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Supporting Gypsy Roma Traveller Pupils in Your School

Achievement and Inclusion

Research shows children and young people whose ethnicity is declared as Gypsy, Roma or Traveller (GRT) are the most at risk in the education system.

“Gypsy, Roma and Traveller [communities] have poorer health, worse educational outcomes and a higher level of infant mortality compared with many other groups. They also face high levels of hostility and discrimination, with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children particularly vulnerable to bullying in school."

House of Commons Select Committee 2019 - Tackling Inequalities Faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities - Report Summary.

Pupils from Gypsy or Roma backgrounds and those from a Traveller of Irish heritage background:

  • had the lowest attainment of all ethnic groups throughout their school years
  • were most likely to be excluded
  • were most likely to be absent
  • were less likely to stay in education after the age of 16 than pupils in any other ethnic group.

How Can the Equality Diversity Inclusion Team Help?

The Equality Diversity Inclusion Team (EDIT) incorporates The Virtual School for Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller pupils. The team provide advice, guidance, and training to help raise the achievement and inclusion of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children and young people.

The support to settings, schools, colleges, and professionals working with children and young people includes:

  • developing whole staff awareness of GRT culture, history, and traditions
  • introducing strategies to overcome barriers to education for GRT pupils and their families
  • advise on parental and community engagement
  • sharing resources and modelling lessons that can be incorporated into a GRT inclusive curriculum
  • working alongside staff to engage parents in the life of the school
  • provide 1-1 or small group support to engage pupils in their learning
  • supporting schools to celebrate Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller History Month (GRTHM)
  • GRT inclusive workshops
  • GRT - awareness raising assemblies
  • promoting the effective use of data to identify any underperformance and evaluate effectiveness of support strategies
  • building confidence of staff and pupils to challenge racism and discrimination
  • putting the ‘World back into World Book Day’ using GRT oral stories, and books.

Raising Awareness of GRT History and Culture

How Can the Equality Diversity Inclusion Team Help?

This training session is available bespoke to schools, as part of an EDIT Core Support Package or via training courses.

During the session delegates will:

  • develop a greater knowledge and understanding of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller history, culture, lifestyles and beliefs
  • explore and understand the barriers to learning for GRT children and young people
  • understand the importance of accurate data to inform practice
  • develop a greater understanding of the statutory duties, Equality Act, Ofsted criteria in regard to equality and challenging racism.

Improving Outcomes

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 effective Assessment for Learning (AfL), plus appropriate specialist interventions, supported by school leaders, are key factors in improving the achievement of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children and young people, as groups and as individuals.

Achievement will only occur through the combined efforts of the school, child and home.

Research has identified when aiming to improve outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils in schools the main areas to focus on are usually:

  • transfer and transition
  • attainment
  • attendance
  • retention
  • progression
  • engagement
  • enjoyment
  • health and wellbeing.

These educational outcomes are essentially inter-dependent and improvement in one area inevitably impacts on another.

The unique context of the school can enhance or impede the improvement of educational outcomes for these groups of pupils. Individual schools will need to focus their efforts on different aspects more strongly than others, depending on their context.

Improving the outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils: final report - Anne Wilkin, Chris Derrington, Richard White, Kerry Martin, Brian Foster, Kay Kinder, and Simon Rutt

How Can the Equality Diversity Inclusion Team Help?

Based on the research above and the findings of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Achievement Programme undertaken in 2009 (resource documents can be found below), the Equality Diversity Inclusion Team (EDIT) offer bespoke advice, and support to assist schools to examine their policy, practice and curriculum in order to improve the outcomes of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils.

Our training module available in house or through CPD online – ‘Improving Outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Pupils’ will support schools to ensure that they are aware of any possible barriers to GRT achievement and how to overcome these.

Engaging GRTs in Secondary Schools

At key stage 4 the disparity between Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils is wider than in earlier key stages. They were also far less likely to stay in education after the age of 16 than pupils in any other ethnic group, with just 58% of Irish Traveller pupils and 62% or Gypsy and Roma pupils staying on in 2014/15. Race Disparity Audit Summary Findings from the Ethnicity Facts and Figures website March 2018.

It is the duty of schools to do all they can to reduce the disparity between these groups and others.

How Can the Equality Diversity Inclusion Team Help?

The Equality Diversity Inclusion Team (EDIT) can provide consultancy, training and 1-1 pupil and group support to help secondary schools to improve the engagement of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils.

Addressing GRT Attendance Issues

The ethnic groups with the highest overall absence rates were Travellers of Irish heritage (19.1% of all sessions missed) and Gypsy/Roma (15%).

58.8% of Travellers of Irish heritage pupils were persistently absent – the highest percentage of all ethnic groups. The second highest group was Gypsy/Roma at 52.1%.

Absence from School, updated September 2020: Ethnicity Facts and Figures Gov.UK

How Can the Equality Diversity Inclusion Team Help?

The Equality Diversity Inclusion Team offers schools and settings consultancy and support to ensure all educational establishments can address Gypsy, Roma and Traveller attendance issues.

Training and support can be delivered to schools/settings or via a consultancy basis.

Guidance on GRT Attendance

Working Together to Improve School Attendance for maintained schools, academies, independent schools and local authorities, updated 5 September 2023, of particular relevance is:

  • Code D: Dual Registered at another school
  • Code T: Traveller absence.

Promoting the Inclusion of GRT Children in the Primary EYFS

Many practitioners feel uncomfortable discussing underachievement of vulnerable groups, particularly when the groups are defined by their ethnicity. Children and families who are Gypsy, Roma or Travellers of Irish heritage, particularly when they are ‘settled’ and no longer travelling, are often ‘invisible’ because most are white and their ethnicity is not obvious, but they are recognised and protected under the Race Relations Amendment Act. These frequently excluded groups experience prejudicial and often openly hostile attitudes and racism.

How Can the Equality Diversity Inclusion Team Help?

Promoting the Inclusion of Gypsy Roma Traveller Children Within Settings

The Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage states that:

“The EYFS seeks to provide:

  • quality and consistency in all early years settings, so that every child makes good progress and no child gets left behind
  • a secure foundation through learning and development opportunities which are planned around the needs and interests of each individual child and are assessed and reviewed regularly
  • partnership working between practitioners and with parents and/or carers
  • equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice, ensuring that every child is included and supported.”

The Equality Diversity Inclusion Team (EDIT) will support practitioners to ensure that this entitlement is met for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children.

Useful Resources

Building Futures Developing Trust: A focus on provision for children from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller backgrounds in the Early Years Foundation Stage.

EDIT GRT E-Learning Modules

Useful Links and Support Groups

Contact Us

You can get in touch with us using our designated contact page - contact EDIT here!