Best Practice

The emerging new SENs of students born prematurely

In an average class, 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. Professor Barry Carpenter is leading work to help schools better sup

The survival rate of premature babies has risen sharply over the last decade.

Eighty thousand children are now born prematurely every year (and prematurely means anything before 36 weeks’ gestation). This means that in every classroom there are now four children who have been born prematurely.

Research has found, however, that 63 per cent of children born prematurely have some form of disability or SEN, and this figure is higher among children born before 28 weeks. Not only that, many have learning difficulties that have not previously been encountered.

Only last month, two studies published in the British Medical Journal said that thanks to advances in medical science, more babies are being born before 26 weeks and more are surviving. But the proportion suffering serious and developmental problems as they grow up remains largely unchanged.

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