a background to 'Many Cultures, Many Histories'

The Road Ahead:
Promoting social and educational equality for
Roma and other minority ethnic groups.
A selection of work from Project Romipen,
(an EU sponsored Socrates programme).
June 2002
Introductory poem
( Roma poet Leksa Manus)
Chapter One
Introduction: demographic and cultural change in Europe
Peter D'Sena and Frank Barrett (Leeds).
Chapter Two
History, Culture, Racism and Literature: a background to ‘Many Cultures, Many Histories’
Peter D'Sena (Leeds)
Chapter Three
Addressing educational issues of Romany and other ethnic minority people in Leeds:
background and training programmes.
Frank Barrett (Leeds)
Chapter Four
A Pocket-guidebook for Romany counsellors in the Czech and Slovak Republics
Romipen project team (Ostrava)
Chapter Five
Intercultural education and teacher training in Italy
Beniamino Caputo (Venice)
Chapter 6
Researching Traveller Education in the UK: an example from Leeds
Nancy McAndrew and Frank Barrett (Leeds)
Chapter 7
Examples of work produced from the Romipen university courses in Leeds.
Case study: providing educational support for a Traveller family in Leeds, UK
Nancy McAndrew (Leeds)
Promoting the Achievement of minority ethnic pupils through parental involvement
Johara Begum (Leeds)
Poem by Roma poet Jimmy Storey
Select Bibliography
This booklet contains a selection of the material produced by the curriculum working
group within the EU sponsored project Romipen (a two year long project within the
Socrates programme).The aims of this project include:
- To promote equal opportunities for Roma and other minority ethnic groups
- To combat social exclusion of Roma and other minorities.
- To enhance Roma cultural identity
To disseminate cultural and historical knowledge of Roma
The project consisted of partners from six countries across the EU and the
"accession" countries (the Czech and Slovak Republics, Italy, Germany, Greece, The
Netherlands and the United Kingdom). Three of the partners contributed to this
particular section of the project focusing on curriculum development in the training
of teachers, social workers and other specialists - namely, Leeds Metropolitan
University, the Centrom Group from Ostrava and the AGFOL Group from Venice. .
We would be pleased to discuss the full scope of the project Romipen and to provide
details of the range of material produced by the project teams on text and CD.
Frank Barrett and Peter D'Senna,
School of Education and Professional Development,
Leeds Metropolitan University.
The Roads of the Roma
Each night my God, as I close my eyes,
I see before me the roads of the Roma.
But where, my God, is the long lost road,
The one true road, the one first travelled?
The countries of Europe are riddled
With roads across Russia and Poland,
Lithuania and Latvia they weave,
They criss cross Scandinavia.
…….. From here the road leads
to another land where the Indus-river flows
to the land where the Kushans once held sway:
This was called Ganhara, or Roma-land, here lay
The estates of Sindhu, where our elders walked,
Performing great works in sunlit fields.
Further my road does not go: it only
Goes backwards into time, diving deep into
the centuries. Here five thousand years ago,
was a land of thriving towns, Harappa
and Mohenjo-Daro among them, a land whose peoples
lived as peers, the place where our travels
began. Everything started here. What used to be
and what will be converge at this point: at the end
of that first Romani road lies the fate of my people.
This is an extract from The Roads of the Roma by Leksa Manus a world renowned Rom from Latvia.
He was an academic, poet and author who did much to encourage young Romani writers across the
Chapter One
Introduction: demographic and cultural change in Europe
Peter D'Sena and Frank Barrett
A summary of the intercultural context in Britain
In terms of the historical context, it is important to remember that Britain has
witnessed waves of migration and invasion for thousands of years: there were Africans
here long before the English arrived, though it is true to say that the largest number of
non-European immigrants have arrived in the post-war period. (Travelling people,
who have much in common culturally with the ‘Roma’ groups who are the focus of
central European partners work, are composed of different groups, many of which
originated from Ireland and Scotland as well as mainland Europe centuries ago. Until
recently, they were generally known by the umbrella term ‘gypsy’).
Decolonisation, since the 1940s has led to the phenomenon of the ‘Empire strikes
back’ - peoples from the former colonies exercising their right to migrate to the former
‘mother country’. Since Britain had both the largest and most diverse empire in the
nineteenth century, the consequence has been, therefore, that it now has a very diverse
set of people as inhabitants.
The picture is very complex. The idea of what constitutes a cultural minority has also
changed over time and will continue to change. In the Leeds-Bradford area, people
from the Asian sub-continent form a significant minority overall, but a majority in
certain districts. In much larger areas, such as London, the term ethnic minority is
increasingly becoming a redundant and inaccurate phrase (for figures, see section 3,
below) because of ‘hybridisation’ and cultural assimilation for example, which has
been the result of long term integration and/or the growth of groups. Interculturality,
as for instance a third generation of black British people grow up into the twenty-first
century, is an idea that is seen to be a reality.
In education, however, certain groups of new immigrants have been identified to
suffer from disadvantaged: more black boys pro-rata are excluded from school (and
similarly, more black men are incarcerated in prisons); the exam results of
Bangladeshi children are well below the national average. On the other hand pupils of
both Indian and Chinese origin, achieve higher educational success rates than white
majority. Making provision for different groups is not a straightforward matter: there
are over three hundred home languages spoken by London’s schoolchildren; and there
are more new children, who do not speak English, immigrating each year.
The population of Great Britain by region or country and ethnicity, 1998 estimates
(thousands). (Parekh, 2000).
Area of residence
African –
Banglad Chinese
East Midlands
Greater London
North – East
North – West
South – East (not
South – West
West Midlands
Yorkshire and
Total England
Total Great
Some newcomers and people of colour are also victims of racial abuse; and worryingly,
the one hundred thousand or so reports of race attacks reported each year may only be the
tip of the iceberg. Certainly, work by both academics and government has indicated that
Islamophobia and institutional racism are prevalent problems in British society; that there
is both colour and culture prejudice. Most recently, the Parekh Report (2000) (whose
findings we have shown in the tables below) has summarised that ethnic minorities
experience problems in many walks of life - education, housing, health and work.
