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More help in schools needed for prematurely born children

05 June 2015

A recent study by the Royal Holloway University of London has said that summer-born children are at risk of falling behind their peers academically and suffering from behavioural issues unless the curriculum is tailored to their needs. Bliss has long been campaigning for change regarding premature children, as they are particularly at risk of suffering academically.

In light of the recent evidence, our Chief Executive Caroline Davey has released the following statement:

“Bliss welcomes the attention this research brings to the development of language, social and emotional skills in the youngest school age children; and its recommendations to the Government to redevelop the curriculum so it suits the abilities and needs of all children.

“However, Bliss believes more needs to be done to specifically support children who were born prematurely. Premature born children are more likely to be affected by developmental delay – around five per cent of all infants failing Key Stage One assessments may do so because of their premature birth. This is particularly pronounced for children who have fallen into a different academic age group than the one they were due to be born into. For this group, we believe that the issues they face are different, and a significant proportion of these problems can be avoided by recognising the impact of prematurity at the point of admission. We believe there should be greater flexibility for this particular group of children to be able to delay their school start and that admissions decisions should be based on the child’s due date, rather than actual birth date.

“Research released earlier this year has also shown teachers lack understanding of how prematurity affects learning due to a chronic lack of training on the issue – this is particularly worrying because there is likely to be three children in every class born premature. Bliss believes this severely hinders how effectively the curriculum can be differentiated for this particular group of children, and that appropriate training for teachers on the effects of prematurity on learning and development should be incorporated into teacher training.”

If you would like to find out more about the Bliss schools campaign, or get involved and help make a difference, please click here.


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