Premature children could be assigned school year based on due date, Government says

Children who are born prematurely could start school a year later under plans being reviewed by the Government.

Children are currently assigned into a school year based on their birth date: Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images​

Education Minister Nick Gibb said kids born early could be assigned a school year according to their due date, rather than their actual date of birth.

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A 2013 study found that boys and girls born before 37 weeks were put at an “educational disadvantage” compared with children born at around 40 weeks.  

The analysis by the Neonatal Unit at North Bristol NHS Trust said the effect was made worse if the child was born over the summer months, meaning he or she would be placed in the older year group.

Tory MP Stephen Hammond has called for the school admissions code to be amended to allow children to be assigned a school year based on their due date.

Mr Gibb said as a “consequence” of Mr Hammond’s representation, the Government was looking at such an amendment

“We are considering whether it would be appropriate to use the due date rather than birth date of premature children to determine when they start school,” he said during Education Questions today.

Experts are not united on the effect of holding back summer-born children for a year, however. 

A study in 2015 by scientists at Warwick University found that children who missed a year of learning often performed worse in tests at the age of eight.


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