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Exclusion of Travellers in state schools

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Abstract:

Travellers in Scotland and the rest of the UK are often still mobile. In particular, the showground and circus communities remain highly mobile for much of the year. The overt stereotyping, discrimination and racial prejudice faced mostly by Gypsies and Travellers is said to keep them out of schools and certainly has contributed to low attendance levels and even non-attendance and dropout before the due leaving date. The research carried out in Scotland over a six-year period included both quantitative and qualitative methods, targeted schools, local authorities and a range of Travellers representing different groups, life-styles and generations. The reality of disrupted learning for schools and for Travellers is revealed. For thosewho do access schools and attend regularly there are still many covert barriers to successful learning. Such institutional discrimination has not previously been researched and is hardly acknowledged, yet makes a significant contribution to Travellers' success or failure in school. The mismatch between these pupils' particular learning needs and the provision made for a settled, local community offers a paradigm for many other interrupted learners: reduced selfesteem, demotivation, disaffection and eventual dropout for some.The essentially excluding school system and the self-excluding Traveller pupil (parental condoned absence) conspire to perpetuate cycles of underachievement and marginalization, confirming their social exclusion within society. Yet, at a grass roots level, innovative projects and approaches are being developed on an ad hoc basis. At the European level, particular emphasis is put on the need for open and Distance Learning to support Travellers. The lack of state funded-support for out of school learning does little to engage Travellers with learning. The findings are described and analysed within the broader framework of the literature and practices in this area in Europe and Australia.

Keywords: ABSENTEEISM; INSTITUTIONAL EXCLUSION; INTERRUPTED LEARNERS; TRAVELLERS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00131880110051128

Publication date: June 1, 2001

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