It’s been a busy time for the education team. Although awareness of our work is growing and we are receiving more and more referrals and we are still acutely aware of the challenges and discrimination faced by GRT children in schools. While there are pockets of good practice out there in terms of GRT support and engagement, there are still many children marginalised and side-lined in their education because of their ethnicity. We frequently receive referrals from families whose children are victims of racist bullying, unfair and unlawful exclusions, or who are just ‘treated differently’ compared to other children in their schools. Given the often hostile treatment shown towards Traveller children, it isn’t surprising that the education attainment rate remains worryingly low.
We took a trip up to Leicestershire and presented at Leicestershire GATE education conference in November and met some wonderful GRT advocates in the process. They are doing some amazing work up there ! It was heartening to hear the passion and enthusiasm from attendees who work daily to support GRT children.
We held a workshop at the Traveller Movement annual conference entitled ‘Mapping the progressive roots to economic inclusion for young people from the Gypsy Roma and Traveller communities’. The workshop was well-attended and led to an excellent and lively discussion about inclusion of GRT children in mainstream education. It was strongly argued that gender equality must be at the forefront of any discussion about economic inclusion, and that GRT children should be supported through all their educational endeavours including higher education.
The group made the following recommendations:
- Relevant bodies should examine the reasons that GRT young people are under-represented in the National Apprenticeship scheme.
- An ‘informed consent’ principle should be introduced for GRT parents choosing Elective Home Education.
- There should be a drive to employ more teachers from GRT backgrounds.
We have taken these recommendations on board and have included them in our work programmes.