of our SEND team, please contact us on 0117 919 8000 or by email.

Exam Access Arrangements

Exam Access Arrangements (EAAs) are the reasonable adjustments that are made for eligible students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, for example, extra time to complete  exams, the use of a laptop or assistive technology, a scribe or sitting their exams in a separate room.

Who is eligible for exam access arrangements?

Exam arrangements are only granted if there is evidence that they are a student’s ‘normal way of working’ and the student has a history of need because of a significant and long-term impairment. For example, a student who is eligible for extra time would need to have a history of needing extra time to complete their work and EAA assessment scores that are below average in speed of writing, reading, reading comprehension or processing, demonstrating they work more slowly than others do.

What exam arrangements are available?

Some of the most common arrangements include:

Extra time, which is usually 25%.

A reader for students who have visual impairments or a disability that affects their ability to read accurately themselves. In an exam that assesses reading ability, a human reader is not allowed but, in some cases, a computer reader will be allowed.

A scribe can be allocated to students who have a disability or injury that affects their ability to write legibly.

Modified papers can have different sizes, fonts, colours, braille, or modified language.

Assistive technology: If the student uses assistive technology as their normal way of working, they will be able to use this in their exams. Some of the most common requests are for laptops, exam reading pens, computer text readers and voice processors.

A separate room can be provided for students for whom there is evidence of a long term history of need, a medical diagnosis of an anxiety related condition or a medical need such as epilepsy.

Applying for Exam Arrangements

We begin the initial assessment of students for Exam Access Arrangements in Year 9. Students with low scores or a history of need will complete further standardised assessments to determine whether they are eligible. The school then applies to the Joint Council for Qualifications by the annual deadline, which is usually during February.   

Who assesses Exam Access Arrangements?

At Cotham, the SENDCo and Deputy SENDCos organise exam arrangements and liaise with our Exams Officer to put the arrangements in place. We also have three members of staff who are qualified to assess students for exam access arrangements.

EAAs have to be approved by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which oversees examination boards for GCSEs, A Levels and Functional Skills to create consistency in how exams are run. All schools and colleges have to abide by the JCQ directives and are inspected by JCQ annually to ensure they are following the regulations and that unfair advantages have not been given to any students.

Further information is available at:


Student and Family Support

The Inclusion Department offers a wide range of support and services for students and their families, tailored to need, including mentoring, counselling and behaviour support, in addition to working with external providers and agencies such as Learning Partnership West, Creative Youth Network, Empire Boxing and Off The Record.

If you have any queries please contact Emma Sheppard (Senior Inclusion Manager), Jess Thomas (KS3 Inclusion Manager) or Ali Avery (KS4 Inclusion Manager) on 0117 9198000.


Bristol City Council - Local Support Offer

Bristol City Council - Local Support Offer for parents and carers

You can find information about Bristol City Council’s Local Support Offer here. 


Bristol City Council - Local Support Offer for parents and carers
You can find information about Bristol City Council’s Local Support Offer