The changing population of Britain by ethnicity – 1998–2020 estimates (thousands).
(Parekh, 2000).
Estimates for 1998
Estimates for 2020
African – Caribbean
White other than Irish
In the past ten years, Britain has, like the rest of Europe, witnessed the influx of a
number of asylum seekers. Generally, British society, if media representations are
anything to go by, has quickly formed a very negative set of attitudes towards them.
In some respects, there is commonality in this with many of the general attitudes held
towards Travelling people in Britain.
Growth of religions other than Christianity – 1960–2000 estimates. (Parekh, 2000).
Active Members
The general European context of the Roma
Although there are many minority populations worldwide that need support, the Roma
population in particular has become a major focus of the human rights community,
especially as it prepares for the UN World Conference against Racism. The majority of
the estimated eight to ten million Roma, whether nomadic or sedentary, live in Europe
and discrimination against them is often seen as a European problem, but Roma reside in
other parts of the world as well, including North and South America, Australia and India.
For centuries, the Roma have been subjected to ill treatment, rejection, exclusion and
discrimination in various forms. Racial discrimination faced by Roma in many ways
symbolises some of the most common contemporary forms of racial discrimination
experienced by other minority groups in the world. It is hoped that successful attempts to
address the issue of discrimination against Roma will benefit other minority groups.
In a report submitted to the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of
Human Rights at its fifty-second session (June 2000), an independent expert, Yeung
Kam Yeung Sik Yuen, identified the four main areas of concern for the Roma
population: housing; education; employment; and political participation. Many Roma
live in the most squalid and derelict housing estates and often live in Roma-only
sections, which has encouraged segregation from the mainstream population. The
proposed building of a four-metre high wall in one district of the Czech Republic in
order to separate Roma from non-Roma is a clear example of the attempt to disengage
Roma communities. Although the municipality's decision was eventually suspended
for infringement of article 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, de
facto settlement patterns with regard to the Roma minorities and decrees banning
Roma from certain territories continue to exist.
In the area of employment, Roma are absent from the service sector and are mainly
employed as garbage collectors or factory workers. The unemployment rate ranges from
60 per cent to 90 per cent in less prosperous areas. In certain countries in Central and
Eastern Europe, there has been a systematic routing of Roma children to ‘special schools’
for the mentally disabled. What is more, Roma have little or no say at the political level
as they are either unrepresented or under-represented at all levels of Government.
The Roma communities are subject to hostile perceptions across an extraordinary range
of countries: as the report cited above states, Roma are often barred from restaurants,
swimming pools and discotheques and they are often the victims of violent racist acts by
Of course, the news on the Roma front is not all bad. There have been initiatives that
have worked to considerably improve the condition of this minority population.
Regarding housing for Roma, there have been initiatives in Romania and Slovakia that
have brought together Roma and non-Roma to build houses, which has worked to stem
negative stereotypes of Roma as passive recipients of social benefits. In addition, the
Roma themselves have founded several political parties and movements in many
societies and have grouped into several dozen civic associations. The fact that
Governments have simply admitted that the Roma are the victims of intolerance and
discrimination has been a major step forward in some countries.
The search for solutions to the problems faced by the Roma has come from many corners
and the recommendations can be applied to all situations where minorities are struggling
for equal rights. It has been agreed that a key element is to establish trust among all
parties, including the minority community, the mainstream community and the
Max van der Stoel, the High Commissioner on National Minorities for the Organisation
for Security and Cupertino in Europe (OSCE) concluded in his report on the situation of
Roma in the OSCE area, that countless programmes for Roma have been destined to fail
because they were developed without Roma participation, and correspondingly, with
scant awareness of the specific culture and needs of the intended beneficiaries. The active
engagement of a minority group in developing and implementing projects helps to ensure
that they do not inadvertently create or perpetuate dependency and passivity on the part
of the intended beneficiaries.
Pre-supposing that an ethnic minority is geographically located in a certain area of a
country, a well thought out plan for autonomy may be appropriate. However, as Mr.
Yeun states in his working paper, ‘any proposal for autonomy must take account of the
particular characteristics of the area concerned and of its populations, and its
acceptance by minority and majority populations is crucial’. In such arrangements, the
central government retains control over the major affairs of the state, such as defence,
foreign affairs, immigration and customs, and monetary policy, while the local or
regional bureaucracy could manage local authority over education and culture. Such
arrangements can also help maintain the territorial integrity of a State while placating
minority concerns.
The Curriculum set out in this booklet has been the product of these debates and
concerns. It is mindful that each European nation state has similarities and
differences in ethnic and cultural composition. At the same time it has acknowledged
the need for education - not only of the young, but also the providers for the young
and others in the community. The following chapters show how Romipen Partners
have approached this in their own setting.
Chapter Two
History, Culture, Racism and Literature: a background to Many
Cultures, Many Histories
Peter D'Sena
The problem with traditional forms of teaching history in England
British school history has been largely about the white indigenous people and is
‘whiggish’ - focusing on the political and economic improvements of the ‘Great’
British. In the National Curriculum this is seen in the Unit titles for history: they
convey the first message: they give a top down view of the past, rather than a history
from below or history of a broader view of the past.
School textbooks have long reinforced these views: even at the end of the twentiethcentury some have promoted a hierarchical evolutionary theory based on colour,
while some, in the first half of the century, promoted eugenics theories, which even
emphasised miscegenation. The use of language, in the continued construction of a
cultural identity for the English described the (imagined) other as ‘barbaric’, as
‘savage’ and supported these phrases with pseudo-scientific evidence of inferiority.
The linguistic turn was used both ways: there was the ‘flowering of the empire’ as
well as the disorganisation of others. (Sherwood, 1998). Many more recent textbooks,
even those as recent as those produced for the first National Curriculum of 1990 have
maintained this heritage in their focus on Anglocentric issues. One outcome of this
(which is worthy of future research) is how and whether teachers, both subject to and
the product of these texts in their time, might be prone to the popular subconscious
and conscious racism which is one of the building blocks of institutionalised racism.
