On 4 March 2015, Bliss gave evidence at a House of Commons Education Select Committee session addressing the Government’s policy on school admissions for summer-born children and starting school age. The session also looked at how premature birth can impact on children’s academic performance, and the extent to which the education system is meeting the needs of these children.
Bliss has been campaigning on this issue for a number of years, pushing for greater flexibility for children who were born premature, particularly for those children who have fallen into a different school year group as a result of being born early. While we have seen some positive changes in policy recently, with greater recognition of the issues that premature children can face in the recently revised School Admissions Code and accompanying guidance, there is still a long way to go.
Helen Kirrane, Bliss’ Campaigns and Policy Manager, highlighted to the Committee the low levels of awareness amongst education professionals and admissions authorities about the issues that children can face as a result of their early birth. She also highlighted the worrying lack of consistency in how different authorities across the country handle requests from parents of premature born children to delay their child’s school start, and that in some areas parents are being inappropriately threatened that their child will have to skip a year of schooling at a later point if they do decide to delay.
In response Nick Gibb, Minister for School Reform, was questioned on the points raised. The Minister committed to looking at the points raised by Bliss about how admissions authorities are handling parent’s request to delay, which results in children who were born premature being denied the opportunity to delay their school start in some areas.
You can find out more about the Committee’s evidence session here. If you would like more information about your options when starting your child at school please visit our support pages.