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

SteepApproach Wed 04-Apr-12 14:04:32

My sympathies, I also have a summer born 34 weeker. Have your doctors told you to expect problems further down the line? Suggest you ask them, if they haven't. I don't know your situation, but will venture that a "straightforward" 34 weeker should be ok.

My lo is almost 2 years with no issues, but the thought of sending her to school not long after her 4th is daunting. However, we are not legally obliged to have children in education (school or otherwise) until the term after their 5th birthday. So you have some choice.

Have signed anyway, though I don't think it addresses the base problem that there needs to be flexibility for all children.

misslinnet Fri 06-Apr-12 00:12:04

The brain scan DS had when a few days old came back normal, and his development so far seems okay for his corrected age.

Hopefully I'm just worrying about nothing...

notforlong Fri 06-Apr-12 00:52:04

My 33 week DD was fine. friend had a 24 week DS he was held back in year one and has caught up well.

SteepApproach Sat 07-Apr-12 13:35:53

misslinnet It's hard not to worry! I do though she was discharged ages ago. Re school, dh said she'd be fine even as a summer born as she's an adventurous little soul and he's right, but still. Glad to hear your ds is doing well so far, no doubt he'll be fine too. smile

circular Sun 08-Apr-12 16:42:26

If it's any help. my 28 week, August born DD was absolutely fine.
Started reception on full days the month after her 4th birthday, after having done ayear of half days in the linked pre-school. She did spend the first term at pre-school in a mixed year group of children born between July and October, but they were split by academic year in the January.

She's 14 now by the way!

slacklucy Sat 14-Apr-12 21:36:12

i dont think its neccesary for LEA's to consider a babies corrected age but what i would love to see is greater consideration to any child with a developmental delay whatever the cause.
my 28 wkr would still be in the same yr group even if they used his corrected age but would be more suited to the year group below.

But then when do you stop? Actually now he is yr 4 he is still more on par with a yr1 child. If there was better provision & individualised learning within classes it would not be needed anyway.

Rant over!!

crazymum53 Mon 16-Apr-12 20:03:23

Basically what happens is that premature children (especially those born at 28 weeks and under) receive extra development checks, as they are more likely to have additional needs. However most children do catch up with their peers by the time they are 2/3 years old. For children who continue to have developmental delays there may be a pre-school assessment to see if the child has any special needs.
My 27 week born dd had caught up with her peers before starting school (there were a few issues when she started pre-school aged 3) and there have been no problems with her coping in school. She is however still in her correct year group though! HTH

HalleLouja Sun 29-Apr-12 11:00:29

I wouldn't think that 6 weeks early is much of a problem. I do have a 34 weeker myself. My friend had her DTs at 30ish weeks and she is so happy they are going to school a year early. Gives her freedom a year earlier. Though they were due in September anyway. So were likely to be a year above.

I also know a 33 weeker who was born in August and has qualified for a competitive private school.

I have met quite a few other premmie babies.

I was nearly in the other camp born at 42 weeks and 31st August, so maybe biased.

FullBeam Sun 29-Apr-12 11:12:05

I have signed the petition. My summer born dd was born at 30 weeks. She struggled in Reception and Year 1 and would definitely have benefited from another year in Nursery. It would have been good to have the option to delay her school starting date but that was not possible in our LA.

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 11:20:10

I dont think it makes the slightest bit of difference. My DN's were born at 27, 30 and 34 weeks. They are all doing fine at school. If anything the 27 weeker is the brightest of the three. I dont think its relevant what gestation they are. Surely it is down to the environment they are brought up in and how much they are being stimulated? Isnt that the same for all children? My sister was always told the first five years are the most import, hence, all the baby Mozart, continuous story books, bloody singing and mother and toddler groups, no telly etc. Honestly, the girls have had no problems. Try not to worry about it.

Most premature babies have caught up with their birth age well before they go to school (typically the age of 2 is quoted and IME mine had caught up by 12-15m and were 27weekers), so I don't see the need to be using 'corrected age' by the time they go to school and therefore think this petition is not necessary for many if not most premature children.

Obviously there are children that will have SEN which is directly or indirectly related to prematurity, and maybe this is a different question. That said should these children be regarded as 'special' SEN chidren just because they have an identifiable cause of SEN and in many cases they would be more than 1 academic year behind their peers anyway.

LtEveDallas Sun 29-Apr-12 11:31:53

My 34 weeker had caught up long before school - in fact I'd say she was ahead of her peers in everything but size. By the time she had started school (age 4) she'd caught up in size too. I'm not convinced there is any need for this petition, sorry.