Schoolteaching in the twenty first century in England also needs to be viewed against
the broader societal backdrop. [Certainly, children see it that way; some express
interest in their autonomy and the relevance of their metacognition. (Wragg, 1997, p.
It was with this in mind that a module for training and in-service teachers was created
in order to develop an understanding of the theoretical issues associated with the
perspectives of, what is normally termed in sociology, ‘the other’. The content can be
flexible, according to student interest, tutor expertise and, of course, societal context.
In short, though the exemplar shown below is taught in the Leeds-Bradford nexus, the
over-riding idea is that it can ultimately be applied in any of the ROMIPEN countries.
A brief note on racism and Europe
Perhaps the crucial element of the module, is the spirit in which it is taught and
received: its ultimate purpose is to use teaching and learning as a tool to address
In the UK, in terms of colour, culture and class, there has been a rise in racism and
racist incidents: the British Crime survey stated there could be as many as 130,000
racist incidents in 1991 (Spybey, 1997, p. 157) and it’s a similar story in the rest of
Europe with ‘new racism’ with its emphasis on hatred of culture - ‘cultural racism’ as well as colour. Italy too has its problems in this respect, it has its own Stephen
Lawrence - the man who worked on the Ponte Veccio in Florence; it has controversy
over immigration and colour with the perpetuation of the Martelli Law of 1951 and
the ‘ideology of exclusion’ (Vasta, 1993, p. 94); there are the recent memories of the
Albanian flights in March and August of 1991; the tale of asylum seekers in southern
Italy; the political preference of defining immigrants as refugees; the regionalism,
especially between north and south, and that combined with racism: ‘Africa begins at
Rome’ is a phrase both used and understood for its racist overtones in Italy (Vasta,
1993, p. 92). France, Germany and Spain too; all share this problem, they too have
their own Stephen Lawrence. Yes, we are a united Europe: there are right wing
groups, threatening skinheads and graffiti saying ‘Stop Immigration’ in many of our
Sadly, the story is gathering pace. Right-wing parties are again gaining popular
appeal both locally and nationally European-wide, from Burnley in England, to the
Netherlands, France and elsewhere. It is a story that our teachers and children should
be aware of; it should be ignored at our peril.
Hidden from history
Until the 1960s where were women in history books? Until the 1970s, where were
black people? Societies’ winners normally construct history: in Britain and in many
other European states, history is a protestant white, middle-class male construct. A
key objective of Many Cultures, Many Histories is to rescue groups and individuals
‘hidden from history’ because for one reason or other they have been amongst
society’s ‘losers’.
One other objective is to challenge the assumption that people hidden from history
have no history. Much, in fact, has been written about marginalised groups – women,
black people, Romanies and others. However, because dominant forces in academic
circles and in society have undervalued it in general it has remained relatively ignored
and certainly underused.
The Romany example
There is only space here to discuss briefly some Romany examples. Today,
Romanies across the world are writing poetry and novels, plays and essays, and
translating major works of fiction into the Romany language. A small body of
literature, written in Romani and other languages, has emerged. In the last decade, the
output has grown exponentially. This new wave of literary endeavour has recently
found strong European support. For example, George Soros's Open Society Institute
has launched a new set of Romani literary awards in the categories of fiction, creative
non-fiction, poetry and Romani translation.
Coincidentally, three European
publishing houses have announced a joint project to create a European Romany
Library making Romany literature available in Romany and other European
languages, and thus reaching wider audiences than ever before. Virginia Woolf would
have been astonished: the Romanies (or Gypsies) with whom her hero Orlando
consorts in Turkey are ‘ignorant people, not much better than savages are’. They
were excellent thieves and bird-snarers, simple, intuitive and anti-materialistic, but
they had a horror of pen and ink; their vocabulary limited so that they do not even
have a word for ‘beautiful’. But even as Woolf was finishing Orlando in 1928, an
embryonic Romany literature had already appeared in Eastern Europe.
On the other hand, there has never been any shortage of literature about, rather than
by, Romanies. Ever since their arrival in Europe in the middle ages, references to
them can be found in letters and historical documents. Romanies appear as travelling
penitents bearing letters of introduction from clerical officials, a relatively welcome
wave of immigrants mingling in a medieval Europe where itinerancy was common
and acceptable, because local economies depended on it. However, by the
Renaissance and the rise of the nation state, the portrayals turn sharply negative.
There are European-wide decrees banning Romanies, some of them genocidal:
Romanies must leave or be hanged! Literary references also become hostile.
Romanies are portrayed as fantastically evil, scheming, stupid, dirty, dishonest: in
short, a societal menace.
English literature is no exception, as indicated in the above quoted work by Virginia
Woolf. From the Gypsy imposters of Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair to Dodie
Smith’s dog-stealing Romanies in The Hundred and One Dalmatians. Shakespeare’s
use of the word ‘gipsy’ has negative connotations, suggesting either rascally acts or
eastern lewdness (in Anthony and Cleopatra it is shorthand for “Egyptian”: a hint of
the centuries-old perception that Romanies came from Egypt). In Daniel Defoe’s
Moll Flanders, Moll’s earliest memory is of wandering ‘among a Crew of the People
they call Romanies or Gypsies’, who did not blacken her skin as they did all the other
children ‘they carry about with them’.
The imputation that Romanies kidnap children is frequently invoked. George Eliot,
however, inverts the superstition in Maggie Tulliver’s childhood encounter with
Romanies in The Mill on the Floss. Maggie runs away to the Romanies, but finds
them strange, dirty and terrifying. She has gone out of her depth. They do not harm
her, but the episode darkly prefigures disastrous steps that she will take in adulthood.
Jane Austen’s Romanies are straightforwardly disreputable: they make a brief
appearance in Emma as children who bait Harriet in a lonely lane. Mr Knightly is
warned about them as a neighbourhood nuisance requiring swift expulsion.
