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					Sunday 6th June 2004 – Knutsford, Cheshire

Delegates were welcomed to Cheshire by David Cracknell, Director of
Education & Community for Cheshire County Council.

The Course Director, Linda Walker, then led a session in which the delegates
worked together in small groups. They re-visited their own expectations from
their participation in the course and shared their own experiences of working
with Roma children and families.

As one delegate said “ A good start to realise, no matter how different countries we are
from, we have very similar problems and very similar expectations.”

Arthur Ivatts, HMI, presented a national overview of the situation regarding
the education of Gypsies and Travellers in England since 1972.
He outlined the progress from minimal educational provision to the
mainstreaming of Traveller education so that now it has a place on most
educational agendas. There is a national structure of Traveller Education
Services across England and increasing success year by year with access to
school, regular school attendance and rising levels of achievement. There is
still a need for more accurate data and coordinated action to improve access
to schools and education and raise achievement. There is also a need for
greater development of educational books and teaching resources that reflect
Gypsy and Traveller culture so that it becomes embedded in the curriculum.
Factors that have aided policy development in this area have included an
active political NGO/voluntary sector, the influence of Her Majesty’s
Inspectors of schools, a national commitment to race equality and increasing
parent power and political action. The future picture in Europe is that with
the declaration of the Roma Decade (2005 – 2015) Roma/Gypsies and
Travellers are now seen as a pan-European concern. There is increasing Roma
community awareness and a bigger part will be played by Roma/Gypsies and
Travellers in education at all levels.

Comments from delegates:

“It was very informative, I get the picture of the education system in England.”

“A very theoretical and sophisticated overview, provided me with the right amount of
information I was expecting to get to be able to figure out the picture regarding
Travellers in the UK.”
Linda Walker then gave a presentation from a local perspective on the work of
the Cheshire Consortium Traveller Education Service. This covered the aims
of the Service
     to raise awareness and understanding of Travellers and their culture
       in the educational community
     to support Traveller children and the schools which they attend
     to promote educational opportunities among Traveller families.
and went on to outline how these aims are achieved by providing
 advice and support to schools
 assistance with home/school liaison
 assistance with initial assessments & induction
 in-school support, if necessary, & In-service training
 advice on welfare matters
 liaison with other local agencies, LEAs and agencies nationally
 a resource bank of materials
 advice on the provision of Distance Learning Packs & Record transfer
 development of culturally appropriate curriculum materials.
This presentation also highlighted the difficulties faced by Gypsies and
Travellers as a result of prejudice and racism in schools and in the wider
community.

Delegate comments included:
“I Found it interesting, I hope to practice this experience in my country”
“..has channelled us all towards the human element of the educational provision”



A practical session followed with delegates visiting four elements of work in
progress outlined by members of the Traveller Education team, young
Travellers and a Gypsy family. They looked at
 a school based project to improve enrolment at secondary school
 a community based project to encourage social inclusion and break down
  barriers between the settled community and Gypsies and Travellers
 an art education project being run on a Gypsy site in partnership with a local
  college
 culturally appropriate resources that have been developed locally and
  nationally

This session was very positively received:
“An excellent array of materials that have given me ideas towards production of
resources.”
“A lot of practice to take over as a new experience in my country.”
Monday 7th June 2004 - A visit to Appleby New Fair – the largest Gypsy
gathering in England




From Appleby to Durham in the north east of England where two days were
spent learning about the work of the Traveller Education Services in this area.
An excellent dinner was enjoyed by all when we were welcomed to Durham and
joined by Gypsies and Travellers, the Chief Education Officer and Council
Members.
On Tuesday morning Angela Tierney, Co-ordinator of the Durham and
Darlington Traveller Education Service gave a presentation setting the
European and Local Education Authority perspective. She described the
deficit model of Roma education that is prevalent in much of Europe with
segregated educated systems which blame cultural identity for failure at
school. Importantly, an increasing number of Roma/Gypsies are working with
their communities and government to advocate change.
Angela highlighted the common European Union challenges
 To guarantee the protection of fundamental rights for Roma/Gypsy and
   Traveller children in line with legislation; especially their right to education
 To enhance and help the development of trans-national, integrated and
   jointly co-ordinated approaches, in order to develop social and educational
   policies for Roma/Gypsies and Travellers
 To promote educational policies for Roma/Gypsies and Travellers,
   guaranteeing full integration
 With the expansion of the European Union opportunities are increased for
   people to move freely between member states, including temporary workers
   and nomadic communities. How well are governments prepared to cope with
   the needs of such nomadic communities, especially the schooling of
   Roma/Gypsy and Traveller children?
Angela advocated a self-review within each country so that it could be
established where it is on the continuum with regard to the progress made at
government level, local government level and inter-government level.

