Quick Response: “Gypsy” School in UK?

A new education centre has opened in Birmingham for children who do not have a school place or have been excluded from mainstream school.

Baverstock in the City targets Gypsy and traveller children, those for whom English is not their first language and pupils with challenging behaviour.

It is a Balsall Heath branch of The Baverstock Academy.

An application to turn it into a free school has been prepared, which would give it a capacity of 1,000 students.

‘No place for them’

Thomas Marshall, head teacher of The Baverstock Academy, said: “There are close to 900 Gypsy Romany traveller children without a school place at the moment.

“The number of students with English as a second language is growing and growing across the city as people move into Birmingham and they don’t have school places because they tend to move into the centre of the city where there aren’t enough secondary schools.”

He said his experience with teaching excluded students was developed at the academy which regularly made eight or nine permanent exclusions each year and had a very high number of fixed-term exclusions when he took over in September 2010.

“When they enjoy education they want to take part even further and achieve goals… The children want to be educated and there was no place for them,” he added.

‘Get on without bullying’

Damien Le Bas, editor of the Travellers’ Times, said Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers report problems with school that includes bullying and teachers that misunderstand their ethnicity.

He said: “People forget that in the 1960s lots of schools wouldn’t accept traveller children so there is an historic cultural problem and it’s no surprise we [Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers] have the worst educational attainment in the country over all indicators.”

He said traveller children can have an expectation they will take part in a family business, sometimes instead of school, from a young age.

“I welcome this focus on traveller education, though am not sure about separating students,” he added.

“I benefitted enormously through being in a mixed school with people with high expectations, but I know some who wish they’d been able to be in a school just with travellers so they could get on without the bullying and other problems they faced.”

About 30 students will be inducted to the centre at the Friends Institute on Moseley Road later and a further 50 are expected to start this academic year. – BBC NEWS

 

The concept is really big in Europe and they’re really disgusting places to be, they’re basically sanatoriums, and forced enrolment has nothing to do with performance it’s based purely on ethnicity, topped up with ‘excluded pupils and others without a school place’. I’m sure nothing like that would happen here…
But you never know it might be a good thing but to group a group of ethnicities together with excluded pupils (side note: then shame the excluded pupils by calling it a “Gypsy” school, they’re not really going to like that) is pretty damning, you haven’t even arrived yet and you’re a ‘trouble maker’. A ‘drop in centre’ style thing would be pretty useful, not really viable but I would see people suggesting it, but it occurs to me that if you are already settled in Birmingham (or wherever), then you’re settled enough to apply for a ‘normal’ school place. But as Damien says, to have somewhere you can just ‘get on with it’ would be a welcome thing, assuming of course the ‘trouble’ children don’t hold them back, but continuing to segregate people isn’t going to promote inclusion, if we can’t get children of different cultures to play together how are we to expect them to play nicely as adults – both sides need to learn that the other isn’t “dirty, violent or stupid”. Settled people have jut as much of an image problem in Travelling communities as Travellers have in settled communities.
The idea of including speaks of foreign languages (umm good luck with that because I doubt many Europeans will be pleased about sending their children to the ‘”Gypsy” school’. Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Czech, good luck with that) is an interesting one, it would be interesting to see if the demand is high enough to bring in teachers that speak, at least a passing level, of Romani to accommodate for the increasing number of Roma refugees and immigrants. Most English Romany now use English as their first language (as do the Irish), the old chib is broken, but there are plenty of Roma children that require the additional support (but once again they’re from, or have family in, these countries with specialist Roma schools…).
It would be interesting, if the government is going to open a “Gypsy” school to open a “Gypsy” school, not just one for troubled children but an actual good quality school comparable to that of Jewish schools, providing high quality education whilst promoting cultural values (but whose culture? there isn’t but one), and some teachers who are themselves Romani and Pavee/Irish Travellers. Make it a place for, not a place to put. It’s never going to happen but equally why not? Forced inclusion doesn’t work, forced exclusion doesn’t work, to move forward we have to work with people.