Later in the 19th century and into the 20th, the literary Romany or Gypsy became
imbued with the prevailing romanticism. The Gypsy Lore Society, inspired by the
works of George Borrow, was founded: its members were Victorian intellectuals
eager to learn about the Romani language and way of life. They showed traits of
genuine scholarship, skewed by a desire to defend Romanies not on their own
account, but as nostalgic emblems of a vanishing pastorality. Their interest in
Romanies sprang from their abhorrence of industrial change; the Gypsy was
perceived as innocent, superstitious and the bearer of secret knowledge. This
portrayal mutated into a literary Gypsy as rustic noble savage (as in Orlando) or
fortune-teller (as implied in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and E Nesbit’s Five
Children and It. D H Lawrence’s Romani hero in The Virgin and the Gypsy is a
useful antidote to a rigid social class system: he exists outside it as strong, brooding,
erotic, but essentially pure.
This welter of imagery, as it repeats and oscillates across our social discourse,
surfacing in films an TV adaptations as well as in jokes and ordinary conversation,
informs popular opinion about Romanies far more than any reality. Few people who
distrust Romanies have ever spent time in a Gypsy household, or had a conversation
with a Gypsy lasting more than a few minutes. Professor Ian Hancock, a Rom of
British extraction who is now a linguist at the University of Texas at Austin, believes
that social control of Romani identity is in non-Gypsy hands. His view is
corroborated by the Oxford English Dictionary, which defines ‘gipsy’ as ‘a cunning
rogue’: the word itself has become synonymous with generic falsehood. Small
wonder that Romanies today insist on either Gypsy with a capital G or ‘Rom’.
Today’s Romany writers, on facing up to this hostile literary canon, cannot afford to
be afraid of its Virginia Woolfs. Rather, they hope to challenge the predominating
view of who they are. Jimmy Storey, a Gypsy writer living in Australia, says he
wants to take his readers “beyond the myths and stereotypes and help them realise the
diversity of the real Roma world and bring acceptance of and respect for Roma
culture and identity”. Nicolas Jimenes Gonzalez in Spain writes to be “a witness for
the defence of my people and our culture and way of life”. Charles Smith, who chairs
the Gypsy Council in this country, aims to help Romanies “keep their identity as an
ethnic group, and fight against Romany racism, which is still totally acceptable in
European culture”. He stresses that the genocide of Roma in Nazi camps haunts
Romanies to this day; Romani writers such as him, Rajko Djuric in German and Paul
Schöpf in Italy address this appalling legacy in their poetry.
Publishers Drava Verlag in Austria, Wallada in France and the University of
Hertfordshire Press in England are the co-sponsors of the European Romany Library.
Bill Forster, the director of the UHP, explains: ‘Romany authors will have a chance to
express themselves and be read by readers throughout Europe. As the EU expands
eastwards into the traditional home of the Roma, it is vital that their voice be heard so
that the old stereotypes can be shattered forever’.
Many Cultures, Many Histories: a module taught at Leeds Metropolitan
(A course for teachers and trainees to promote anti-racist education. The course will
develop knowledge and empathy of minority culture through in depth research of one
specific group - such as Romanies or Travellers).
This module is designed to provide teachers and students with an opportunity to pursue
topics, both within and without the English National Curriculum, which engage with the
histories of non-European and minority cultures. Participants will investigate key concepts
relevant to the understanding of 'race' and racism in historical and contemporary contexts.
Emphasis will be put on independent research and students will be supervised in the pursuit
of aspects of historical enquiry of specific interest to themselves - which both address the
learning outcomes and, most importantly, the spirit of the module. The Romany and
Traveller groups, with their distinct cultural identity and their longstanding presence in the
UK, provide a clear example of one such valuable and potentially fertile case study.
This module is founded on the notion that discrimination is morally and practically
intolerable. Participants should find that the module increases their understanding of the
historical processes by which discrimination (particularly 'race' discrimination) has grown;
they should feel capable of constructively opposing those processes and contributing to
anti-discriminatory practice.
Learning Outcomes:
On completion of this module students will have:
 Demonstrate a better knowledge, in general terms, about the major historical events in at
least three of the areas of study listed in the indicative content
 show a developed understanding of the processes by which racist discourses were
created in eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain and also the concepts of 'social
construction', 'representation' and 'discourse'
 demonstrate a better understanding of the relationship between the concept of 'race' and
the concepts of 'gender' and 'class'
 feel more capable of researching a topic in cultural history and applying the relevant
concepts to that research
 feel more capable of applying that research to a topic to be delivered within the classroom
 feel more capable of confidently debating general as well as historical issues relating to
multi-cultural and anti-racist practice both within schools and in the wider society
Teaching and Learning Strategies:
This module will include a range of teaching and learning strategies including:
- a blend of lecture, seminar and workshop (using the Romany cultural and social setting
as a useful example)
- negotiated, independent research - designed to encourage students to make decisions
about their own learning needs and to pursue their interests with increasingly less
dependence on the tutor
- individual and small group work: students will be expected to participate in discussions
about materials (including Romany history and culture) concerning the module’s
indicative content
- seminars: students will be expected to play an active part in their own learning by
presenting findings on their research topic in a student - led seminar
Indicative Content:
Cultural History: Concepts and Approaches
The Ancient Civilisations of Africa and India: relevance to contemporary
multicultural Britain
Ancient Greece and Rome: the Emergence of Conceptions of ‘Race’ and
Immigration to the UK as a historical concept
Romanies and Travellers in the UK – a case study
The Rise of English Racism
Participants will be required to write an essay - its subject being a relevant issue in
history, negotiated with the tutor. The subject chosen must meet the overall aims of the
module, as expressed in the synopsis (above). In addition, students will be required to
write a shorter piece about the trustworthiness and usefulness of a small selection of
materials, on the general subject of their essay that can be used when teaching pupils in
Indicative Reading:
Acton Thomas
Romani Culture and Gypsy Identity
Fryer, Peter
Staying Power
Pluto Press
Klein, G
Education Towards Race Equality
Tong Diane
Gypsies: an annotated bibliography
Wolpoff, M
& Caspari, R
Race and Human Evolution: A Fatal Attraction
Simon & Schuster
This module was taught to qualified and trainee teachers over a three month period.
Introductory sessions gave students a chance to develop their understanding of the
key concepts; they were then given a chance to develop their own area for research.
