On average a primary school class will have four children born preterm, and many of them will have reduced cognitive capacity, social and behavioural difficulties and learning disabilities. Up to 70% of very preterm babies will require special educational needs services. But according to the National Forum for Neuroscience in Special Education, reported in an article in the latest issue of Children & Young People Now, few teachers are aware of this.
Barry Carpenter, visiting professor at the University of Worcester, is studying the educational outcomes and needs of preterm children in special schools, in partnership with SSAT and premature babies charity Bliss. He says addressing the educational needs of preterm children has become more urgent as advances in medical science have boosted survival rates – from 23% in 2000 to 63% today.
Vision is one sensory area that tends to get damaged. So teachers need to be aware that these children’s visual processing – the ability to read and decode – can be delayed, as can their language development.
SSAT will share the findings from Barry Carpenter’s studies in special schools for the benefit of mainstream schools, for example with a families workshop to share the strategies schools can use to meet this group’s needs. Stay informed by signing up to SSAT’s SEN e-forum.