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Premature babies and school admissions

(106 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

OP’s posts: |
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...

OP’s posts: |
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.

HauntedLittleLunatic Sun 29-Apr-12 11:20:36

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

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