Chapter Three
Addressing educational issues of Romany amd other ethnic minority
people in Leeds: the mentoring and school support staff modules
Frank Barrett
The historical background to Romany education
In the UK, according to Lee (1993), ‘there are about 100,000 Gypsies and Travellers’
of which about half are nomadic or semi-nomadic, while the rest are sedentary, or
housed, and are engaged in conventional Gadze employment. However, since settled
Romany families often hide their identity from neighbours and colleagues, because of
negative connotations attached to the word Gypsy, ‘there are no data whatsoever on
the size of the housed Roma and Traveller population’ (Reiss, 1975). In fact the main
source of information about England’s traveller population is the six-monthly caravan
counts that have been undertaken by the Department of the Environment (DOE) since
1978. The count taken in July 1982 indicates that there were over 9000 Traveller
caravans in England with 7000–8000 families making up an overall population
variously estimated at between 30,000 and 50,000 (HMI, 1983) but Travellers is a
blanket term which includes not only Romany Gypsies but other groups such as New
Age Travellers (Green, 1991). The last DOE count to be published in July 1994
estimates the overall Roma population in England was 56,677.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the Roma is that they are not only a people
without an ethnic territory or a national State but that they do not lay claim to one. By
not conforming in this way to contemporary nationalistic aspirations, they have laid
themselves open to the loss of natural rights as well as to persecution and
discrimination because being part of an ethnic group often ensures certain rights and
entitlements denied to non members such as Roma. From 1969 onwards, the Council
of Europe adopted a series of resolutions criticising the underprivileged situation of
the Roma and other Travellers in Europe and urging member governments to end
discrimination, improve camping grounds and promote education, health and social
welfare (Fraser, 1995). At the same time, the Roma, who were increasingly
organising themselves, held their First World Romany Congress in London in 1971.
At the Congress, nomenclature imposed on the Roma by the Gadze (e.g. Gypsy) was
rejected and the International Gypsy Committee, which was re-named the
International Rom Committee (IRU), became a federation of national committees
with a permanent secretariat (Fraser, 1995). In 1979 the IRU was selected as a
member of the consulting team on the Social-Economic Council at the United Nations
and became the legal representative of the Roma throughout the world and among the
member States of the UN. At the Third World Romany Congress at Gottingen in
1981, two important symbolic gestures were made. A representative of the German
Government officially received demands for compensation for those Roma who
suffered and died during the Nazi period and the ambassador for India presented the
IRU with a handful of Indian earth representing their kinship with the Indian people.
At the Fourth Congress in Poland in 1990 a project to standardise a universal alphabet
and writing pattern was presented (Fraser, 1995) to help encourage school attendance
and literacy.
Educational Provision for the Roma in the UK
By the beginning of the 20th century, when all children in England and Wales were
supposed to be receiving an elementary education, the Children’s Act of 1908
permitted the young of nomadic parents to attend school for 200 half-days instead of
the normal 400. However, this provision was rarely enforced (Kenrick & Bakewell,
1995) and even the 1944 Education Act was interpreted to mean that the children of
parents whose work required them to travel were not required to attend school full
time (Forrester, 1985).
An HMI discussion paper (DES, 1983) estimated that under 50% of the children of
travelling families attended primary school and, of this proportion, only a small
number attended regularly. A more recent report (OFSTED, 1996) claims that,
although the number of travelling children registered with schools has increased since
1986 there is still a difference between the total number of travelling pupil
registrations and those who attend school on a regular basis.
The Plowden Report (1967), which described Romani children as ‘probably the most
severely deprived in the country’, pointed out that ‘improved education alone cannot
solve the problems of these children. Simultaneous action is needed by the authorities
responsible for employment, industrial training, housing and planning.’ In the event,
action began both in education and in site provision in the late 1960s. Acton (1996)
reports on the first caravan school for Roma, run by volunteers in the summer of
1967, which ensured that some children attended state school for the first time in the
autumn of the same year. The following year the Caravan Sites Act made it a duty for
local authorities to provide stopping places for Travellers. However, according to Lee
(1993), more than 20 years later at least 40% of caravans in England have no legal
place to stay and, in Naylor’s (1993) view, up to 90% of Roma children in some areas
live on unauthorised sites.
The National Gypsy Education Council (NGEC), which was founded in 1968 and
chaired by Lady Plowden, comprised Roma activists and educationalists who pressed
government and LEAs to make better provision for Romani children and to take over
the work of volunteers. A test case in 1977, in which Croydon Education Committee
refused to admit a pupil (Mary Delaney) to its schools on the grounds that she was
living on an illegal site, caused the NGEC to join forces with the Advisory Council
for the Education of Romany and other Travellers (ACERT) to persuade government
to block this particular legislative loophole (Kenrick & Bakewell, 1995). An HMI
discussion paper (1983) confirmed that all LEAs, in the light of the 1980 Education
Act, are obliged to make arrangements for all parents to express a preference for a
school for the education of their children.
By the mid-1990s, according to Acton (1996), there were around 500 specialist Roma
teachers as well as many generalist teachers who had Romany children in their
mainstream classes. This increase in educational activity for Roma, as Lee (1993)
points out, was fuelled as much by demand as supply in the sense that the Roma,
themselves were increasingly wanting to master basic literacy and numeracy skills.
Traditional trades, such as tin smithing and peg making, were giving way to newer
forms of employment where manuals had to be read and estimates written. In
addition, the move from horse to motor transport necessitated form filling for tax and
insurance purposes and, access to public services, such as health, social security and
education, was found by claimants to be easier with some measure of literacy. The
Education Reform Act of 1988 has had far-reaching effects not least in its insistence
on the right of all children to an education. However, there are 104 LEAs in England
and Wales and as yet: ‘No publication gives detailed information on the extent and
type of differently organised provision for supporting the education of Traveller
children'. Similarly there are no reports providing guidance on the advantages and
disadvantages of different types of provision or any evaluation of quality or
effectiveness. There is a wide variety in the details of educational provision for all
children and an even greater variety in specific provision to support the education of
Traveller children. Local authority levels of commitment range from teams of
teachers working from resource centres to no specific provision at all (Naylor, 1993).
