Premature children 'should start school in year of due date'

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Children born prematurely should be able to start reception class in the school year of their due date, the Government will be told today.

A year after schools minister Nick Gibb promised to allow premature summer-born babies to start school later, Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond will say that progress has been too slow.

The former Conservative minister said: "Parents from all over the country have contacted me about the issues they are having deferring their premature or summer-born child's start to school.

"I want to press the Government for action and to secure a change to the schools admissions code. This is... a small change that will mean a huge improvement in the lives of thousands of children."

Summer-born children are classed as being born between April and August and there have long been concerns from parents about such children starting school with other pupils who are up to a year older.

The problem is worse when a summer-born child is born before 37 weeks, with research by the University of Bristol showing prematurity has an impact on educational performance.

Academics have suggested that delaying school entry would close the attainment gap, and Mr Hammond believes youngsters would be happier and more confident and academically successful if their due date, rather than birth date, was used for school entry. His campaign is supported by premature baby charity Bliss.

Last year, schools minister Mr Gibb accepted that parents should have a right to defer summer-born children, and committed to consulting on changes. He also said he would look into using a premature child's due date for admissions purposes.

Although some local authorities changed their policy to pre-empt reforms, many others have refused to act until there is a formal change.

Πηγή: Evening Standrard