I would suggest that children with a recognised development delay are in far more need of this. Simply being prem is no marker for delays. And those prem children who do have delays, or do struggle in school - well is there any reason to believe they wouldn't have had these problems in any case, prem or not?

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 11:37:04

I dont think there's any need for it at all. I've seen 25 weekers pass exams to get into private school. All children are different.

fussbucket Sun 29-Apr-12 11:38:28

ddtwins were 33 weeks, and had caught up by the time they were 12 months. I don't think premature birth by itself should be a reason to delay starting school, only developmental delay caused by any reason whether premature or not. So would happily sign an e-petition based on that.

slacklucy Sun 29-Apr-12 11:45:36

brightness - i think you'll find environment doesnt reverse brain damage! quite an insulting post from you from the parent of a 28 wkr with autism, learning difficulties & cerbral palsy. No amount of baby fricking Mozart would help him be an average 9 yr old.
I do also have a very able, bright (if a bit stroppy) 12 yr old... he wasnt raised in a different environment you know.
That said i dont agree there is a need for a petition, all disabled children should be given greater consideration when it comes to school start age

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 11:57:33

Sorry if you read it like that. Its not just prematurity that causes problems is it? I thought we were talking about premature babies getting special treatment because they were born early? when, as you've said yourself, all children desserve to be assessed regularly. You dont have to be born early to get damaged at birth. And, by the way, I wasnt getting on my high horse or bragging about my DN's. My sister got lucky.

FullBeam Sun 29-Apr-12 12:06:48

I'm with you slacklucy.

Brightness Falls, your post suggest that prem babies who have problems have not been stimulated properly! Surely you don't mean that, do you?

Premature babies can have problems which are actually quite subtle as well as more obvious difficulties. My dd was just too young to go to school and found the environment overwhelming. I would have like to have had the choice to delay schooling. Of course some prem babies have no problems and would not need to be delayed.

BTW, I have a problem with the phrase 'catching up'. This is my pet peeve! Why should my daughter have to catch up with children who are 3 months older than her? Are full term babies expected to be 3 months ahead? Little rant over.

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 12:12:54

No, of course I dont mean that!!!! goodness me, I was trying to say that not all prems have problems. My sister overcompensated with the stimulation because that was what the consultant advised her and he also told her that most of them catch up by the age of five if they were straight forward premmies clearly, not all of them are but, alot of these little ones do catch up. So, then she went OTT for the next five years. Thats just what she did. Like I said she was very lucky with her girls.

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 12:14:51

And, arent we talking about school admissions? Even term babies can be in the same year and 11 months appart, cant they? confused

FullBeam Sun 29-Apr-12 12:35:43

I can relate to the overcompensation that your sister did, Brightness Falls. My tendency to do this was partly fuelled by an irrational sense of guilt that my dd had been cheated out of a 'normal' gestation and I wanted to somehow make it up to her. I know that sounds odd!

I think the problem for summer born prem babies is that they are hit by a double whammy of disadvantage. We know from statistics that August born children are educationally disadvantaged. If that child should actually have been born in the following November, they are actually 15 months behind the oldest child in the class. Also, prem babies are more likely to have subtle problems with learning or socialising that may not become apparent until they are at school.

I would say again, that having the choice to delay schooling would have made a great deal of difference to my dd. It is a choice that many would not need to take up but for some prem babies, it could transform their experience of school.

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 12:42:39

Its better to delay it initially rather than two years down the line but, I guess thats when they are full assessed. After they have started school.

I understand the guilt thing, thats exactly what it was. Three in a row. Strangely it was the the last one at 34 weeks that had problems with her speech, and, school work in general she would rather just draw and make pretty things Is this because she was 34 weeks, a July baby or, was it just that she was the youngest of three and the other two have always done everything for her? Its hard to say, isnt it?

FullBeam Sun 29-Apr-12 12:51:00

One of the most difficult things about prem babies is that you can never know to what extent they have been affected by their prematurity. My dd might have struggled in the same way if she had been full term, we will never know.

For me though, whenever she has a problem with anything whether it be the monkey bars or her 5 times table, I wonder if it was because of her prematurity and that brings the guilt back.

bronze Sun 29-Apr-12 12:51:35

Having the choice for all prem babies without having to fight for it would be brilliant.