At the beginning of the 21st century, the Roma, because of their nomadic lifestyle and
their lack of a territorial base, continue to be seen very often as ‘illegal immigrants’.
Indeed, on 6 July 2000 a Roma from Slovakia lost his attempt to remain in Britain when
law lords ruled unanimously that he did not have the right to stay because people could
not expect asylum on the grounds that they were persecuted by persons other than the
State if the State officially offered protection through the rule of law (Ford, 2000). This
judgement is likely to result in hundreds of Roma who have recently sought asylum in
Britain being deported to their eastern European home countries.
For Roma resident in the UK, high levels of adult illiteracy, which is partly a
consequence of the Roma language lacking a standardised written form. Hence the
education of young Roma, in the terms usually understood by sedentary communities,
has only just begun as governments begin to assume responsibility for the education
of all their children. However, the motivators and drivers for change stem not only
from human rights’ legislation but from the Roma themselves as their preferred
lifestyle comes under increasing pressure from settled communities and new
Mentoring: a course designed at Leeds Metropolitan University to
promote minority ethnic achievement through individual counselling and
Current research indicates that the process of mentoring can be a key element in
promoting minority ethnic achievement - in a variety of educational and
vocational contexts. LMU has worked in partnership with Leeds Mentoring Service
(part of Leeds City Council) to provide the following course to train mentors - in
order to support pupils and other young people within West Yorkshire's multicultural
Mentoring varies from one situation to another. It is interpreted in different ways by
different people. It is important that the purpose and intentions of mentoring in a
multicultural context are made explicit.
Mentoring is:
* ‘Facilitating the learning, growth and development of another person’.
(WFAD – Mentoring Project, Final Project Report, 1995, Leeds Metropolitan
* ‘a way of helping another person to become what that person aspires to be’
(Montreal CEGEP, 1998)
Who is the Course for?
This course is primarily aimed at mentors (or potential mentors) who work with:
Minority ethnic and other students requiring support - in Leeds inner city schools.
Minority ethnic and other appropriate participants on Government employment
initiatives such as "New Deal"
Course Aims
This course aims to offer the opportunity to:
Critically reflect on existing skills, knowledge and expertise in mentoring and
develop personal action plans;
Evaluate educational theories and practice which underpin multicultural
education, learning and mentoring;
Develop competence in the skills and processes of mentoring in a multicultural
Reflect on and improve professional practice as a mentor.
Course Overview
Part one of the course commences with an Introductory Workshop where the meaning
of mentoring in a variety of contexts is explored. This is followed by the first
learning pack, ‘Frameworks for Mentoring’, which explores theories of adult learning
and frameworks for mentoring.
A further two-day workshop focuses on sharing issues, dilemmas around mentoring
and mentoring practices and on the development of mentoring skills and practice at
each stage in the mentoring relationship. The second learning pack is concerned with
‘the Organisation and Dynamics of Mentoring’.
Part two of the course comprises the major assignment which is a reflective practice
assignment, designed to enable participants to demonstrate the integration of the theory
and practice of mentoring.
Key Content
Theoretical educational frameworks – (work based learning, learning from
experience, adult learning, education in multicultural contexts).
Professional ethics, values and principles – (organisational cultures, values of
mentoring, anti-racism and equality issues).
Mentoring, frameworks – (support, models of mentoring, process models, good
Organisational and interpersonal skills. Cross cultural communication.
The mentoring relationship – (preparation, getting started, sustaining the
relationship, the ending process).
Approach to Learning
Although this is primarily a distance learning programme it does entail attendance at
several workshops where participants can collaborate in their own learning by
contributing to and reflecting on the diversity of the collective experience.
Two open learning packs provide a framework for the underpinning, theoretical
principles of the course, involving reading and reflection on individual experience
through a series of activities.
Participants are supported throughout by a personal tutor.
Both Block One and Block Two contain a formative assignment and completion of
the two learning packs is vital as this encourages acquisition of underpinning
knowledge and reflection.
The reflective practice assignment aims to bring together “learning from practice” and
academic theory and is designed to integrate the development of theoretical frameworks
with a critique of current mentoring practice.
The Award
On successful completion of this course the University will award the: Vocational
Certificate (Mentoring) (45 CATS points).
Raising Achievement in Multicultural Classrooms: a course designed by
Leeds Metropolitan University for bilingual minority ethnic Nursery
Support Staff.
The Award
This award – The Vocational Certificate - is designed as a key element in providing
professional updating and development for minority ethnic Nursery Support Staff in
Leeds LEA. It is a course within the Short Course Accreditation Scheme at Leeds
Metropolitan University.
This course has been jointly developed by team from LEEDS LEA and LMU in
order to meet the professional updating needs of Minority ethnic Nursery Support
Staff . The course team are committed to providing assessment for participants that
will link theory to practice and positively enhance both school practices and pupil
achievement. It will provide useful support to minority ethnic Nursery Support Staff
who work in a range of city schools and nurseries.
The aim of this course is to provide a means of accrediting continuing professional
development of minority ethnic Nursery Support Staff working within Leeds. The
course will update and develop:
 Student knowledge and understanding of the wider
societal and internal school environments - and
their implications for the minority ethnic Nursery
Support Staff the teacher and the school in terms of
raising the achievement of black and bilingual
 Student knowledge and understanding of the skills
required in multicultural education processes
including the use of appropriate resources and
related pedagogy.
 Student knowledge and understanding of the skills
required for supporting and assessing learning
within multicultural classrooms
 The students own personal development profile
Each cohort of course participants will follow a programme tailored to
their specific needs, within the framework provided by course
Course Design
The content of the course, the set tasks and assignments are designed to meet the
needs of minority ethnic Nursery Support Staff participants in terms of both current
practice and future developments. The course offers the opportunity to combine
attendance, independent study and the exchange of ideas with peer support. This will
complement the normal work of the Nursery Support Staff and help incorporate a
critical self evaluation of performance. This is a developmental programme that will
be of significant value to the participants the school and the LEA.
The aims of the course are to provide opportunities for participants to:
 learn in a mutually supportive environment that values the
experience of Nursery Support Staff participants and enables
them to reflect upon, their own experiences in a range of
cultural contexts - and to identify personal strengths and
 examine and understand a range of issues that can be applied to
improve practice and enable Nursery Support Staff staff to be
more effective practitioners
 develop skills, knowledge and experience in and, through
analysis, develop programmes of action that are responsive to
the learning needs of all pupils - and specifically black and
bilingual pupils.
 provide opportunity for Nursery Support Staff to gain
recognition of their work at an appropriate level.
Course Structure and Content
The award consists of two major elements:
 a short course element - based on key lectures on the themes of
education and cultural difference.
 a reflective practice assessment which involves the participant in
thinking about how the learning from the 'short course' applies to their
work in multicultural classrooms.
Participants will:
 Keep a reflective journal recording experience and
 Raise issues about how it can be applied to your
work in multicultural classrooms.
 Try out some of the ideas in the work place
Write an assignment on their curriculum
development / research
Teaching and Learning Strategy
The Reflective Practice Assignment is focused on student centred learning. However
there will be a one day preparation unit which will enable the tutor to act as a
facilitator in linking the work completed in the Core Element to the requirements of
the Reflective Practice Assignment and the project practice period.
These courses have proved extremely successful. An example of student work is
printed later in this booklet
Chapter Four
A Pocket-guidebook for Romany Counsellors in the Czech and Slovak
The Centom Group project team.
The authors believed this could be best presented and explored through addressing the
following essential questions:
How has the position of ‘Romany counsellor’ developed?
A majority view of the Romany counsellors.
The Romany view of the counsellors.
Maintaining composure - a professional approach (Jak se z toho nezbláznit)
Differences in the Romany and Gadjos' experience?
Possible misunderstandings.
How can we learn to communicate together?
What are the expected benefits of the project ROMIPEN?
How has the position of Romany Counsellor developed?
Romanies have been living in our society for centuries; most of them do not
assimilate with the majority community - and there are significant problems for those
in the Romany community who wish to live in harmony with the majority community.
Historically so called "social problems" associated with Romany communities were
addressed in Central Europe by the state government and local authority - but little
effort has been made to incorporate the views and the priorities of the Romanies
themselves. In the 1990s some more liberal authorities started to appreciate the need
to listen to the Romany voice and generally to improve the communication between
the majority and the Romany minority. In this way a number of informal
relationships were created, through which the representatives of the majority
community tried liase with Romany leaders: they wanted to familiarise themselves
with Romany opinion and to endeavour to find a mutually acceptable way forward. In
this way it was agreed to develop the position of ‘Romany counsellor’ and ‘Romany
assistant’ in schools and in government offices. The Romanies selected for this key
role were to act as liaison officers between two communities - and try to overcome
the barriers to communication and understanding. A Romany counsellor or Romany
assistant was intended to be a "filter", to remove a mutual misunderstanding and at
the same time a facilitator, to explain and expedite social interaction. Consequently a
Romany counsellor or Romany assistant must have an orientation and overview of
the culture and social mores of their "own" ethnic group and be able to explain them
to Gadjos - members of the majority community.
A majority view of the Romany counsellors.
Most government workers in social security and other offices have little familiarity
with Romany life, language or customs. They are not aware for example that
Romanies are not a homogenous group of one Romany nation - but that the Romany
community is a hetrogeneous group with significant internal and external complex
social relationships and and layers of similarity and difference. This is one reason
why some Romany counsellors find it difficult to gain respect and credibility within
their role - and is necessary for representatives of the majority to have some
appreciation of the difficulties that they face. Certainly trust can only be acquired
slowly, step by step.
The question of gender is also of key importance in considering the role of the
Romany counsellor and the difficulties involved within it. The position of a Romany
counsellor, requires a strong personality and clear leadership qualities - qualities
traditionally attributed within the Romany community to men. A female Romany
assistant or counsellor certainly has to overcome, through personality , education and
experience - a fairly high level of male chauvinism.
This brings us to the term "competence". It is common for some government
assistants to transfer any general problem concerning Romanies to the Romany
counsellor. In other words: "You have got your own Romany counsellor. You didn't
like how we solved problems, so now you can go and solve them together with your
own Romany counsellor." This dismissive approach is yet another result of many
years of distrust, difficulty and misunderstanding between both parties.
Certainly it is the case that Romany assistants are not specialists in technical or
professional matters; they are mediators and facilitators for inter-community
The Romany view of the counsellors.
Romanies often expect that the Romany counsellor will automatically support and
deliver on their claims and demands. They can ask uncompromisingly for a new flat,
for social support, etc. It is difficult for some Romanies to appreciate that all social
application and claims must be justifiable - and that they can't ask for some
advantage on the basis of their membership to the Romany ethnic group and that the
assistant can only facilitate and cannot make an award on their own right. Having
been given negative advice by an assistant, some Romanies can become angry and the
assistant can then become a target of wrath and displeasure In extreme cases slander
and smears can become the order of the day. Romany counsellors and assistants must
be prepared for a difficult and emotionally draining working life.
Maintaining composure - a professional approach (Jak se z toho
Every Romany counsellor must have recourse to a mentor or advisor, who can
provide professional and personal support.. After all, a Romany counsellor or assistant
is the buffer between the two communities in a tense and difficult social setting.
It has been reported that about 80 % of society in theCzech Republic and Slovakia
are racist. Whatever the figure the Romany assistant or counsellor is expected to
spend their working life alongside the majority community - who will often stereotype
them as a member of a strange, "and advantaged minority group". There can often be
envy with regard to the relative salary position of the counsellor. As mentioned many
government officers are prepared to delegate the whole responsibility for servicing the
Romany community to the counsellors, with the approach: "Well, you are now here to
sort the problems of "your" people and we needn't handle them or wasting our time
explaining things that are entirely incomprehensible to them. Many local government
workers are influenced by a history of negative experiences with Romanies and are
more than happy to pass on responsibility. The Romany counsellor needs to work
sensitively within this context, nurture the goodwill of all parties concerned and
overcome traditional distrust by patience, perseverance and professionalism.
