Proud To Be A Parent

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Freddie McGill @FreddieWM Reception school


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
Read more about @TeacherToolkit

Did you know, that 1 in 9 children are born premature here in the UK and as a result 1 in 4 are likely to have SEN?

Last week my son attended reception class at primary school for the very first time. It was a wonderful moment for me as a parent and a notable landmark for me as a parenting-teacher. Skip to the footer for photos.

Did you know, that an EPIcure study found that:

“… at the age of six, only 22 per cent of children born before 28 weeks, had survived with no disability. When these children reached 11, there were four major developmental issues. More than 60 per cent had developed some form of attention deficit disorder …”

A Bag of Sugar:

For those of you who do not know, my son was born 3 months premature, weighing just 1lb 9ozs (730 grams). He had less than a 50% survival chance and was recognised in neonatal with extreme prematurity and extreme low birth weight. Freddie fitted into the palm of one of my hands and my wedding ring slipped easily over his hand and reached to the top of his upper-arm/shoulder!

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Life in Neonatal:

Here are some of the early conditions my son endured throughout the first three months of his life; we were in hospital for 82 days, 85 miles from home!

  1. Prematurity 28+2 weeks
  2. Chronic Lung Disease
  3. Inguinal right Hernia
  4. Left testicle Hydrocele
  5. Suspected Meningitis – three wks of antibiotics – and unaware of any brain damage this may cause!
  6. Conjugated Jaundice
  7. Patency of the Arterial Duct (PDA)
  8. x3 doses to close the duct
  9. Pre-birth steroids for lungs
  10. Gastro-esophageal reflux
  11. Metabolic bone disease –
  12. Intubated
  13. CPAP ventilation and High Frequency Oscillation Ventilation x2
  14. Renal tract ultrasound scan
  15. Abdominal ultrasound scan
  16. Cranial ultrasound scan
  17. Retinal examinations
  18. Nasogastric tube insertion
  19. x4 blood transfusions
  20. countless medications and vitamins e.g. morphine.

Problems at discharge:

  1. On oxygen support (for 3 further months)
  2. Conjugated hyperbilirubinamia
  3. Osteopenia of prematurity
  4. GORD
  5. Ingunial right hernia.

“In the average UK classroom, there will be four children who have been born prematurely. Many of these students have emerging special needs that are different to what teachers have known before”, says Professor Barry Carpenter.

The hospital stories, doctors advice and warnings I could tell you … we’d be here for days.

Back To School:

From the moment my son was born, all I ever wanted was for my son to be ‘normal.’ I can now count my lucky stars that he is just that. From hourly blood test, to weekly eye tests and monthly hearing tests, we were regular visitors to hospitals across the region throughout 2011-2013. It was difficult to predict any type of normality a few years ago. And now, I’m fortunate enough, despite a flawed (and in desperate need of an overhaul) admissions process, to be able to send my son to one of the many good local schools in our area.

Preparing for this moment has been an emotional rollercoaster. At the start of the summer holidays, we visited our local uniform shop to spend a small fortune! The countless garments required are unthinkable. It has also been very eye-opening to experience this side of education from a parenting perspective. The rules, the advice and guidance shared in letters has been welcomed, but also another thing to quickly understand. Thankfully, the school has made it very easy for working parents to be part of the ‘settling in’ period without the need for too much time off from work.

There were tears (from mum too), new names to learn and lots and lots of playing. I look forward to seeing how my son get’s on at school and developing into a strong (and normal) young man. I will save the teacher-opinions for another day …

Here are a few images of my (miracle) son on his first day at school.

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Freddie’s Story:

You can read Freddie’s premature baby blog here

It costs £3,500 a day to look after a baby in Neo-Natal Intensive Care; Freddie was in hospital for 82 days! That’s a total of £287,000! (6 weeks in Intensive Care and 6 weeks in Special Care). We wish to raise money for Bliss Charity, by making our friends aware of his story; to raise awareness of how common and traumatic, premature births are. Using our experience, we want to help other parents … Freddie’s blog does just this and has had over 250,000 readers in 4 years. We have helped produce parent guides and videos for new parents because we had nothing when we were in hospital. If everybody who read Freddie’s story paid just £1, that would be an amazing unthinkable achievement to save the lives of so many young children born too soon.

If you would like to make a small donation, you can do so, by visiting or text “FRED82 £5” to 70070. We are 77% of the way towards paying for (just) 1 days care in hospital. If you need motivation, there are over 700 photos of Freddie’s life, here.

Click the image to donate and help small miracles like my son, get to normal schools up and down the country! Thank you.

Freddie McGill Just Giving Bliss Charity

Further Reading:

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