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Bliss advent calendar day 11

Starting school

Welcome to day 11 of the Bliss Advent Calendar 2015. We will open a new window each day revealing stories and videos relating to special care babies and the work that Bliss does. Each day is kindly sponsored by a corporate partner, to help raise even more towards improving the outcomes for every baby born premature or sick in the UK.

We would love you to share this on your social networks using #Blissadvent.

Bliss schools campaign

As a result of being born prematurely, some children might benefit from starting reception year a little later. Bliss believes that there needs to be more flexibility in the school admissions process to allow this.

While there is no legal reason why children can’t start reception year at five rather than four, many schools and admissions authorities are reluctant to allow children to start school at this age. This is why we have been campaigning for many years for greater flexibility, particularly for children who are born premature in the summer months and have fallen into a different school year group as a result.

Following campaigning from Bliss and parents, a revised English School Admissions Code was released in December 2014, alongside updated guidance, Advice on the Admission of Summer Born Children

These documents give greater clarity to Admissions Authorities that prematurity is a factor which they should be taking into account when deciding if delaying a child’s start in reception till they are five is in their best interests.

While there is still a long way to go, this is a step in the right direction. You can read more about the changes, and what else we would like to see improved here

Recent success

We have also had recent success with our campaigning. Nick Gibb, Minister for School Reform, has recently released an open letter stating that it is his intention to make further changes to the School Admissions Code so summer-born children can automatically start reception at five years old, and remain with that year group throughout school.

This follows a debate, led by Stephen Hammond MP the evening before where the Minister also committed to considering allowing due date, rather than birth date, to be used when making admissions decisions. A consultation is to follow shortly.

We are delighted with this news, but will be responding to the consultation to make sure the needs of premature born children are properly protected. Find out more about the changes, and our reaction here

To read more about our schools campaign and see how you can get involved, please visit

This Christmas help Bliss to make sure every baby born premature or sick has the best chance of survival by donating now


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