The issue of admissions, summer-born children and premature babies are subjects very close to my heart. After a month of visiting potential nursery schools for my son @FreddieWM, the current model for school admissions is at the forefront of my mind.
Of the 8.2 million pupils attending 24,372 schools in England, 1 in 9 babies are born premature in the UK, so I will assume that there are a vast number parents who will find the blog post interesting. Of those babies born too soon, many will be born too early and according to the current school admissions code will not be designed to their advantage.
Working at both ends of the spectrum, as a teacher and as a parent, I can safely say, the process of school admissions is flawed. As my son grows older, I look forward to challenging the Department for Education on this, via my blog, as I gather evidence and experience from a parental perspective.
Meet my son Freddie, born at 28+2 weeks gestation.
Now take a look at how he is doing below and in his blog:
My son was born on 21st May 2011. He wasn’t due to be born until 11th August 2011 (at the height of the summer riots) potentially making him an early summer born child. Despite being born 3 months earlier, his growth throughout year one remained in the 4th lowest percentile.
About the school admissions code:
- The new draft school admissions puts into legislation the Guidance for Summer Borns 2013. This means schools will be legally obliged to consider applications for delaying school entry.
- The draft code recognises prematurity as a reason why a parent may want to delay their child’s entry, and Bliss welcomes this recognition.
- The new code will apply to applications made for school entry in 2016/2017. Until then the current school admissions code, which does not recognise prematurity, is in effect. How discriminating!
- These changes only apply to England. The devolved nations each have their own admissions processes.
- Bliss believes that, as a result of their prematurity, some children will benefit from starting school a little later. They (and I) believe there should be flexibility in the school admissions process to allow this.
- This flexibility will benefit mostly those children who were born in the summer, when their due date was in the autumn. This means they start school a full year earlier than they would have done had they been born term.
- Bliss is campaigning for this greater flexibility, and will be responding to the consultation on the draft code, with a response shaped by parent’s experiences and views.
- Starting school at an appropriate time can make a big difference to a child and their educational outcomes.
Support for parents:
- Bliss has developed a fact-sheet for parents in England which gives advice about:
- How to apply for a delay
- How to tell if a delay would be suitable for their child
- Whether their child is eligible
This can be found on our website here.
Bliss is the UK charity working to provide the best possible care and support for all premature and sick babies and their families. They support parents, they work directly with doctors and nurses and they campaign to ensure the needs of babies and their families are always heard.
- Bliss have written a supporting letter which parents can use in their application pack which is here.
- Parents can look at their webpages for more information about the campaign, and for help and advice here.
- If parents need more information, I recommend they call the Bliss helpline on 0500 618140. The helpline is open Monday to Friday 9am-9pm
The Nuffield Foundation shares a report published by The Institute of Fiscal Studies. This report has highlighted large differences in educational attainment between children born at the start and end of the academic year.