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Reblog Pip Borev: An Open Letter to Carol Vorderman

Dear Carol Vorderman, 

I was somewhat shocked to discover that you still have a career after coming across your ignorant, vile and derogatory rant about Gypsy and Traveller communities in Closer magazine. This shock, however, was short lived when I remembered that, as you point out, there is one rule for us and one rule for the rest of society. Nonetheless, I am still rather bewildered as to why you feel so hard done by, thus, I would like to highlight to you the special privileges that you, as a rich, white and successful celebrity, are missing out on by not being part of a Gypsy or Traveller community. 

 
Under the Race Relations Act 1976, Gypsy and Traveller communities are recognised as ethnic minorities, thus, supposedly should be protected from discrimination. I guess you find this very unfair – why should a bunch of delinquents who decided to live in caravans be entitled to these extra rights that the hard working white tax payer doesn’t get? Maybe if you bought a caravan and became a Gypsy then you would also be able to bask in the privileges that the Race Relations Act supposedly brings, such as: being refused registration at your local GP surgery; being refused service from pubs and restaurants; being forced to deny your identity so you are not bullied at school or refused employment; and being refused planning permission whether it be on the green belt, a remote mountain peak or the moon. 
 
What more could Gypsy and Traveller communities want? All these extra privileges and still they have to snatch away the very few pleasures that the rest of society are given, such as cricket pitches, village greens, playing fields and the roadside. Of the19,413 Gypsy and Traveller caravans in England, 84% are on authorised sites while 16% on unauthorised sites. Under the Housing Act 1996, a person is considered homeless if they have accommodation but “there is no place where he is entitled or permitted both to place it and to reside in it”. Therefore, any Gypsy or Traveller living on an unauthorised site can be considered homeless. The Coalition government have withdrawn funding for and repealed targets to provide sites for Gypsy and Traveller communities whilst introducing greater powers for local authorities to challenge unauthorised developments. This was introduced in spite of the fact that there is a widely documented pitch shortage. In Preston, the home of the Hoghton Cricket Club whom you speak of so fondly of, there are an estimated 111 Gypsies and Travellers but just 14 pitches. The presence of unauthorised sites, thus, is hardly surprising. 
 
But what about the people “who pay their taxes and work hard to keep their homes and villages nice”? Why should they be subjected to the injustice of having homeless people living in their white middle class villages? Why can’t Gypsies and Traveller just live in houses like everyone else? Turns out, that around one half to two thirds of Gypsies and Travellers are living in bricks and mortar accommodation. If you would like the rest of us to join them then we will happily ditch centuries of nomadic tradition and move in next door to you and your hard working neighbours Carol. Oh wait, that’s right, you wouldn’t want the likes of me living next door to you would you? So where should we go? Should we only ‘invade’ the not so “pristine” parks situated in council estates, after all, as long as we’re not leaving behind “faeces” on the precious cricket pitches of middle class villages, does it really matter? Or do you simply want the “Gypsy problem” to disappear as Hitler advocated during WWII when he murdered 500,000 Romani Gypsies, including members of my own family.
 
The truth is that you are entirely correct. There is one rule for Gypsies and Travellers and one rule for everyone else, except it is your rule that comes crammed with extra privileges. Gypsies and Travellers are hated not because they ‘invade’ fields and cricket pitches, but because they have been a hugely maligned and despised minority since their arrival to Europe and the UK, centuries ago. They have been subjected to slavery, extermination, sterilisation, segregation both geographically and in education, evictions, poverty, hate crime, and the criminalisation of their entire culture. In spite of this, the rest of society wonders why we remain so resistant to assimilation. The sad truth is that despite Hitler’s attempted extermination of Europe’s Romani community, attitudes towards Gypsy and Traveller communities have not changed but instead have remained hostile and prejudiced. “Discrimination against gypsies and travellers appears to be the last ‘respectable’ form of racism” and goes without the same level of outrage that racism towards other ethnic minorities receives. Had your column included a similar article about any other ethnic minority, I am certain that you would be surrounded by shame and scandal. Perhaps then Carol, you are a very lucky that there is one rule for Gypsies and Travellers and one rule for everyone else, as if there wasn’t your career would certainly be over. 
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Pip Borev.

