What the resource is.
This is a 3 minute video clip which captures some of the views, experiences and aspirations of seven young Travellers of Irish heritage (Martin, Stacey, Bridget, Dougie, Melissa, Bridget and Darren) in a lively and entertaining interview that they filmed themselves as part of the DVD entitled 'Travellers and Gypsies:Groups and Issues' produced by The Catholic Children's Society (2005).
All the children in the video are residents of the Latimer Road Caravan Site in west London. This site is known as the 'Westway Site' as it lies directly beneath the Westway - a busy stretch of elevated dual carriageway leading out of London. The film contains images of the site which exemplify the inadequate accommodation provided for some Gypsy and Traveller families in Britain. It also shows the children speaking in positive terms about the value of education.
The aims of the resource
The main aim of this resource is to provide a voice for Traveller children, allowing them the opportunity to share their views, ideas and experiences in relation to education, home life and their aspirations for the future. The children have been enabled to film and interview one another about issues that are important to them. A further aim of the resource is to provide teachers, student teachers/trainees who may have limited or no prior experience of working with Traveller pupils, with a glimpse into their world.
Key findings or focus
The children in the video speak in positive terms about school and education, which may in itself challenge stereotypical assumptions about the disengagement and lack of motivation generally associated with this group of pupils.
The children are articulate and confident, sometimes showing a level of maturity which can set them apart from their peers in school. It is important for teachers to appreciate that the communication styles of some Gypsy and Traveller pupils can be quite direct and this is sometimes interpreted as outspokeness.
The reality of living conditions due to grossly inadequate site provision is brought into sharp focus in the film. This has particular implications for Every Child Matters and could be used to stimulate discussion about how this initiative addresses the needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children.
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource.
The sound and visual quality of the video is not of a professional standard, since it was filmed on location by the children. Sometimes, the recording equipment, extraneous traffic noise and more than one voice speaking at a time, makes it difficult to hear all that is said. The producers of the DVD (The Catholic Children's Society) have undertaken considerable work with this community and have encouraged the participants to take ownership of the content and direction of the filming.
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors
This very short clip could be used as a stimulus for discussion around The Every Child Matters agenda or to extend student's awareness of race equality issues. Alternatively, it could be incorporated into a montage of video clips used to introduce a lecture on inclusion/equality issues. In this way, the message is reinforced that the needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils are as important as for other vulnerable groups.
The relevance to ITE students
Like other members of the settled community, many ITE students/ trainees will have limited knowledge or first- hand experience of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers and may enter their training with negative, stereotyped perceptions. This resource will encourage students and trainees to examine their attitudes, preconceptions, stereotypical assumptions and prejudices in order to ensure that every child matters, and that due regard is given to the particular circumstances of diverse groups who may be at risk of underachievement.
This resource 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. The resource has clear implications therefore for addressing Every Child Matters and Community Cohesion duties.
Dr Chris Derrington