Have a 27+ weeker august born dd who is definitely bottom of her year. Luckily for us all the infants are together so she is being given the chance to catch up without her knowing she is so behind

We had thought she was ok, she went from strength to strength from after her first fortnight and it's only been in more recent years we've realised she has more (mild) problems than we had realised

None of it is enough for her to be assessed as having problems and won't get her exta help but so fa seem to be managed by her earning with those in the school year below

bronze Sun 29-Apr-12 12:52:00

far ... learning

bronze Sun 29-Apr-12 13:05:07

I hear you
I find it even harder as dd has two fullterm older brothers who are above average. I find it had to comprehend why she would have been so below average if it hadn't been for the prematurity.

The thing is when they're born and they're put in those incubators its because its taking the place of the womb. Maybe (though I can think of other reasons why not) the date used for school application (like birthdate is normally) should be the day they are well enough to come home

For those that are saying that there dcs struggled adjusting to school - are they really only the period of prematurity (i.e. 3-6wks for a 34wker) behind their peers?

(i know that the petition would give them a whole year extra before starting school....but in terms if their developmental delay it should only amount to the period of prematurity (i.e. weeks usually). For those that have more serious delays would waiting the period of prematurity really make the difference? - which although this petition would give them the extra year - is what the argument is grounded on).

FullBeam Sun 29-Apr-12 13:34:32

The petition is about summer born children who, if they had been born on their due date, would have been in the year below.

Autumn born premature children (say born in September with a due date of December) would not have the same disadvantages as summer borns.

So for the most extreme example, it's like a full term baby born on say 30th November 2007 having to start school with children who were born on 1st September 2006.

Many premature children (but not all) are the children who are least equipped to be put into the lively environment of a reception class room with children up to 15 month older than them. To then judge their progress against those of much older children seems very unfair to me.

I realise that. But what about those whose corrected age puts them on 30 Aug, but they are still bot 'ready' for school.

They whole system is asking for children to be assessed on developmental need (and who is to judge that? Why should premature summer born children be given preferrential treatment over summer born non premmies?

Is a premmie born on 30aug truely any less ready for school than a 42wker born on the same day? Is there any evidence to support this petition? Is it supported by anyone like bliss or tommy's (i haven't looked this up as on phone so genuinely don't knoe answer).

The date of a child's birth is fixed in time. Everything else has a degree of subjectivity which opens a whole can of worms.

bronze Sun 29-Apr-12 14:18:40

If its just subjectivity then why do medical professionals use corrected age?

FullBeam Sun 29-Apr-12 14:41:32

Bliss is running a similar campaign but I don't know if they started the petition.

As you are on your phone, I have copied a section from their website for you.

Bliss is campaigning for flexibility for premature-born children starting school. We want children facing developmental delays to be allowed the flexibility to delay their entry to reception class by up to and including a full school year.

Why this is an issue for some premature born children

The majority of babies born premature will go on to lead completely healthy lives. Some, however, may experience difficulties when starting school, as it is not always suited to their needs at the time. Any difficulties that these children do face could be compounded by being placed in the year group above them, had they been born full-term.

'Is a premmie born on 30aug truely any less ready for school than a 42wker born on the same day?'
The answer must be, it depends on the child.

'Why should premature summer born children be given preferrential treatment over summer born non premmies?'
I think, they are not being given preferential treatment, just their situation is being restored, to some extent, to what it should have been if they had been born on their due date. Some prem children have been hugely disadvantaged by being born early, so it gives them a chance to be compensated for that disadvantage.

LeBFG Sun 29-Apr-12 14:47:27

They do, but how to calculate it has been debated. In the old days they sometimes made no allowance of prematurity, now they commonly use corrected age (real age - weeks prematurity). But there is scholarly debate about using partially corrected ages.

Many, many preterm babies (significantly, ones without obvious problems at birth other than the prematurity), as many have attested to in the threads on this forum and according to my pediatrician, do better than babies in their corrected age group.

LeBFG Sun 29-Apr-12 14:48:50

Sorry, my post is in answer to bronze

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 14:49:08

I dont get it at all. Im sorry. Surely there's plenty of children that may not be ready for school for all different kinds of reasons? I dont think picking out premmies is right.

bronze Sun 29-Apr-12 15:16:34

My post was in reply to the last bit of haunteds post
There must be some need for correction if there are debates as to how much correction is needed.

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 15:22:34

Isnt it only up until two though?

johnworf Sun 29-Apr-12 15:26:01

My daughter has jumped up a year because she was born early at 24 weeks. She was due September and was born in the May.

We have been very lucky and she hasn't got any developmental delays. In her case I doubt very much if jumping a year will make much difference to her.

