What the resource is.
A set of National Strategy guidance materials to support teachers in promoting the progress and achievement of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils and in meeting their statutory duties in terms of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils are identified as a group most at risk in the education system. Attainment data shows that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils' performance is worryingly low and the gaps are not narrowing, as they are for other ethnic groups. If anything, the gaps are getting wider. However, research evidence shows that, when Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils are given the right learning environment and experiences, they can be equally as successful as pupils in any other group.
These guidance materials consist of four interrelated booklets. Each contains essential background information, illustrative case studies and points for reflection.
Booklet 1: Introduction
- The educational context for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils, including data and background information about the communities
- Analysis of the reasons for low ascription
- Wider issues impacting on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils such as accommodation.
Booklet 2: Leadership and management
- Auditing policies and practice for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils
- Using data to identify and tackle underperformance
- Issues of access, induction and mobility
- Ensuring good attendance and reducing exclusions.
Booklet 3: Learning and teaching includes:
- Promoting access to learning within a supportive ethos and environment
- Appropriate pedagogic responses
- Personalising learning
- Intervention strategies including distance learning.
Booklet 4: Engagement with parents, carers and the wider community includes:
- Building and maintaining effective partnerships with parents, carers and community
- Communication - information-gathering and information-sharing
- The Gypsy, Roma and Traveller home-learning environment
- Involving the wider Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.
The aims of the resource
The guidance aims to support schools and settings in promoting the progress, participation and achievement of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils by providing essential background information for those involved in the teaching of these pupils. It also aims to support schools in raising standards, narrowing achievement gaps and accelerating progress through:
- an exploration of learning and teaching approaches that will maximise the achievement of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children and young people;
- providing conditions for learning that value diversity and build and promote self-confidence;
- challenging racism and promoting racial equality throughout the school;
- developing effective partnerships with parents, carers, families and communities.
The guidance is grounded in the following key principles:
- There are no inherent reasons why a child from a Gypsy, Roma or Traveller community should not achieve as well as any other child.
- High-quality teaching and assessment, plus appropriate specialist interventions, supported by school leaders, will improve the achievement of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils.
- Achievement will only occur through the combined efforts of school, child and home.
It is emphasised that the representation of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller groups as a focus of educational concern should not be seen as a deficit model of the lifestyle and culture of all or any of these groups. Individual children from these communities can and do achieve as well as pupils from other groups. It is not the intention of this guidance to suggest, directly or indirectly, that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities are universally suffering a lack of educational opportunities or are necessarily the victims of poverty and economic exclusion.
Key findings or focus
Key messages are provided in each booklet and include the following:
- Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children and young people have the same rights as all others to unhindered access to education.
- Because of a long history of racial prejudice and discrimination, many Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families are reluctant to declare their true ethnicity voluntarily. Schools have a duty to create an inclusive culture that encourages all parents and pupils to be confident in ascribing themselves to their appropriate ethnic group, either when they first join the school or at some later point.
- Attainment trends demonstrate that, while attainment levels for most groups have improved, for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils these levels have deteriorated. Research studies have consistently identified Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils as the group most at risk in the education system. However, research evidence also confirms that, when Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils are given the right learning environment and experiences, they can be equally as successful as any other group.
- The attainment of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils is the responsibility of everyone at the school. Inclusive, in-class, Quality First teaching, provides the means to improve the performance of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils.
- Personalised learning, including access to appropriate interventions, enables the needs of individuals and groups to be recognised and met.
- All children, including Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children, perform at their best in an environment that positively reflects and promotes their culture and lifestyle.
- Involvement in the whole life of the school is crucial for the success of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils; this includes extra-curricular activities.
- Effective partnerships between schools and parents of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children are built upon trust, honesty and mutual respect.
- Schools should challenge negative perceptions of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families and view parents as real partners and co-educators in the education of their children.
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource.
This resource was published in 2009 by the (then) Department for Children, Schools and Families as part of the National Strategies Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Achievement programme (GRTAP). The writing group consisted of experienced and respected practitioners in the field of Traveller education.
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors - when and how it could have best impact.
Extracts from these materials could be easily incorporated into regular ITT sessions on assessment, literacy, inclusion, personalised learning, celebrating diversity, the extended curriculum, working in partnership etc. ‘Points for reflection' and suggestions for ‘Next steps' are provided after each sub-section. These could be used to support trainees in placement schools where there are Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils. The intervention strategies described in Booklet 3 (pp37-45) are useful for all learners with literacy and/or language support needs.
The relevance to ITE students. - how and why it has importance.
Historically, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families have been marginalised by society. Like other members of the settled community, many trainees will have limited knowledge or first- hand experience of these communities. It is important that all trainees are aware of the materials. For those working in schools with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils on roll, Booklets 1 (Introduction) and 3 (Learning and Teaching) should be recommended reading.
The relevance to early career teachers: (if applicable)
All teachers need to be aware of the longstanding and well- documented record of poor educational outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils. For those working in schools with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils on roll, Booklets 1 (Introduction) and 3 (Learning and Teaching) are essential reading.
The following might be useful to read in conjunction with this resource:
DCSF(2008),Raising the achievement of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils, DVD-ROM,DCSF ref.00102-2008 DVD-EN
O'Hanlon, C. and Holmes, P. (2004), The Education of Gypsy and Traveller Children: Towards Inclusion and Educational Achievement, Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books
Tyler,C.(ed)(2005) Traveller Education: Accounts of Good Practice, Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books
Wilkin, A., Derrington, C. and Foster, B.(2009),Improving the Outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Pupils, LiteratureReview,DCSF-RR077
Wilkin, A., Derrington, C., Foster, B., White, R. and Martin, K. (2009) Improving educational outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils: What works? Contextual Influences and Constructive Conditions that may Influence Pupil Achievement. DCSF-RR170
Reviewed by Dr Chris Derrington