Reblogged from: http://pipopotamus.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/an-open-letter-to-carol-vorderman.html

FAQ Gypsies and Travellers

Romany Gypsy and Traveller families have been an integral part of British society since before the time of King Henry VIII yet myths and misconceptions continue to be perpetrated in both the media and the public mind. At times it certainly seems that discrimination against Romany Gypsies and Travellers is the last acceptable form of racism.

Below are a series of FAQ and the truth on the matter.

MYTH – Gypsies and Travellers are thieves and criminals!

FACT – There is no evidence of higher crime rates amongst Gypsies and Travellers. Whilst some are involved in crime, just as in any other community, members of the Gypsy and Traveller communities are statistically underrepresented in the prison population.

Media reports and images are often inaccurate and discriminatory.

Some settled people engage in criminal activity, it is not assumed that this is a characteristic of all settled people.

MYTH – Gypsies and Travellers don’t pay tax!

FACT – Like everyone else Gypsies and Travellers pay road tax, VAT on goods and services, and income tax when working or self-employed. They also pay council tax and licence fees on their homes.

MYTH – Gypsies and Traveller live outside the law!

FACT – There is no evidence for above average crime rates amongst Gypsies and Travellers, likewise all taxes are paid.

Unfortunately housing is one of the biggest problems both Romany and Traveller families face.

Since 1994 councils have not be obliged to provide sites for Gypsy and Traveller families, this has lead to homeless Gypsies and Travellers having to stop in unsuitable, often dangerous locations. In 2002 Government research estimates that at least 4500 additional pitches are needed nationally.

As an alternative to this families who try to provide their own often find difficulties getting planning permission with only 10% of initial planning applications by Gypsies and Travellers succeeding compared to 80% of applications from the settled population. Subsequently continuing the cycle of eviction and homelessness.

The conflicts that can be generated are in nobody’s long-term interest.

MYTH – Gypsies and Travellers are dirty!

FACT – Gypsies and Travellers take pride in cleanliness in themselves and their homes, and have strict hygiene laws that govern their daily lives. For the Romani this is known as Marime (Mahrime) and dictates how food is prepared, clothes are washed and their homes are kept, at the very minimum different bowls are used for washing hands, food and different items of clothing.

Unfortunately, a quarter of Gypsies and Travellers are homeless without access to a legal site, limiting their availability to facilities such as running (tap) water or rubbish collection.

Between 1970 and 1994 under the Caravan Site Act 1966, when local authorities were obliged to provide sites many provided them in unsuitable locations far from local facilities, by motorways, rubbish tips or industrial activities.

MYTH – Gypsies and Travellers are work shy!

FACT – Gypsy and Traveller community members often start work young and traditional skills are passed down between generations. There is a strong work ethic within Gypsy and Traveller communities which is based simply on the need to survive and make a living.

MYTH – Gypsies and Travellers sites ruin neighbourhoods!

FACT – Research shows that relationships between Gypsies and Travellers and the settled community develop effectively where well-designed and well-managed sites are provided.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 1996 found that Gypsies and Travellers and settled neighbours have built up effective relationships once a site has been established.

MYTH – Can’t Gypsies and Travellers just live in houses!

The  courts  have confirmed that homeless  Gypsies  and Travellers should not be forced to accept conventional housing.

In 2003 a High Court the judge quoted European case law stating:

“In order to meet the requirements and accord respect, something more than taking account of an applicant’s Gypsy  culture is required…Respect includes the positive obligation to act so as to facilitate the Gypsy way of life.”

Although some Gypsies and Travellers are content with their brick-and-mortar homes others feel like they have been forced into them, accepting due to desperation at having nowhere else safe to go causing much difficulty and stress including isolated from their extended family. Romany culture developed alongside a travelling lifestyle making being ‘trapped’ in one place difficult for them, equally others may see the conventional positioning of the kitchen and bathroom in most houses as being incompatible with Romany hygiene laws.  Sometimes it is not simply not practical due to work commitments and business.

