Primary teachers may find pupils who were born prematurely fare less well than their classmates, according to a new study conducted at the University of Bristol.
Researchers assessed more than 12,000 participants and found 31.5 per cent of children born before the 37th week of pregnancy had low key stage one results, compared to 21.2 per cent of those born between 37 and 42 weeks.
Moreover, 35.5 per cent of prematurely born children in the sample have special educational needs, compared to 23.3 per cent of other pupils.
Commenting on these findings, the former children's commissioner Sir Albert Aynsley warned that prematurely born pupils' educational needs are as not yet being adequately met.
He asserted: "Education experts must look at this data and argue for a change in policy so that the school entry age for children born prematurely is based on their expected due date rather than their premature date of birth."
However, a Department for Education spokesperson insisted the government has already taken steps to address this issue by allowing parents to defer their child's entry into school or request they attend part time until they reach their fifth birthday.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels