Raising the Attainment and Attendance of Gypsy Traveller Children in Secondary Schools
Has Policy Worked?
This assignment will firstly look at the history of Traveller Education Policies in the United Kingdom and discuss briefly how discrimination and prejudice has impacted on the traveller community, especially with regards to school attainment and attendance. I will continue to attempt to explore how government sought to address this issue and how the traveller community are viewed by society. The assignment will then progress onto the history of school attainment and attendance and look into the history of traveller children’s education and how this has been discussed and debated in government. The assignment will then examine the concerns for professionals with regard to traveller parents who home educate their children and further discuss the barriers of school transfer from primary to secondary school. I will discuss two case studies of addressing non-school attendance and discuss the pros and cons of parental prosecution before making my conclusions.
From the research and literature that I have read it can be said without question that the modern gypsy traveller is marginalised and disadvantaged in our society. Attitudes of today’s society towards this ethnic minority group do not appear to have changed for hundreds of years. They continue to face the same prejudices and discrimination that was experienced by their fore fathers. In today’s society, the marginal position of Travellers makes it difficult to access and understand their lifestyle. The behaviour of travellers is often viewed by mainstream society as deviant as discussed by Steel (2004) cited in Carnwell,R and Buchanan, J (2009). Sibley (1981, p.29) argues that ‘continuing justification for a policy of control…one that is intolerant of perceived behaviours’, and confirms that deprivation is a subjective judgement which is made by society. Having worked closely with the travelling community I would suggest that separating the myths from reality can be difficult for some professionals. This can make the assessment process difficult for social workers as mainstream perspectives of behaviour can easily discriminate against the Traveller culture. I would argue that there is a risk that some social workers will accept the behaviour and attitudes of the Travellers culture as the norm and not challenge these attitudes. Fisher (2003), argues that ‘a Traveller child may be deemed to be at risk by experiencing the Traveller lifestyle, when the risk is actually created by discriminatory legislation’. The Race Relations Act 1965 sought to address this prejudice. This was the first Act in the United Kingdom to address racial discrimination. It was strengthened by the Race Relations Act 1968 and superseded by the race Relations Act 1976. Its purpose was to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, ethnic or national origin (Adams, 2002). More recently, the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 has given Gypsy and Irish Travellers ethnic status which now means they are supposed to be afforded protection by the Law in the same way as other ethnic minorities Carwell & Buchanang (2009).
Historically and in our present time there are still major barriers with regards to the education of gypsy traveller children. It appears that the main barrier to education is with that of secondary school age children. Although attendance at primary school age continues to be problematic, the attendance of gypsy travelling children in secondary education is considerably lower. The governments have long realised that there is a need for education provision within the gypsy traveller community and in 1908 the Liberal government brought into law the 1908 Children and Young Person’s Act which introduced a set of regulations that became known as The Children’s Charter. This imposed severe punishments for neglecting or treating children cruelly....
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