It is estimated that 50% of the UK’s Gypsies and Travellers now live in houses; however there are no accurate figures due to a lack of adequate surveying, including previously The National Census. This unknown can often lead to the needs of housed Gypsies and Travellers not being met.

MYTH – Gypsies and Travellers don’t pay tax!

FACT – Like everyone else Gypsies and Travellers pay road tax, VAT on goods and services, and income tax when working or self-employed. They also pay council tax and licence fees on their homes.

MYTH – Gypsies and Travellers are greedy!

Romani Gypsy and Irish Traveller culture often values portable wealth and unlike non-Gypsy culture this wealth is often highly visible but the amount of capital they might have in their homes is worth is far less than the equity many non-Gypsies have and in terms of caravans is constantly depreciating in value.

MYTH – Gypsies and Travellers don’t care about society!

FACT – Gypsies and Travellers are a part of society and not separate from it. They engaged in many paid and voluntary activities supporting local communities and national life.

Read More 

Leicestershire Together: Gypsies and Travellers – The Truth

Flintshire County Council: Gypsies and Travellers

Newark & Sherwood Community & Voluntary Service: Myths & Misconceptions

Re-Blog: Travellers should resist collective shame for slavery

Travellers should resist collective shame for slavery.

by Rosaleen McDonagh

OPINION: The cruel actions of a family in England have horrified my community

‘Your crowd were at it again.” This came from a friend, referring to the recent sentencing of members of the Connors family for slavery offences in England.

The family are Travellers who exploited, beat and starved vulnerable men for financial benefit. The men who had been under the control of this family, some for more than 20 years, were paid £5 a day. Their living conditions were appalling. The images and the reports of the malnutrition and the treatment they suffered was evocative of an earlier century when white people carried out similar forms of cruelty on black people.

The collective shame and shock within my community was palpable when the news reports were broadcast. Traveller children were afraid to go to school the following morning. “Slave owners” was the taunt in the playground, in the classroom, in the library and even in the workplace.

The punishment is dished out to a whole community for the acts of individual criminals. My friend, using the phrase “your crowd”, not only articulated a false sense of familiarity – it was an attempt at goading.

Catapulted into guilt

The coverage of the Connors case catapulted my community into guilt. Guilt by association operates more intensely when it is embedded in a context of racism. The impulse was to keep our heads down, bury our shame and hold our silence. This is problematic. Silence can be toxic. Being falsely incriminated by way of one’s ethnicity should not mean that you collude with criminality.

The words of Traveller human rights activist Martin Collins came to my mind when I searched for a response to the taunt “your crowd”. Criminality is not part of Traveller culture nor part of our DNA.

Shame should not be used as a mechanism to hold a community to account. Collective shame should not have to be carried by the whole community for the behaviour of one small group. It should not have to be carried from one generation to another. My generation already carries many elements of shame – these are projected on to us by the mere fact that Travellers are “the other”.

Slavery, feuding, domestic violence and other forms of criminality are all too prevalent, not just within the Traveller community. The stereotypes and the misdefinition of Traveller identity gets reduced to these negative behaviours.

The exploitation of migrant workers, the mistreatment of domestic workers and the trafficking of women are forms of criminality that are societal rather than ethnic issues.

Internalised oppression can never be used as an excuse for criminality. Systemic oppression does, however, lead to behaviours whereby the oppressed, to feel powerful, will exploit other vulnerable people in inhumane ways. This modus operandi for internalised oppression manifests as a particular type of social contract.

Endemic alienation

This concerns itself with bullying and intimidation and serves as a form of fast-tracking of social mobility based on money, machismo, and bravado. Alienation can become so endemic within marginalised individuals and communities that crime can be perceived to have the most immediate rewards.

The rewards for buying into the dominant social contract include a sense of citizenship, belonging and opportunity. Esteem and dignity are on offer. Participation comes with rewards of access and choice.

However, in my community I know very few doctors, barristers, dentists, teachers, engineers or academics. The list of professions we are not a part of seems to get longer with each generation.

