The challenge

Gypsy/Roma and Traveller of Irish heritage are recognised as racial groups under the Equalities Act. Schools have a duty to protect them from discrimination and promote race equality. They are groups identified as vulnerable in the OFSTED framework.

Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are the lowest achieving groups at all Key stages.

More than half are eligible for free school meals, and almost 40% have significant Special Needs. They have the highest rates of exclusion and persistent absence.

There are many reasons for this situation including social exclusion, generational educational disadvantage, and social, economic and cultural issues.

Prejudice lies at the heart of many of these problems, fuelled by ignorance and sensational media coverage. All schools, including those with no Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils on roll, have a key role in promoting understanding and mutual respect through policies, training, curriculum content and partnership working.