With a coordinated effort we can offer an education system more inclusive to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children

6-croppedA roundtable event, organised by the Traveller Movement, the Children’s Commissioner for England and hosted by Kate Green MP met on Wednesday 29 June in the Houses of Parliament to discuss the disproportionately high number of exclusions given to Gypsy, Traveller and Roma (GTR) pupils.

The event was organised on the back of research** recently published by the Traveller Movement which found that GRT children, in some areas in England, were 27 times more likely to be excluded than the whole school population.

The roundtable also heard from the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma community and education professionals on how best to reduce the number of school exclusions.

Commenting on the event, the Traveller Movement CEO Yvonne MacNamara said:

“The disproportionately high school exclusions amongst Gypsy, Traveller and Roma children is against a backdrop of wider issues in education affecting these children.

It was clear from the discussion at the event that a coordinated approach is needed to tackle the discrimination and bullying which children from Gypsy, Traveller and Roma (GTR) communities suffer every day in school.

We hope this event is the first step in a constructive relationship between the Children’s Commissioner, the Department of Education, the APPG for Gypsy Roma Travellers and the community itself to ensure GTR children are offered a more stable and accessible education.

It is only through a coordinated effort, with leadership from the Government and schools, to tackle discrimination and bullying that we can offer a more inclusive education system for all children.”

Anne Longfield OBE, Children’s Commissioner for England said:

“Children should only be excluded in exceptional circumstances and when the educational needs of the wider school population means there is no alternative.

There is a lot of ongoing work focussing on the needs and concerns of specific groups around exclusions, including very effective local initiatives specifically addressing high levels of Roma, Gypsy and Traveller pupil exclusions. Good practice from these needs to be shared. Overall the number of exclusions has been decreasing in recent years but we need to look at the role of parents, schools, local authorities and government in driving further improvements for all children.”