The crimes carried out by members of the Connors family are also attacks on the fabric of a vulnerable community. Exploitation and intimidation are not confined to victims beyond the community but also happen within the Traveller community.

This is often difficult to challenge or highlight. An imposed collective shame is difficult to shrug off. Challenging a false social contract based on crime is difficult in a context of racism. Exposing any kind of antisocial behaviour within a small community comes at a price. Individuals within our community do take on these tasks with integrity and courage. They are our agents for social change.

* Rosaleen McDonagh is a playwright from the Travelling community

BRINGING TRAVELLERS INTO THE RSPCA HEYTHROP HUNT TIFF? I DON’T BELIEVE IT

Whilst researching information on the rumoured investigation of the RSPCA by the Charity Commission for bringing the Heythrop Hunt to prosecution I came across an article written by an intern for a top natural newspaper. Fairly unremarkable, the article did however manage to surprise me. In the current manner of the RSPCA’s rivals it accuses them of  ’double standard’ and being ‘more interested in social class than animal rights’, picking and choosing amongst equally valid evidence to find cases in line with their political agenda. The surprising thing about the article was not its own political agenda but the hypocrisy of the piece spurning the RSPCA for spending time and resources on one ‘class’ of people whilst a second group  of people from a different ‘class’ are allowed to get away with cruelty yet it would seem as if the article is overly focus on the second group and is in my opinion a racially motivated tirade against a minority group who are counted on being unable to defend themselves, for the purpose of winning cheap support. The example group used is two Traveller families who appeared in the Channel 4 documentary Gypsy Blood. From what I know of Gypsy Blood it is nothing but a sickening, sensationalised monstrosity described by Channel 4 as:

an intimate portrait of two gypsy families, their fight for respect and the price they pay in cycles of revenge that can erupt into sudden and terrifying violence. Gypsy Blood is a haunting study of masculinity, violence and the uneasy relationship gypsy and traveller men have with their bare-knuckle traditions, and an insight into people living amongst a wider society but sometimes with values that are a world apart.

Featuring from all accounts cock fights and deer coursing. Two despicable crimes of immense cruelty that unfortunately the RSPCA were unable to prosecution anyone over due to a number of annoying little nuances in our legal system, the article explains itself that documentary footage itself was not enough without time, location and individuals, and warrants to search for further evidence were on at least one occasion denied. This is a tremendous shame and if something should be investigated it should be why this case could not be taken any further, likewise why the Heythrop Hunt have to be a private prosecution. The article fails to connect the similarities and illegality of both (fox) hunting with dogs and cockfighting, quoting Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance complaining about “clear animal cruelty”, and suggesting that if the RSPCA was interested in animal welfare they wouldn’t have focused their resources on the Heythrop Hunting, ignoring of course the intense cruelty involved in hunting foxes with dogs. I believe that Gypsy Blood and the RSPCA’s prosecution failure, although valid, was chosen not out of genuine concern for animal welfare but as a means to rally easy support. Playing on public misconceptions and hatred of a minority group, the piece was cowardly with few merit. Nobody is bigger than the law and I think people should remember this. I can only hope that the Heythrop prosecution has proven this, I just hope that all this negative press doesn’t damage the important work carried out by the RSPCA on a daily basis.

Kill me with Affection. Part 2

In which I discuss why sometimes writing about an ethnicity you ‘like’ can do more harm than good. 

Earlier I discussed Tolkien’s use of a simile race in his greatest works but I will admit that perhaps I did not make my motivation clear. In fact I may have simply just muddled the waters for Tolkien is for all intense and purposes irrelevance to my point, The Hobbit was simply the inspiration behind my train of thought.

I call these posts ‘Kill me with Affection’ because I have noticed that this is indeed what a number of authors do, whether it be their intention or not. Lets take the Romani discourse for example, that is after all what I desire to speak about.

People write, on mass it would seem, on the topic of ‘Gypsies’. I reference fiction, fantasy, role-playing. Not entirely limited to books, we also have television, plays, video and card games, we might even take drawing, photography and fashion we will always come down to the same problem. People enjoying ‘Gypsies’, or at the very least this fictional romanticist of what a ‘Gypsy’ is. No body really likes Gypsies, I have spoken to many people who enjoy the tales and dressing up but when it gets down to it don’t much care for our living, breathing forms. But I’m afraid that I’m mixing too many issues at once so lets start simply.

