Strategies to support gypsy and traveller students
A recent report released by the government (2012) has highlighted the continuing concern around the need for improvement of social mobility for gypsies and travellers. The report states 28 commitments made by the government across the mainstream services, six of which are held by the Department for Education.
Commitment six states that the DfE intends to use high-performing primary and secondary schools as examples of good practice and will publish brief case studies about them to showcase to other schools. There have been many excellent publications produced in education aiming to increase the support and inclusion of gypsies and travellers. Together with the publications already in print and with the commitments made by the DfE, it is possible for more schools to take on advice and support for gypsies and travellers.
When reviewing your current policies and the ways in which gypsies and travellers are supported in your school, it may be helpful to look at the following key areas. These recommendations are made with the intention of creating a supportive and welcoming environment using the common principles of position behaviour management.
|Common characteristics of gypsy and traveller students/families||Recommended response by schools|
|Parents/carers might be apprehensive and nervous when dealing with schools because they either have had little experience of schooling themselves or have had negative experiences during their time in education.||
|Parents’/carers’ lack of education may mean that they are illiterate.||
|Travellers are often subjected to racism and bullying.||
|Those with little experience of school life may struggle initially with the traditional routine of the class (e.g. sitting cross-legged on the carpet, sitting listening for long period of time, etc).||
|Due to the nature of the lifestyle of travellers, they may have poor attendance.||
|Corporal punishment is often a tool for behaviour management in a traveller family.||
|Despite the fact that traveller students speak English, it is important to recognise that the style and construction of their speech can cause communication difficulties. A student’s accent, dialect and delivery can lead to misinterpretations. In addition, many traveller families raise their children to have an equal voice in the household, causing them to speak in other settings in ways teachers may find too familiar.||
|Often primary schools are seen in a better light than secondary schools because travellers view the large institutions as huge places where there is less nurturing taking place and more opportunities for bullying to flourish.||
- Department for Communities and Local Government (2012). Progress report by the ministerial working group on tackling inequalities experienced by Gypsies and Travellers. Crown Copyright
- Department for Education (2010). Improving the outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils: final report. Crown Copyright
- Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month June 2012 Postcard Competition
- O’Hanlon, C., Holmes, P. (2004) The Education of Gypsy and Traveller Children: Towards Inclusion and Educational Achievement. Trentham Books
- Ofsted (2003). Provision and support for Traveller pupils. Crown Copyright
- Milton Keynes Traveller Education Service (2004). Traveller Boys: Strategies for Success in School.