However, I think the choice should be there if a child has delays or if the parents do not think their child is ready to start. At present, there is no provision for parents and I think it's an uphill struggle to delay a year.

EyeoftheStorm Sun 29-Apr-12 15:30:31

I don't think so, BrightnessFalls. DS2's neurosurgeon (talking about premature babies in general) said that there are some things that won't become clear about their abilities and/or delays until they are school age.

startail Sun 29-Apr-12 15:35:03

DD had a friend this happened to, he would definitely been happier in the year below.

scottishmummy Sun 29-Apr-12 15:42:16

your son is currently 7mths, you're wording what ifs about years to come

I don't get your logic,you're won't be sending a year early?
by time start school most prems don't have significant differences

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 15:43:28

I think were we are they get "signed off" at two if their checks are fine at that point, devlelopmentally. After that, I guess it is up to the health visitors and the schools. If they are at a school nursery/reception wont it be picked up then if they are struggling to keep up? then wont they hold them back a year?

By the way, Im not talking about premies with ongoing problems that have been noted early on. Just about the straightforward ones.

EyeoftheStorm Sun 29-Apr-12 15:48:09

But surely this thread is about the double whammy of being premature and being the youngest in the class.

They're all individuals, but surely if you could ameliorate those disadvantages if it was needed then you would like the choice.

OK, a couple of scenarios.

EDD by LMP is 1 Sept, EDD by dating scan, and documented in maternity notes is 31 Aug. Child is born prematurely. Law has been changed to allow flexibility as per petition. Parents presumabley have to go by documented EDD of 31 Aug...but they now start a petition to allow EDD to be calculated by LMP....thus 1 example of subjectivity. Also works in that the definition of premature is less than 37 weeks gestation. What about those that are born 36-38w gestation but the EDD was inaccurate, and should therefore be eligible for flexible admissions or not?

Child A is born prematurely on 30 Aug, EDD was 30 Oct. Shows a documented developmental delay of 6 months.
Child B is born at full term on 30 Aug. Shows a documented developmental delay of 6 months. Why should child A be allowed to start school a year later but child B not?
Children can have developmental delays for all sorts of reasons, and (I strongly suspect) that the prevelance of pre-school developmental delays is higher in those born prem and also the rate of detection is also higher as a result of increased vigilance and screening in this group.
All children develop at different rate. Should childen start school on 365 different days of the year to take this into account?

Corrected age is IME (at least 9years ago) only applied up to the age of 2 years, and then the mathematical formula used dependent on the situation/ healthcare professional. It is on these grounds irrelevant by the time a child starts/is due to start school. Should we extended it further and say to a 17yo they can't start driving lessons because they were 3m premature and need to wait until 3m after their birthday?

In any case the law only requires a child to start school from the term in which they turn 5, and could be used to provide flexibility in admissions. I don't see why valuable commons time should be wasted debating an issue for which there is already provision which could acheive goal of ensuring that children are developmentally ready for school (if you exclude the agenda that some parents have to avoid their child being the youngest in the year).

All in all - I think there are other important issues which could be debated relating to problems encountered by families with premature children - for example flexible maternity rights to compensate for the weeks/months of maternity leave which could be percieved as 'wasted' before their LO is discharged from hospital.

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 16:15:12

I agree with everything you say haunted. I thought it was only up to the age of two they are followed unless there are problems. I dont know of any mum myself who isnt dying to get their lo off to school asap smile.

bronze Sun 29-Apr-12 16:22:48

Really well I'm not desperate to send my ds3 to school so now you know one

EyeoftheStorm Sun 29-Apr-12 16:25:03

But then you would exercise your choice to send them to school.

I feel DS2 and I have been robbed of a whole year through circumstances beyond our control. He'll be fine and I'll be fine, but I'd bite the hand off someone who offered me a chance to have that year back.

EyeoftheStorm Sun 29-Apr-12 16:26:06

x-post bronze wink

bronze Sun 29-Apr-12 16:40:10

Agree eye. After all we lost enough time dealing with hospitals. Those early years are so precious. I would have loved to have had that extra year with dd and for her to have been able to catch up even more before piling extra pressure on.

They might get signed off at two years doesn't mean they are where they would have been if they hadn't been born (in Dds case 3) months early.

HalleLouja Sun 29-Apr-12 17:10:06

If they do this for premmie babies with developmental delays then surely they should do it for other children with developmental issues. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

BrightnessFalls Sun 29-Apr-12 17:52:24

Exactly. It should be for all children.