Reference was made to the following documents:
‘Denied a Future? The Right to education of Roma/Gypsy and Traveller
children in Europe’              www.savethechildren.org.uk
‘Education, Inequalities and Social Exclusion’ – newsletter published by pjb
Associates with funding from the European Commission DG for Research
http://www.pjb.co.uk/npl/index
‘The Education of Gypsy Children within Europe/New Perspectives for
Learning – Briefing Paper 46 – The European Commission
“The self-review and all the other material given is very useful”
“ Very informative introduction, the session was well organised.”
“Very descriptive and fully representative of pros and cons.”




Following an outline of the work of the Durham and Darlington Education
Service for Travelling Children delegates attended workshops on Early Years
work and Secondary Education provided by members of the Service. These
workshops were then complemented and reinforced by visits to schools and
sites which the delegates found very rewarding.

“The Early Years Team showed how dedicated you have to be to do this work.”

“A great chance to see from a detailed view a school and its involvement in
Roma/Gypsy Travellers.”

“I found interesting the pupils learn ‘human rights’ and I agree it’s a good idea.”

“Most interesting was the opportunity I had to talk with the Roma/Gypsy pupils and
two Traveller mothers in the West Raintor Primary School.”

“The wealth of materials and equipment as well as the systematic evaluation of the
children’s progress.”



Middlesbrough – the final day

On arrival at the Middlesbrough Teaching and Learning Centre the Co-
ordinator of the Middlesbrough Consortium Traveller Education Service, Fran
Duncan, welcomed delegates and set the context for the day in her area.
The morning was spent visiting schools in small groups each led by a member
of the Traveller Education Team.

“Interesting and warmly descriptive and also very useful.”

In the afternoon delegates attended two workshops given by members of the
Traveller community. Emily Clark, a Romany Gypsy, talked about her
experiences and the educational experiences of her family and friends.
   “The video was informative, also the explanations about habits of Roma/Gypsy
   Travellers and their customs too.”
     “I was happy to listen to Emily. She admitted how important the education for
     Gypsy people is.”
Valerie Moody, from a Fairground family, talked about her life on the
Fairground, the education of her family and her work in promoting education
to Traveller communities.
“It was a very moving session. I really enjoyed it.”
“I liked the fact that the woman represents her community so strongly.”
And at last, of course, the Plenary session……

Linda Walker, Course Director, guided this session by reviewing the aims and
objectives that the course had aimed to meet, then summarised the positive
aspects of Gypsy and Traveller education in England:
   • Legislation to combat discrimination in place
   • Growing Government recognition of the difficulties faced by Gypsies &
      Travellers
   • Guidance to schools published by Department for Education & Skills
   • All Local Education Authorities funded to support Gypsy & Traveller
      children
   • An excellent support network of Traveller Education Services across
      England
   • Highly trained and committed Traveller Education teams
   • Trusting relationships and partnerships with Gypsy & Traveller families
   • Developing range of culturally affirming resources
   • Increasing examples of inter-agency co-operation/working
   • Significant numbers of special projects to enhance basic provision
   • Inclusion agenda in schools
There are however, still challenges and barriers that have to be faced and
surmounted
   • Social Exclusion of Gypsies and Travellers – “Acceptable hatred”
   • Cultural pressures within the Gypsy & Traveller community against
      secondary education
   • The easy option of ‘Education at Home’ equals no education for many
   • Extremely low numbers of Gypsies & Travellers as policy
      makers/decision makers in all spheres and at all levels
   • Marginalised still in areas of curriculum, resources, training

Following animated discussion on the comparable issues in the different
countries represented there was a strong feeling from delegates that they
had individually learned a great deal about the situation in England and were
now very motivated to take examples of best practice back to their own
colleagues to share with them. There was a strong feeling that once a group
like this had formed there should be a mechanism for keeping it together to
share future practice and enthusiasms!
All were asked to set their own action points as a result of the course and to
set a major goal that could be reported back to the group in six months time.

“We have to improve our vision on resolving problems of the Gypsy/Traveller
community. We have to do a lot on our teaching strategies just to involve Gypsy
children in the educational process.”

				
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