A NEWCASTLE primary school has met all three requirements to receive an award from a premature baby charity.

North Fawdon Primary School, which is part of SMART multi-academy trust, has met all points of the criteria set by The Smallest Things charity, which include:

• accessing the free PRISM e-learning to train staff

• asking parents if children were born prematurely as part of the admissions process

• requesting feedback from parents on any extra support provided

Research revealed that on average two to three children in every typical classroom have been born prematurely (before 37 weeks).

While this does not automatically mean they will have additional educational needs, it does increase the chances they will require extra support.

By becoming a Prem Aware School, the teaching staff will have a better understanding of the lasting effects of premature birth, be able to identify issues early, and provide the practical and emotional support children may need on their education journey.

Janine Collins, Deputy Head Teacher at North Fawdon Primary School, said: “The Prism awareness training raised our understanding of preterm birth, and the risk factors it can bring. It has enabled us to extend our knowledge and ensure we gain vital information about preterm birth history. We use our knowledge to recognise needs early, support individuals and their families and encourage all pupils to achieve their very best.”

Vicky Carter, parent of premature pupils at North Fawdon Primary School, said: “As a parent it is incredibly reassuring to know that a school has some in-depth knowledge on the impact of prematurity.

“The effects of severe prematurity can have such an impact on a child’s development particularly in the early stages of school and knowing that North Fawdon practitioners are skilled to provide support and strategies to support this is fundamental in my child’s journey throughout school!”

Catherine McKinnell, Member of Parliament for Newcastle North, said: “Well done to North Fawdon Primary School on this important award.

“I was delighted to visit the school and see first-hand the work that they are doing to give staff the skills and knowledge to support prematurely born children and their families.

“It is fantastic that the school has been recognised by The Smallest Things and are leading the way in the North East.

“I hope that other schools will follow North Fawdon Primary’s lead and achieve Prem Aware status.”

Catriona Ogilvy, founder of The Smallest Things, says “This is great news for families of children born prematurely who attend North Fawdon Primary School.

“Our recent survey revealed nine out of 10 parents of children born prematurely felt there was a need for more awareness and understanding in schools.

“Having trained teachers who know what to look out for and how to help, will make a big difference to children in the classroom. We hope this will inspire other schools to take this step.”