Not all children get developmental check ups with paediatric consultants at least twice in the first couple of years, do they?. So, getting signed off at two should be something to celebrate? Surely they wouldnt get signed off at two if there were potential problems or, they would get a referral to the community? and then they would be in the system. If they are given the thumbs up then, why would you want them to start school a year later?

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


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.

Kewcumber Sun 29-Apr-12 20:34:57

"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" but that isn;t true is it? How quickly they catch yup depends not only on the child and number/degree of problems but also how premmie they were.

In amercian I beleive they divide premmies by size and research shows that the category "extremely tiny premmie" which is less than a kilo at birth can take up to 6 years to catch up.

My DS was a sub-kilo 26 week premmie and he certainly didn't meet all of his age appropriate developmental targets until he was four. He is an November baby so starting school wasn't a big problem for him.

Interestingly in YR 1 they are setting targets which are birth term related (I assume this is a national thing) so Autumn birthday children are expected to reach a higher standard than Spring or Summer term. If the school system expects there to be a difference based on birthdate then surely on average there is!

I can't even say that the extra months he was out of the womb give him a head start over children born on his due date because he spent those 3 months in hospital with little/no one to one care.

I think any child who isn't at an age appropriate stage should be allowed to defer into the following year on teh basis of specialist professional opinion. I don;t see why anyone should object to that - there's hardly going to be an avalanche of people wanting their child to defer is there?

hazeyjane Sun 29-Apr-12 20:47:40

Libelulle - I should have pointed out, my ds was born term (well 39 weeks), and has additional health problems (undergoing testing for genetic conditions), which is why I think that delayed entry should be considered for other children as well as those born prematurely.

"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." - I understand why you would feel that, Fullbeam, but wouldn't it be better to judge it by case - so that a child is gven a school start date that is more appropriate for their developmental age.

misslinnet Sun 29-Apr-12 23:01:29

I appreciate that a lot of premature babies have caught up with full-term peers by the time they start school, but as EyeoftheStorm says, it's about the "double whammy of being premature and being the youngest in the class".

I know of plenty of exceptions to this myself, but statistically August born babies do less well at school than autumn born babies, and premature babies are more likely to have problems at school than full term babies.

It's too early for me to tell if DS will have any problems, but if he does have developmental delays I can't help but think it would compound the problem if he has to start school based on his actual August birthdate rather than his expected end of September due date.
I feel it would be good to know that we had the option of keeping DS back a year if we felt he wasn't ready, without having to get evidence from educational psychologists and fight with the LEA.

Having said that, those who've said that there should be more flexibility overall have a fair point.

FullBeam Sun 29-Apr-12 23:17:38

That's an interesting idea, hazeyjane and it makes absolute sense to me. Some children would definitely benefit from a more flexible approach to school start dates for a variety of reasons. The system we have at the moment is very rigid and forces some parents to send their children to school when they are not really ready.

The petition about premature babies has a simplicity to it which would make it easy to implement - simply take the due date to calculate the school starting date. But your ds' case seems more complex. I can see that you might have a tough job persuading the LA that your ds may need to start school later than his peers. And as you said upthread, you really don't need another fight!

libelulle Mon 30-Apr-12 00:39:58

Hazey - absolutely, I think there should be flexibility for everyone; no-one should have to fight for this. But I'm not sure objecting specifically to a petition about prem babies getting this right is particularly helpful. If I read a petition saying 'children with X syndrome who are often 1-2 years delayed developmentally should have the right to delay school entry', I'd say yep, absolutely, right on! Not 'oh well why should they get special treatment', which is the tone from some on here.

Brightness - if you give birth to a pre-27 weeker baby, you will get given some pretty bleak statistics by doctors. You can choose to ignore them, but you'll certainly have been given them. It doesn't matter how well your baby does in hospital - nothing can replace an extra three months in the womb! My DS was extremely lucky and did spectacularly well, relatively speaking; he was home a month before his due date. But nevertheless, the medical advice is consistent in saying that we really can't expect him to escape entirely unscathed, because that will be the case for only a tiny minority of babies born that early. Obviously people can choose to cope with NICU whichever way they think best - I had my head down too - but all the same, hearing someone who has spent months in NICU say 'prematurity isn't particularly associated with developmental delay' is quite shocking to me.

hazeyjane Mon 30-Apr-12 05:41:41

Well yes, but if a child that ds was due to start school with was able to offset by a year because of their prematurity (whether there was a delay or not), I'm afraid I would be asking why this rule should apply to them and not ds. Ds has to undergo a Schedule of Growing Skills every 6 months and a Ruth Griffiths assessment annually, which assesses where he is developmentally. Maybe if this could be done with children where there was a concern before primary application then that could be the basis of offsetting a year, rather than something which actually may be quite arbitrary (ie a babies actual due date in relation to the accepted date for school start)

LeBFG Mon 30-Apr-12 08:52:58

Seems to me the debate is about more flexibility for when children start school. I think this is why so many people are posting about their premmies to say how they were just fine i.e. there is a lot of variation in the group labelled 'premature babies'. I suspect lots of parents, like me, want their DC's to go into year groups of their own age - to show they came through the trauma of prematurity and now everything's fine.

