Exams and transitions

When a pupil is being treated for cancer they will need additional support when preparing for transitions, such as starting a new class or school. They may also need help to make special arrangements for external exams such as GCSEs.


If the pupil is due to sit external exams, the examinations officer should prepare to make special arrangements in case they are necessary.

These might include:

  • Up to 25% extra time
  • Someone to read or write for them
  • Use of a laptop
  • Taking the exam in hospital, at home or in a separate room at school
  • Rest breaks.

Special consideration

'Special consideration' is an adjustment to a grade to reflect an illness or 'indisposition' at the time of the exam. This would be appropriate if, for example, a pupil was having chemotherapy at the time of the examination. The examinations officer should be fully aware of this and will be able to apply to the exam board. For this and special arrangements, evidence will need to support the application, as outlined in the JCQ guidance which applies to all exam candidates.

In extreme circumstances, eg where a pupil has lost most of a GCSE year to intensive chemotherapy and prolonged hospital stays, it is possible to apply directly to the awarding body to ask if the coursework requirement for that pupil can be reduced. These applications are looked at on an individual basis and whether it is possible or not will depend on specific subject requirements and medical evidence.


  • If a pupil is moving to a new class or school, inform new teachers, school and support staff. Try to reduce any potential anxiety the pupil might have by, for example, arranging for the new teacher to meet the pupil and their parents to discuss their needs.
  • It is also important to manage transitions in the years after treatment has finished. Some children and young people (particularly after brain tumours) may experience long term effects which may impact on their learning.
  • Follow up any signs of distress, poor performance or anxiety by speaking to the pupil and family to find out what can be done to help. Staff at the new school may be able to find ways to support the student through more difficult times.
  • The families' CLIC Sargent Social Worker or outreach nurse may be able to advise or refer the pupil for special support, for example to a hospital psychologist where available.

Updated December 2015. Next planned review 2017.