Transience / Transient populations



Transience often relates to transient populations - populations that are on the move - for example nomadic or refugee populations. In relation to schools it refers to individual pupils who arrive or leave usually outside the normal admissions or leaving times and who are members of transient populations which may include travellers, forces families immigrants, economic migrants or refugees




In some parts of the UK, school populations are marked by a high degree of transience. There are a variety of causes, e.g. areas associated with recent immigration or arrival of refugees, areas with traditional and new age travelling populations, those schools near military bases, and areas with significant economic migration associated with seasonal work.

There is no suggestion that transience, in itself, leads to problems in behaviour, but where it is associated with other significant factors of deprivation, any attendant behaviour problems are likely to be exacerbated.


Relevance for Teachers


Pupils who experience frequent relocation, at non-standard times of the year will inevitably miss out on much of the learning of procedures that make successful learning possible.

A common reaction to not being clear of procedures, demands etc. is to engage in displacement activity that can be interpreted as misbehaviour.

These pupils need support in learning about processes, setting goals, identifying gaps and developing a positive self-view that enables them to be resilient in the face of the difficulties posed by relocation. There has been concerted activity at national level to identify the needs of transient pupils, and equip them with the wherewithal to settle and become productive students, avoiding the necessity to indulge in displacement behaviour

A case study of a school in a high transient population area will illustrate some of the whole school actions which can be taken to promote positive learning behaviour with transient children.

Beacon Hill High School is a 715 pupil, 11-16 mixed gender school in an urban setting, serving a wide area of Blackpool.

Students join the school with lower-than-average ability and a high proportion live in areas of social and economic disadvantage. The school has a high proportion of pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. The school has an integration centre for transient pupils, approximately 100 per year, who often arrive with a poor history of school attendance and attainment and unresolved complex needs. The school is eligible for Physical Activity (PA) status and has higher than the national average absence.

Actions taken by the school

  • Whole-staff restructure in response to workforce remodelling. Creation of three new posts: pastoral manager, (non-teacher) achievement coordinator, and behaviour and attendance leader. All line-managed by Deputy Head Inclusion.
  • Development of Inclusion Unit within school.
  • Four areas of provision identified: nurture, seclusion, short-term respite from lessons, part-time programmes for challenging Key Stage 4 pupils.
  • Pupils' needs assessed and identified through use of Pastoral Support Programmes and Parenting Contracts.
  • Strategic use of Children's Services out-of-school provision for respite and reintegration.
  • Embracing fully the Every Child Matters (ECM) agenda and 'Working Together' with all partner agencies.
  • Targeted use of the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) to build supportive frameworks around pupils.
  • Greater personalisation of the curriculum, particularly Key Stage 4.
  • Pupils are increasingly consulted about their learning preferences, contributing to the way leaders and managers monitor and determine the impact of the school's work.
  • Greater emphasis on rewards and praise.
  • Behaviour and attendance leader surveyed all staff for a list of concerns about behaviour and then for effective strategies, matching strategies to concerns for staff to implement as a whole-school initiative.


Indicative reading


Tyler, C. 2005 Traveller Education: Accounts of Good Practice London Trentham

 Jones, C. and Rutter, J. Refugee Education: mapping the field London Trentham


transience, transient populations, migrant, refugee, asylum seekers

Find out more

  • TeacherNet  For details of the DfES programme on pupil mobility and associated publications go to the following link
  • Standards website  Pages for Gypsy Roma and Traveller achievement