I'm wondering : Do parents really find schools difficult about starting children with special needs a year later? In my day, they split our class and moved the more advanced into the year above - I'm sure there is plenty of flexibility in the system as it is. Why would a special bill need to be passed?

hazeyjane Mon 30-Apr-12 09:42:33

I don't think it is that straightforward, I know there are often threads in SN about how to get help in delaying a year, without the child having to go straight in at year1 and therefore miss the reception year.

This is my last post here...

I do acknowledge that premmies have developmental delays.
I state that many premmies have caught up to be on the normal developmental spectrum by the age of 2, and most by the time they go to school. They may be towards the bottom of that development spectrum (but in my direct and indirect experience I don't think that is necessarily the case), but they are still in that 'normal' spectrum. My argument, once again, is that it

Those that start to show learning difficulties once they have started school, would imo (as a trainee teacher) still show those learning difficulties a year later as they tend to be triggered/diagnosed when a child reaches a particular learning stage not age. As a result starting a year later won't stop them being diagnosed with that learning difficulty, just delay it.

There will a number of (typically) very premature children that have underlying disabilities as cerebal palsy, which have their own distinct developmental challenges. In this case the child should be treated the same as any other child with that disability.

I do think there are other things that parents of premmies could campaign for - flexibility to maternity rights, grants to fund the increased expense associated with the first couple of months (travelling costs/extortionate price of tiny nappies/clothes etc.), but I really don't see the value of this to a premmie child - its just about wrapping them up in cotton wool a bit longer (and tbh the only child I would say struggled to adapt to school more than his peers was one whose parents had wrapped him up in cotton wool and had not provided him with pre-school/playgroup opportunities to help him develop the confidence to socialise with a large group).

LeBFG Mon 30-Apr-12 09:48:25

Here, here haunted

bronze Mon 30-Apr-12 09:54:10

Just wrote a long post but can't be arsed

Just going to go and cry and feel like a shit parent again for something that I was finally beginning to not blame myself for. Cotton wool FFs

BrightnessFalls Mon 30-Apr-12 10:18:32

Bronze, do you belong to any support groups? Would it help to get intouch with Bliss or anyone? For you to talk over your guilty feelings? Did they not offer this through your NICU? You can't go through life feeling guilty. Did they explain why you went into early labour?

bronze Mon 30-Apr-12 10:21:04

I have had therapy and am on bliss
I am fine until someone comes along places the blame at my feet again

I know what happened, I miscarried dds twin

hazeyjane Mon 30-Apr-12 10:21:31

bronze, I hope nothing I posted has made you feel bad. I don't agree with the comment about wrapping up in cotton wool, it has no place here and you should dismiss it from your mind - everyone treats their children differently.

It sounds as though you have done everything you can within the system to support your dd, I hope things work out ok at school.

From what you say the 2 year check is not a satisfactory way of discharging children from paed's care, I know my friend who had a baby at 28 weeks was told they could get back in contact with their consultant directly, if they had any concerns developmentally, is this not standard?

I just think that flexibility in school start age, should apply to a wider degree than children who born prematurely.

hazeyjane Mon 30-Apr-12 10:24:13

Sorry i cross posted - I really don't think anyone is laying the blame at your feet. I understand that feeling of guilt, I have had it ever since ds was born, and it really can eat away at you - even when you think it as gone. I think talking to someone sounds like it may be helpful.

hazeyjane Mon 30-Apr-12 10:28:46

sorry, was posting when distracted, I've just seen you say you had therapy - sorry.

FullBeam Mon 30-Apr-12 11:23:13

tbh the only child I would say struggled to adapt to school more than his peers was one whose parents had wrapped him up in cotton wool and had not provided him with pre-school/playgroup opportunities to help him develop the confidence to socialise with a large group

What a horrible and insensitive post. And what a sweeping and ill informed generalisation. As a trainee teacher, HLH, exactly how many prem children have you taught?

