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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

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

HauntedLittleLunatic Sun 29-Apr-12 13:20:23

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.

HauntedLittleLunatic Sun 29-Apr-12 13:45:48

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.

HauntedLittleLunatic Sun 29-Apr-12 15:53:54

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?

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