The Traveller Movement welcomes the review of school exclusions by former education Minister Edward Timpson published yesterday (7 May). The report makes 30 recommendations to Government calling for significant changes to the ways schools use exclusions, including making schools accountable for off-rolling (removing pupils unofficially from the register), or using exclusion as a first rather than as a last resort.
We are heartened to see some of our recommendations reflected in the report, such as building the capacity of school governors to ensure exclusions are used appropriately, making schools accountable for off-rolling, and reviewing the disproportionate number of SEN pupils excluded from school. Pupils from the Traveller of Irish Heritage and Gypsy/Roma ethnic groups continue to have the highest rates of both fixed period and permanent exclusions. TMs case work and research consistently shows that exclusion is often used as a first rather than as a last resort. It also showed that racism played a role in each and every case.
While there are many positive recommendations in the report there is no specific mention of racism or the impact of racist bullying, a significant contributor to the early school leaving of many Gypsy, Roma or Traveller (GRT) pupils. Additionally it is impossible to ignore the role of austerity in driving the disproportionately high numbers of exclusions among certain cohorts – cuts to Early Help Teams, dwindling Traveller Education Support Services, and longer waiting times for Education Health and Care assessments means many children’s needs are simply not being met.
The Department for Education has welcomed the review and agreed to all 30 recommendations in principle. The Children’s Commissioner also welcomed the review and published further research on the impact of school exclusions on children.
Additionally Timpson urged Ofsted to “consistently recognise schools who succeed in supporting all children” and further stated “We need to reward schools who are doing this well and hold to account those who are not”.
Last week the Traveller Movement launched a good practice guide to improving the educational outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils. The report outlines good practice in relation to GRT children in early years, primary and secondary school education, as reported by families, educationalists and schools. The report calls for providing flexibility for students, having high expectations, addressing racist bullying and working in partnership with families, pupils and local communities.
Yvonne MacNamara CEO of Traveller Movement said: we welcome the publication of the Timpson review and its recommendations. Additionally we are encouraged by the emphasis placed by Mr. Timpson on recognising and rewarding good practice in schools. However GRT pupils experience high levels of racist bullying so it is disappointing that this is not given serious consideration in the review.
Our good practice guide, launched last week in parliament provides a template for schools to promote the inclusion of all pupils and encourages schools to be open and to show a real commitment to diversity and inclusion.
T: 020 7607 2002
Notes to Editor
The Traveller Movement (TM) is a national community development policy and voice charity who campaign against discrimination, promote inclusion, participation and community engagement for the Irish Traveller and Gypsy communities in Britain. TM is proud to work in partnership with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities together with service providers and policy makers across the UK to better promote social inclusion and community cohesion.
- A link to A Good Practice Guide for improving the outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Children in education can be found here
- The Timpson Review of School Exclusion is here