Premature babies and school admissions

(105 Posts)
misslinnet Tue 03-Apr-12 22:48:42

I found a government e-petition about acknowledging prematurity in the Primary Schools Admissions Process.

Many LEAs use a childs actual birthdate to determine when they should start school. In some cases, the childs corrected birthdate would have put them in the following school year. The petition is for asking each LEA and the government to give parents of premature children the choice of when to send them to school and take their degree of prematurity into account.

If the e-petition gets at least 100,000 signatures, it'll be eligible for debate in the House of Commons.

This is of interest to me, as DS was born at 34 weeks in August, so I'm feeling like we'll probably be forced to send him to school a year early if you see what I mean. Although he's only 7 months old now, so too early to tell if it'll be much of a problem for him...

Acknowledging Prematurity in the Primary Schools Admissions Process

I don't disagree with the sentiment that should apply to all or none...but then you introduce the subjectivity. Who decides what the severity of the delay is?

All children in a class are part of a continuous spectrum of developmental stage - where do you draw the cut-off?

What happens to a child that is 2 or more years behind their peers? Do they start 2 years later?

And as for your last point brightness about why you would want a child that got signed off at 2 to start later - at a guess for the same reason that other summer born parents raise concerns - they don't want their child to be the youngest in the class and this would be a 'loophole' for want of a better word for prem parents to exploit on that front.

bronze Sun 29-Apr-12 18:10:16

Brightness is there a real reason you are against this? Would prem children getting the option to defer impact on you in any way?
I can only talk from my experience. As I said earlier in the thread my dd seemed to do really well, so well in fact we wondered how we had been so lucky. Then we began to notice things that didn't seem quite right and we were getting more worried and now dd is at school more and more things are becoming noticeable to people who know her less well too.
Of course I can't guarantee that she wouldn't be the same if she had been born at term but she wasn't, she was born 3 months,1/3rd of a pregnancy early. I have more reason to believe that she would have been well up with her peers if she has been born term, her siblings are all bright and the older two are above average.
There is a lot they can't tell when you go in for that final two year check, I wouldn't have known some of this things I have worries about now. The tests they do at that last check aren't even that in depth in my experience. Some things are still coming to light now.

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 18:18:25

I agree with everything haunted has said. It should be for all not just prems. Im not against it I just think where do you draw the line? why one and not the other? Ive seen 25 weekers do better academically than 34 weekers so, how premature are we talking?

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 18:21:49

Hand on my heart, Ive met too paediatricians who were born at 26/27 weeks with no problems. I bet in the 70's when they went to school things were very different.

One rule for all children, thats my view. They all deserve extra attention/check ups.

FullBeam Sun 29-Apr-12 18:23:30

HLL,

I find your choice of language rather odd. You write about 'preferential treatment' and parents 'exploiting' loopholes.

It's really not like that. As bronze has described, prem babies can be signed and hit all of their milestones but have subtle difficulties with learning later on.

All I would have liked was for my dd to have been offered a school place based on the day she should have been born rather than her birthday. If that had been the case I think she would not have needed so much support and life would have been easier for her, me and her teacher.

We are not talking about a couple of weeks premature, we're talking about 2- 4 months!

Ty brightness...not often I get agreed with.

On the one hand I can see what this proposal aims to acheive, but I really can't see the value over and above the law.that says they don't actully have to go to school until they are 5, and I just see 'where do you draw the line' and 'but my dc isn't prem but has dev problems why can't they start a year later?' Type complications and objections.

I would also like to remind you that I say this as the mother of 27wk dtds, who were due in Aug so are prem and amongst the younger 25% of the class.

I did clarify that particular choice of words on saying that I wanted better words but couldn't think of them.

Any child can show subtle problems at any point through school/life, I don't think that being prem makes them any different in that regard. Although I don't know exactly what problems your Dd has often they can't specifically be attributed to being prem (and I can refer specifically to a medical problem of my own dtd2 to exemplify this). We often just don't know if the 2 are linked and causitive.

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 18:30:28

I have another cousin who is 15 (we have an awful lot of prems in my family!!) who was 27 weeks. Every time she throws a strop its because she was premature and has to "shout louder" when she failed her mocks it was because she was premature, and, thats what her mum told the teachers. Nothing to do with the fact that she was playing on facebook instead of revising then smile

We can keep them at home until five in my area as well. I thought it was nationwide just goes to show how Im not with it

It is nationwide legally (think they have to start at the beginning of the term they will turn 5) although how well publicised/accepted it is is a different matter.

bronze Sun 29-Apr-12 18:36:16

The problem I found with holding them off until five was that all the other children would have already gone through the phonic sounds etc. It wasn't planned for them to repeat everything the next year. All the other children would be moving on. It's even harder to learn when your class already know the information needed and are doing something different. Does the teacher then manage to give them the attention they need? This is why we decided to start her with the other children. The school only has one intake, the younger children did a short period of half days instead. We looked into it and the head teacher was actually happy to allow dd to start a year later in the reception but the lea said she would have to go into year one.

Well that is the choice of the parent, and I think does highlight a problem with in year admissions.

I still fail to believe (as the mother of prems, and friends with other prem parents) that there are many prem children which ate detectably behind their peers at school starting age. There will be some with diagnosed SEN but the severity of those needs will be within.the 'normal' spectrum (which basically enconpases everything anyway), so why should they be treated differently to any other child who was born on 30aug?

bronze Sun 29-Apr-12 19:17:12

Yes great choice hmm

You know you can just not sign the petition

bronze Sun 29-Apr-12 19:27:50

Anyway I'm going to leave it now. The whole system winds me up enough without feeling like i let my dd down in yet another way.

EyeoftheStorm Sun 29-Apr-12 19:35:21

Bronze, I agree with everything you're saying. Starting in term they turn 5 doesn't help when everyone else has had a year of phonics, socialising and becoming accustomed to how the class works.

LeBFG Sun 29-Apr-12 19:36:42

Perhaps some of the reason why practitioners decide to do the corrected age until 2 years is because by that time either the child has 'caught-up' or he hasn't and won't. In this scenario, the idea of keeping prem kids back a year is a debate about whether it's a good thing to hold kids back a year who aren't as bright rather than progessing at their own pace with other kids of their age...

As a mum of a prem I can see why people want to label x problem and say 'ahh, that's because she was born early'. The general trends show up in the statistics....but each child is an individual and (outside obvious issues linked to prem birth) YOU'LL NEVER KNOW if it was prematurity or just one of them things that was the root cause.

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 19:42:08

Exactly. Like I said my 34/40 niece has never been as articulate as her 27/40 sibling. She isnt interested in sitting down and doing her school work. She had speech therapy for two years and was born in the July. No-one has ever said her issues are through being abit prem. They probably are more to do with the fact that she was a Summer baby and the youngest of three sisters who have always done everything for her.

FullBeam Sun 29-Apr-12 19:44:28

bronze, I absolutely get that.

I have also struggled with those feelings that I have let my daughter down in some way. I think that's why I feel so strongly about this issue. I want her not to suffer any disadvantage from being born early.

If it is of any comfort to you, now that my dd is in Year 2, she has started to make better progress and is happier in school. I think she was so overwhelmed by the whole experience of school that she learned very slowly in YR and Y1. She just needed a bit of extra time to get there.

hazeyjane Sun 29-Apr-12 19:48:12

I agree there has to be a different way of assessing whether late entry is better for the child, rather than just making this an option for children who were born prematurely.

We have 2 years to worry about where ds will be developmentally, (July born, due to start school in 2014), at the moment he is over a year delayed in all areas, not walking and at the level of a 6- 8 month old in speech. I think some statemented children can fight to get their child offset by a year, but it shouldn't have to be yet another fight.

bronze Sun 29-Apr-12 19:52:24

I said I wasn't going to post again but thank you full beam. My dd is in year one and jut beginning to grasp the phonic sounds so it seems like she may be similar. The school have been nothing but helpful even within their constraints. We can but hope (and we have been looking at getting her some extra help)

FullBeam Sun 29-Apr-12 19:54:19

Some children won't need to start school later, they might be ready at their uncorrected age.

I think of it as restoring the months they lost in the womb. It doesn't give them an advantage, it just gives them the school start date that they should have had.

FullBeam Sun 29-Apr-12 20:05:36

Bronze, things have just started to click this year and, having been below average in YR and Y1, her teacher thinks she should get average or above in her Year 2 SATS.

I hated sending her to school, particularly in reception, and was constantly worried and upset whilst trying to conceal this from my dd.

slacklucy Sun 29-Apr-12 20:06:55

individualised learning should start before the child starts school.
It shouldnt matter if the child was prem, sick, hospitalised, suffered some other trauma, summer born or for other reasons unknown theye should be assessed as individuals & in conjunction with the parents a decision should be made on school start date.
For some a more gradual introduction is needed, reduced days, additional support etc etc.
Its a bigger issue than purely prematurity or summer/winter born

libelulle Sun 29-Apr-12 20:15:25

This thread has made me quite cross I admit. If you know very early prems who have done fantastically, got to Oxford and become star pediatricians in later life, that's fantastic - but it is NOT the norm. The vast majority of prems born three months early will have some level of developmental delay, regardless of your own anecdotes. Like Hazey, my ds is a June born 22 month old, due in October. He has only just started walking and is more at the level of a child 8-10 months younger in overall development. The thought of him starting school in just over 2 years feels just insane on so many levels. Yes, any child can have delays and personally I'd like there to be flexibility for all. But why object to a measure which would so obviously benefit a group of children who as a group are very likely to face extra issues. If your child is ready, all well and good, but why make parents fight a battle if their child is not?

By the by, I find it just astounding that any parent of a very early baby could state that they don't believe prems as a group face extra disadvantages. You must have gone through NICU with your fingers in your ears!!

slacklucy Sun 29-Apr-12 20:23:38

i dont believe that prems shouldnt get the option to delay school entry BUT it would be better if it were available to all that are struggling.
tbh I wouldnt of cared how ds qualified for delayed entry but i would loved him to stay at home a little longer.
As it was he started school on a split ms & special school arrangement which was totally exhausting for him

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 20:27:10

Or maybe they were given positive feedback all the way through? Surely in that situation you only think about your own baby and, if you dont hear bad news you dont go digging for it? Some people dont want to know. My sister was like that. She used to go in, focus on her baby all day long and then go home, not socialise with anyone or eavesdrop on other peoples conversations. I dont think its about going through NICU with your fingers in your ears at all. Everyone copes in different ways.

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