Inclusion of Roadside Traveller Families at Kingsholm Primary School
Louise Burrowes

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CONTEXT:
Roadside families find getting school places, and getting children to school difficult.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES:
This case study shows how one school made this possible.

DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITY:

     

Living life on the roadside can be very tough for Traveller families who have no legal stopping place. Families’ circumstances and experiences of living on the roadside can vary greatly - some may live without the most basic facilities such as water, sanitation, electricity or security of tenure and many live with the constant fear of being evicted and moved on.

Kingsholm C of E Primary School in Gloucester has a long history of welcoming Traveller families so, in the summer term of 2008, the school's existing good practice meant that 5 Traveller children who were living on a nearby unauthorised encampment were admitted into a very inclusive environment.

Paramount to keeping the children attending school was the building of a trusting relationship between staff and parents - the teaching staff made daily contact with the families, ensuring that they were fully aware of the children’s progress and of any activities going on in school. The Traveller Education Team was able to support staff in developing a good home/school partnership by also maintaining regular contact with the families.

Due to the highly mobile nature of the families, all children had gaps in curriculum coverage. IEPs were written and the children were quickly put into appropriate numeracy groups and additional literacy support was put in place.  As children who live on the roadside are a high priority for the Traveller Education Team, additional 1:1 support for the children was provided.   One of the children was very interested in Egyptian Mummies, school staff picked up on this and spent time talking and finding books from the library with him. It is the extra steps such as these that helped the children to settle in so well.

Admin staff also made good links with the families - by taking time to talk with them and doing their own research they were able to trace the previous school attended by the children, enabling their Unique Pupil Numbers to continue.

Near to the end of the summer term the families moved out of County due to illness in their extended family. They requested that school places were left open at Kingsholm as they planned to return. Kingsholm became the base school for the children who were then dual registered at a school local to where they were staying.

The children returned to school shortly after the start of the autumn term but had to move out of County again after only a few weeks, due to flooding in the field on which they were staying. The family moved to Telford and as a result of liaison between the school, family and Traveller Education Teams in Gloucester and Telford, the children accessed school places, again with dual registration and Kingsholm remaining the base school.

On speaking to the families during the summer term they praised Kingsholm for the way in which they had been welcomed and for how much help they had been given, making it so much easier for them to send their children to school.  The children said they felt happy being at Kingsholm and liked it because the teachers helped them with reading and writing.

 

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