Bronze, I have complete sympathy and often feel as you have described. It has got better for me as the years have gone on and I hope it will for you too. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Tbh - I don't know how many premmies I have taught...because it is not recorded (and to be fair I am secondary - it may well be recorded in early primary if parents report it to school).

I find it hard to see where that in that quote was a generalisation as I specifically referred to 1 child, whom I knew personally as a baby so know that his parents kept him in relative isolation for fear of him having a weak immune system.

I kept my own premmies behind closed doors for the first couple of years - for the same reason. The thought of bronchiolitis petrified me. For me that was the right thing to do in the first couple of years.

crazymum53 Mon 30-Apr-12 14:30:29

The posters may wish to read the following link Prem Babies struggle at School. This research suggests that it is only really a problem for VERY prem babies i.e. less than 26 weeks gestation or under 1 kg birth weight. 34 weeks gestation would not be within this category.
Basically I agree with the posters that there does need to be more flexibility in starting school for all children with developmental problems and having an admissions criteria that favours premature children may be counter-productive.
There is also a section on the Bliss website with information about deferring entry for Summer born prems.

I have reflected on the cotton wool comment I made earlier - and would like to appologise to those offended and clarify what I actually meant.

I was trying to suggest that there is a link between children who don't attend playschool/nursery and those that struggle to adapt to the school environment and routine. I stand by that as a generalisation but accept that there will always be exceptions.

I was trying to suggest that the likely cause of a specific boy I know failing to adapt to the school environment was not his prematurity, but his parents desire to protect him from 'germs' by keeping him away from social interactions. All other prems I have known, of various gestational, have adapted to school life in line with their non-prem peers (which of course means some adapted better than others because ALL children are different).

Incidently - the little boy I refer to is now in year 3. He enjoys school, and has some.good friends but his parents are still (imo) too overprotective, e.g. they won't let him bday parties incase he breaks a bone and won't heal (but admits there is no medical reason to think he would be more likely to break a bone). They even tried to stop him playing in a particular area of the playground because it was.too dangerous for him.

I was not trying to say parents of prems always wrap their dcs in cotton wool (although admit to doing so myself.for first couple of years).

I did read the article, it has some interesting stats (but as has already been said only relates to pre-26wkers and authors admit not relevant to post 26wkers). As I have said before, delayed schooling won't prevent the learning difficulties imo, just delay the diagnosis. As a result I don't think that increased prevalence of SEN (amongst a limited subset of prema) supports an argument for delayed schooling.

crazymum53 Mon 30-Apr-12 16:54:20

Also see this article for evidence across a wider range of gestations Do Premature Babies do Less Well at School.
The best practice is for children who are born prematurely to be given a pre-school assessment of their "Readiness for School". This is done in Bristol where I live (probably as a result of this research) and I have also found another Oxford based article with similar findings.
However I do have to say that the prospects for children born prematurely do seem to be improving all the time, when my dd started the school in 2005, the group with most problems was pre-28 weeks and now it's pre-26 weeks!

EyeoftheStorm Mon 30-Apr-12 17:06:56

That's an interesting article, Crazymum, and nice to know that the difference in general is so small. Still significant for those children who are doing less well due to their prematurity.

I like the sound of the 'readiness for school' assessment. Does this take into account things like being dry, social skills etc.?

Tigerlily49 Mon 30-Apr-12 23:15:33

DD2 came out of the womb on 27th August at 23 weeks. Her eyes were fused shut, ears just flaps as the cartilage had not yet grown. She also had no nipples. The only thing keeping her alive was a ventilator. In fact she didn't take her first breath without the vent until November. Without it she would have died and legally we were within our rights to have let her die at birth. She wasn't due until Christmas time and had she been overdue she could well have been born in January!
It simply makes no sense that she would have to join "peers" at school who almost without exception were breathing, feeding, growing and developing for at least four months before her and in some cases for a full 16 months more than her. At birth her development was in line with her gestation. Her development now, amazingly enough, is completely in line with her corrected age (which we were informed by her consultant would be relevant until at least the age of six). She has not and will never magically "catch up" with those children born at term on the same day as her and why should she? Coming up to age 3 she shows no signs of any sn and does not require special treatment, just to be treated the same way as any other child who was 660g, at 23 weeks gestation and in all other respects physically the same as her on 27th August, except all those fortunate souls were sitting in a womb. In my opinion there needs to be a mechanism to base school entry on due date, in particular for extremely premature infants.
Luckily for dd2, we had always intended for her and her sister to be educated in the independent sector and interestingly enough, in every case schools have either told us or agreed with us that the school year should be determined by her due date. Such a shame that all children in her situation don't have the same option.

libelulle Tue 01-May-12 01:02:28

really excellent post tigerlily and you say much better than I could why deferred admission for prems born in the 'wrong' school year makes so much sense.

