For many years I have spoken about the need for teachers to be aware of children born prematurely, and the range of learning needs these children present in all classrooms in all settings at all ages and stages .

Indeed , evidence for the Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities  Research Project ( Carpenter et al 2011,;2015) showed that children born prematurely , were presenting profiles of learning need the likes of which we, as teachers , had never seen before . They were re-writing the Special Needs Registers of our schools .

The CLDD Project identified that the most secure , successful and effective pedagogical pathway for children with Complex Needs was rooted in Engagement . This concept has been expanded and developed with the current initiatives , arising for the Rochford Review , on the use of the Engagement Model for statutory summative assessment.

This will mean that we not only have new generation pedagogy for a new generation of children , but also new generation assessment . Children born pre term are at the heart of this ‘new generation’ of learners now populating all of our classrooms.

In training I always advise teachers and school leaders to ask on the admission forms of every school ( secondary included !) ” Is there anything in the birth history of this child that we need to know? “

This new resource for educational professionals, developed by Professor Samantha Johnson and her colleagues at Leicester University, now articulates through easy to access , high quality research and practice evidence , why we need a fuller and deeper understanding of how children born prematurely will learn and progress in our school system ,and what some of their learning challenges may be .

The e-learning resource can be accessed online for free here:

It was supported in its development by  Action Medical Research .

There is also a podcast with the editor of the TES about the development and evaluation of the resource and about the educational needs of preterm born children more broadly. This can be accessed here if you would like to listen:


Professor Barry Carpenter , CBE, PhD.


September 2019