  • People enjoy writing about ‘Gypsies’.
  • People enjoy reading about ‘Gypsies’.
  • People have a very set view of what constitutes a ‘Gypsy’ is and are only interested in their understanding of what one is and what one should be .
  • People have a number of misunderstanding on Romani culture and how we live our lives, relevant to both the ‘Gypsy idealism’ and how other Romani families live both now and ‘then’. The ‘then’ being any arbitrary imagined period, or perhaps more aptly ‘style’ that the author wishes to portray, hopefully correlated with some factual truth.
  • Audience
  • In addition to this we also have Travelling people as literary, or story devises – smuggling, curses, fortune telling.

People want to write and read stories about a particular race because they find them interesting. The author, or society has decided that they are interesting. Why do people find this race interesting, personal perception of what another race is like, and because the Romani have been romanticised for eons.

People are tired of their day-to-day life they want a holiday, they’re stressed by work, their home life etcetera. etcetera look Gypsies they have no responsibility, travel from place to place without worries. Even if we just stick with all of the ‘good’ things that people think about Romanies and Travellers and forget the bad exist we are still left with this issue of dehumanisation.

The people who are being written about are not a people but a desire of what the writer wants – escapism. Now this can lead to two sets of problems, firstly Romanies, or Gypsies as the common bookworm identifies us as, become equated with faeries and mythical creatures. This is an attitude I have particularly noticed of Americans.

A Mythological creature cannot suffer racism, discrimination or crime, they have no human rights and as a result of this I have found that people are more likely to dismiss the suffering of Romani people because they have problems taking them seriously as human beings, this is further amplified by intense misconceptions of what a Romani looks like, “what women is not a gypsy, where is her tambarin and singing goat” etc. etc.

This fairytale lifestyle is also insulting. Yes us Romani are pretty great, we sing and we dance but we travel out of necessity, pulled by economic opportunity and pushed by discrimination and genocide. The Roma and Sinti suffered the Porajmos, the Romani holocaust. We have been slaves, and we are still to this day forced into ghettos and work camps. To wash over our history (and present reality) of hardship is disgusting, it is an insult spat in our face and the faces of everyone we have ever loved.

English: "Gypsy Caravan" by Leon Goodman

“Gypsy Caravan” by Leon Goodman

But most importantly these stories paint a very particular view of what us ‘Gypsies’ are supposed to be like, not every story is the same but most grew from tired stereotypes based around one period of Romani history. I say one, I lie, I actually mean two. The first is the Bohemian, the likes of Esméralda and Carmen, and the second my people (*bows*) with our painted vardos. Beautiful imagery I’ve no doubt, and indeed the painted vardo is still very much to this day beloved by modern Romany however this view, this idea of how a ‘Gypsy’ should be distracts away from how we are. There is this hatred towards ‘Travellers’ in their trailers but a romantic love of ‘Real Gypsies’ in their horse-drawns. We live to shouts of ‘if only they would live properly, I don’t mind proper Gypsies’. This is not right, how can a characterchure of a bygone age that only ever existed partially be the ‘Real’ and us, with our blood, our history, our culture be the fake?

Even if the author wish to avoid old stereotypes, they will come up against the issue that they, and their readership, simply do not understand enough about Romani culture to accurately portray us. Is that not a good enough reason in itself not to write about our culture?

Nevertheless, even after countless research, an author who has decided to write about a culture that interests them merely because they are interested is doomed to fail, because fundamentally they will write about the aspects of that culture that interests them, they will expanded upon, exaggerated it and distorted it. It is not their characters that are important but their ethnicity. A distorted wreak of cultural mishmashing lacking in believability, they will not live as themselves but as an ‘other’ to be juxtaposed against the ‘norm’. For the author will always have their audience in mind, a gargle of romanticists, without even the smallest consideration that a ‘Gypsy’ might be able to read their books.