By the by, I found watching my son's ears develop from simple flaps into proper newborn ears one of the few amazing and wondrous elements in the nightmare that is extremely premature birth!

FullBeam Tue 01-May-12 08:28:24

Great post Tigerlilly.

hazeyjane Tue 01-May-12 08:55:01

Ok I realise I have no place here, so I am going to leave the thread alone now, but it touched a nerve with me because I am trying to work out the best place for ds to go to nursery (he has to go because it should help with his development), and this will affect his preschool placement and we are also investigating primary school-the whole thing makes me feel sick. He has just started crawling, he has no speech, he is constantly tired, he still eats purees (swallowing issues), we are waiting for a walker to be issued by occupational therapy which should mean he will be walking with a walker by 2, he can't be left with anyone but me or dh as he has huge separation anxiety. He is making progress, but it is slow and require a lot of input from dh and I. I can't imagine him being ready for school in 2 years time.

I think the date of start in relation to actual or corrected age is such an arbitrary way to decide whether a child is ready to start school, but basing it on developmental age for certain children would probably be a logistical nightmare, so I guess at least changing the rules to give some choice to children born prematurely may be a step in the right direction. I guess I should start my own petition.

libelulle Tue 01-May-12 10:08:57

I'm sorry hazey, that sounds tough. In a way, maybe the prem baby start issue is actually about kids without additional learning needs, but who were just born at the wrong time - like tigerlily's dd. Those with children with an actual learning disability need proper support in place throughout their school days, whenever they start, and as some have said, it's not as clear-cut whether delaying a year will necessarily help matters.

With prems, it seems that the disadvantage in some cases is more straightforward, in that they are effectively just too young for their year - like an august-born only more so. What I was actually told by our consultant was that prem babies don't really ever 'catch up' as such - the difference just becomes less noticeable with time. In that sense, it is not inequitable for prems to be simply 'restored' to where they would have been if they'd been born on time, so that there is not 16 months gap between them and the oldest in their class. It doesn't apply to those prems born between say september and may, because they are still effectively within the normal range for that year.

FullBeam Tue 01-May-12 16:43:31

Hazey, I'm sorry you're having such a worrying time. I hope you can find the support and help you need for your ds.

Lotstoshare Fri 28-Sep-12 02:11:58

My son wasn't prem but it was so obvious that he had DD because at three he wasn't speaking and the Speech Therapist found that he was confused by similar sounds in others speech though he wasn't hearing impaired. He also couldn't physically mouth the sounds. We had to teach him where to put his tongue and teeth to make sounds. Then repeat, repeat, repeat. Other milestones weren't reached without teaching him. He was clumsy and when close to five was still like a three year old. Parallel play, playing by repeatedly arranging things, eating things that were not food. I gave my permission for an assessment to be done by a learning and behavior expert who came to the Playcentre before he started school so that by the day he started there was a teacher aid in place. He also needed a minder at school during the lunch hour. My family were disgusted when I told them as they thought I was molly coddling. However he has always loved people and has never had separation anxiety. I have never been concerned and have always believed he could catch up with assistance. However I would be in denial if I said there was never a problem. I have always known there was a problem right from birth. All you can do is focus on the positive.

CouthyMowWearingOrange Fri 28-Sep-12 07:23:29

My DD was a 34 weeker. She has development delay. When she started YR, she was a full two years behind her peers.

This rule wouldn't have helped her though - she was born early March instead of mid April.

As it happens, I kept her in Nursery until she reached compulsory school age. Which meant that she started after the Easter holidays. She still wasn't ready.

Even now, at 14y6m, I can see that she would be better suited to being in the year below. It would make such a difference to her, and I think it would have given her a chance of getting decent GCSE results, rather than scraping F's.

My DS2 was born at 40+2. He also has a 2 year development delay. He has the same issues, but with a November birthday, is one of the older DC's in the year. He is currently in Y4. He would be much more suited to Y3. Socially as well as academically.

He will be 9yo in a few weeks. He still watches Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Justin's house. He can't follow the conversations about the latest films because he just doesn't get the themes being explored.

If they want to give parents of preemies with development delays the option to delay school by a year, then they have to give parents of full term DC's with development delays the same option.

I would have chewed the LA's arms off for the chance for my DD and my DS2 to be in the year below. I tried for ages.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now