Teachers TV Travellers in education : Inclusion

 

 

What the resource is.

 

This is one of three programmes in the Teachers TV series Travellers in Education which looks at initiatives that have been introduced to tackle low attainment and attendance in Traveller children. This 15 minutes video provides teachers with information about two grant-funded educational projects that were developed to encourage schools to become more inclusive environments for Traveller children and to promote diversity across the curriculum.

 

The two projects highlighted in this programme are:

  • The Open Roads - Open Minds Project in Leeds which brought Traveller culture into the classroom through story-telling and the involvement of various talented Traveller performers and artists, and
  • the Speak Out Project in Cambridgeshire, which encouraged young Traveller pupils to share their feelings and experiences about racism and bullying and gave them a voice.

 

Both these projects have developed media resources for use in the classroom and short extracts from these are contained in the video. The video is suitable for both primary and secondary schools and features interviews with a range of project contributors including pupils, performers, writers and educationists in which issues around racism and Traveller culture are explored.

 

The aims of the resource

As a group, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children have the lowest attainment and attendance in both primary and secondary phases of education. The reasons for this are complex, but experiences of racism and social exclusion are commonly reported in the literature and are believed to be contributory factors. This programme aims to investigate the negative effects of bullying and considers the need for Traveller culture to be included in the curriculum.


Most Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities retain a strong cultural identity. Their value systems, the languages they speak, the history they share and the traditions they maintain are all integral to their social and ethnic identity but these characteristics are not widely known or understood by non-Travellers.  As a consequence, ignorance and suspicion can give rise to prejudice and racist behaviour and more needs to be done in schools to foster good relations and promote community cohesion between Traveller and non-Traveller communities.  


 

Key findings or focus

The message communicated consistently throughout the video is that greater effort is required by schools in addressing and eliminating negative stereotyping and racist bullying towards Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. In the film, young people talk about how racist name calling in school has affected them emotionally and a secondary school head teacher describes the need for schools to give these young people a voice as ‘essential work'. The programme also emphasises the need to keep contemporary Gypsy and Traveller culture alive and  illustrates effectively how awareness-raising of culture in schools can benefit all pupils as well as the wider community, for example through story telling.

 

Both projects have developed media resources for use in school. Details are provided below:

 

Open Roads - Open Minds includes a teachers' handbook, a DVD, posters, storyteller and artist portraits. The resource can be adapted and used effectively across the Curriculum  in literacy, English, drama, art, music, history, PSHE and Citizenship and across Key Stages 1 - 4. The pack costs £48.93 including p&p and is available to order from http://www.grtleeds.co.uk/

 

The Speak Out project has produced an audio CD entitled Atch Poggering Mande (Romany for ‘Stop bullying me') which involved the participation of around 60 young Travellers. The CD costs just £3 and is available from:

Cambridgeshire Race Equality & Diversity Service,
Foster Road
Trumpington
Cambridge
CB2 2NL

Tel: 01223 508700           

 

 

The quality, authority and credibility of the resource.

The programme provides an insight into the kind of innovative work that has been developed nationally in recent years by local authority Traveller Education support services (TESS), schools and other relevant stakeholders.  A key strength of this resource is the fact that many of the contributors are Travellers themselves. The story tellers that feature in the programme are known and well-respected in the field and other participants include Traveller education experts.

The programme contains references to educational initiatives associated with the former Government and these may not reflect current policy.

 

 

The implications for ITE tutors/mentors

This resource would be particularly helpful for tutors and mentors with limited knowledge or experience of Traveller culture themselves. It could usefully be incorporated into modules or sessions on inclusive education, equality and diversity, in order to reinforce the message that race equality legislation applies equally to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils and that racist behaviour towards these communities is common and unacceptable. Extracts from the resource could be used as starting points for discussion in seminars, in which trainees are encouraged to engage critically and explore their own stereotyped perceptions and attitudes.

 

The relevance to ITE students.

Like other members of the settled community, many trainees will have limited knowledge or first- hand experience of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers and may enter their training with negative, stereotyped perceptions. The resource demonstrates the prevalence of prejudice and racism towards these communities and reinforces the message that teachers and schools have a professional duty to recognise and address such perceptions and behaviour.  This programme is relevant regardless of whether or not Gypsy, Roma, Traveller pupils are known to attend placement/partner schools.

 

 

The relevance to early career teachers:

All teachers need to be aware of the longstanding and well- documented record of poor educational outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils. Research has linked their underachievement with low teacher expectations and social exclusion in school as well as with cultural influences (Derrington, 2007). The resource has clear implications therefore for addressing Every Child Matters and Community Cohesion duties.

This programme is useful for early career teachers seeking appropriate teaching and learning resources to support diversity in relation to PSHE, literacy and history.

 

 

Review by Dr Chris Derrington

 

 

Keywords

Gypsy, Traveller, racism, culture storytelling

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