Why is it I say that people are killing me with affection? Because even when people are being nice to the Romani all they seem to be able to come up with are washed up old stereotypes that at the end of the day continue to do more harm than good.

A Humble Proposal: A study of low attainment and education in Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Traveller communities.

A study of low attainment and education in Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Traveller communities. [incomplete – draft copy]

The goal of my inquiry is to research how education is perceived within a range of Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Traveller communities, for the purpose of researching for a documentary on the same topic.

Illiteracy and low attainment are major problems in Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Traveller communities. According to Ofsted Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Traveller children and young people are the most at risk in the education system’ with the 2003 School Census identifying children of a Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Traveller background group as being the lowest attaining of all Ethnic Minority groups nationally.

In 2011 just 12% of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils achieved five or more good GCSEs, compared with 58.2% of all pupils1

At this moment I would suspect issues of accessibility and discrimination play an important role, alongside factors from within the communities themselves, as major contributing factors.

Attainment gaps are a complex issue and the underperformance of GRT pupils may be due to a combination of factors, including financial deprivation, low levels of parental literacy and aspiration for their children’s academic achievement, poor attendance and bullying.2

  • Financial deprivation

A large percentage of Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Traveller communities and family groups, even in the UK live below the poverty line (quantitative  data unavailable) . Of all children registered as being of Romany Gypsy, Roma or Irish Traveller descent in UK schools: 43.2% in Primary schools, 45.3% in secondary schools and 57.5% in Special Schools are currently eligible for Free School Meals.3

  • Poor attendance
The traditional lifestyle and business practices of Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Traveller communities can mean that large periods of time are spent away from registered local amenities, leading to large gaps developing in a child’s education.    

Existing legislation (set out in Section 444 (6) of the 1996 Education Act) protects mobile Gypsy and Traveller families from prosecution for their children’s non-attendance provided that: 

they are engaged in a trade of business of such a nature that requires them to travel from place to place; 

The child has attended at a school as a registered pupil as regularly as the nature of that trade permits; and

any child aged six or over has attended school for at least 200 half day sessions during the preceding year4

There is also the problem of Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Traveller families being unable to find legal pitches. 90% of planning applications submitted by Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Travellers are initially refused by planning authorities, compared to 20% for all other applicants (Commission on Racial Equality).

  • Bully

Discrimination against Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Traveller communities is common with a third of UK residents admitting to be openly prejudiced against Gypsies and Travellers. (2003 Mori poll) with institutional acceptance from politicians, local council and in the media.  Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Traveller children within schools often feel victimised due to their race and background resulting troublmaking, truancy and expulsion.

Methodology

Academic and government reports and studies involving ethnic minorities rarely directly involves said ethnic minority and cannot accurately represent the group the group being studied therefore the methodology of my proposed study will be autoethnographic. Studying the communities from with. Directly involving Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Traveller communities via meetings, interviews and questionnaires but most importantly feedback.

The research will be divided into three sections:

  • Romany Gypsies, Rroma and Travellers in Further and Higher education education
  • Romany Gypsies, Rroma and Travellers in compulsory education
  • The parents of Romany Gypsies, Rroma and Traveller in education

Each group will be asked for their own personal opinion and how they perceive the other groups and their wider community would feel. Do they feel their views represent the wider community. Are they supported in their choices. Do they have any comments on the research so far.

This inclusion of research subjects into the project is with the aim of not only keeping people involved and ensuring all the information is correct but is also with the hope of building relationships and inviting people back to participating in the documentary.

Audience

The primary audience for this study is primarily myself and the participants however the aim is to turn the research into a documentary and make it as accessible as possible. Due to the success of  related programme on Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Traveller communities such as My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Gypsy Life, Gypsy Blood recently and the number of backlashes again these programmes (especially MBGFW and Gypsy Blood) has made people even more interested in the ‘secret life’ of  Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Traveller communities. Although the audience of my study will be every different from that of MBFGW due to it being a different place of programme there is still significant interest in the lives of Romany Gypsy, Rroma and Traveller communities to warrant a small scale documentary.