Differences in the Romany and Gadjos' experience?
Many Romanies have a well-developed sense of social intuition and empathy. When
non-Romanies converse with them, they also appreciate the importance of the tone of
voice and also:
- Eye contact
- touch
- the warmth and intonation of the voice
In other words, as members of a social group based on an oral culture, the
significance of body language to the Romany, should not be undervalued.
Possible misunderstandings.
Due to harsh historical factors and the resulting poor communication between the
Romany community and the majority, there is currently a high level of mistrust and
prejudice on both sides. This is often perpetuated by negative stereotypes of each
other's character and life-style.
How can we learn to communicate together?
Now, we have tried to explain, where there are crucial barriers between Romanies and
the majority community in Central Europe, we will now endeavour to review ways in
which each group could enrich the other.
Although Romany and Gadjo can speak the same language they often do not begin to
understand each other. This is the basic objective of training programmes for Romany
counsellors, for Romany assistants and for social workers, courses where colleagues
from both communities can communicate and explain their attitudes and points of
view - with a help of trainers. In this context it is necessary to keep the following
listen and learn through empathy.
be genuinelly interested in open communication and in a
common agreement.
And these rules are valid without any exception for both target groups.
What are the expected benefits of the project ROMIPEN?
This chapter developed in the Czech Republic and incorporates experiences from
Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Poland. The objective has been to facilitate coexistence between the majority community and Romanies in Central Europe. In many
respects this situation is markedly different to that currently prevalent within the
European Union.
It is hoped that this work will promote understanding and
knowledge of the situation - and help form a picture of life in Central Europe from a
Romany point of view , together with those people who work with them .
Appreciating such social and cultural differences is a valuable output for a project
which aims to promote understanding and social cohesion across Europe.
Chapter 5
Intercultural education and teacher training in Italy
Beniamino Caputo (Venice)
In Italy, there are around 120.000 Roms.
The term “Gagio” (o Kaggiò) in Romanes Language is used to signify outsider,
stranger from the group, person that is not gypsy.
In Venice there are various groups of Rom-Santi. There are Rom Korakanè, Rom
Kalderasha, Rom Dassikanè, Rom Italiani, Sinti Taic and Sinti Veneti. Around the
city they live on the communal nomad fields on private lands, or in houses.
Each of these Romany groups has its own history and identity. Today, for certain
specific groups, we talk about semi-nomadism, although many Roma live in a fixed
abode - be it a house or a field.
All over the Italy, the identity of gypsies is in deep crises as many young Romany
people try more and more to imitate the predominant culture.
Simultaneous to this movement Italian society has made efforts to assimilate
Romanies on an ongoing basis. The current situation is that the majority of Roms in
Italy live insulated from the wider community. Physically, they live at the margins of
the urban communities - in abodes that lack minimal infrastructure. There is frequent
confrontation between Roms, on one side, and officials on the other. Recently this
has lead to Italy being accused of racial discrimination -an accusation brought by
European Roma Rights Center ( Annual Report 2000)
Responding to the challenge of a changing society - the Education Programme.
The intercultural approach
Our proposed curriculum pivots around:
Respect for "the other";
- Inter-religious dialogue;
- Multimedia and plurality of language;
- Tolerance and solidarity between and within social groups;
- knowledge of differences.
Intercultural education has been on the agenda for many years in Italy, with all its
implications for social harmony, for law and for the promotion of inter-cultural
We can look at the problems of teacher training in terms of four guiding factors.
Social tolerance and minority group empowerment;
A focus on gradual social transformation;
The need for organisational cohesion - the co-ordinated of policy across
education together with cultural and social services ;
The need for ongoing monitoring and evaluation.
If we bear these principles in mind we can begin to outline what we see as the
developing role of teacher within this social process.
What we need from teachers
What we need for teachers is a much greater awareness of interculturalism. Social
problems based on ethnicity, which were only marginal in the past - now occupy
centre stage in Italy. We now need teachers to be able to identify old and new forms
of discrimination, and have a deeper understanding of the problems of racism and
Consequently we need teachers to acquire greater linguistic skills, including the
languages ability to speak foreign languages, or at least have a greater sensitivity to
foreign in order that they can relate to children with a rich linguistic background.
We need teachers to be to understand more about the cultural dimensions of
knowledge; and to have an appropriate understanding of implicit messages in speech
- and in teaching the history and culture of our own and other countries.
We also need teachers to have specific skills in relation to educational failure.
Experience both here in Italy and abroad tells us that immigrant children are more
likely to fail and teachers will require a broader base of skills and techniques to help
them succeed on par with their peers.
We need teachers to master specific methods, particularly in terms of teaching Italian
to children of a different mother tongue. They need a vision of education which
encourages them to work productively with other colleagues. In class they need to be
sensitive to the atmosphere conducive to effective learning and to encourage dialogue
with all parents across ethnic groups - parents who should be considered genuine
partners in the educational process.
We need teachers to be able to talk to all parents who come to school, regardless of
ethnicity or language. This process requires sensitivity and openness on the part of
the teacher.
We need teachers who are proactive in this field; we need them to be skilled and
qualified, but above all we need them to tackle problems openly and constructively
within schools. Resources will always be lacking - but teachers can still do much to
solve the problem and to make the best of the resources that are available.
How to develop teching skills appropriate for old and new citizens
Basic teacher training needs to be renewed in the light of the above considerations,
perhaps by the inclusion of intercultural skills in University courses. As a quality
criterion; today and increasingly in the future, these skills will be required alongside
others conventionally considered important.
Experience has shown that some methods are particularly useful for the acquisition of
new skills of interculturalism. These skills are based on monitoring pupil
performance, in improved classroom teaching skills, in research and in activities
within the school which fostering greater professionalism. Teachers are not
technicians who need technical training, but professionals who need support, and
encouragement to meet the needs of contemporary schools.
Clearly a large number of children and adolescents in our schools suffer from
inequality. Among them, children from immigrant and ROM families, are victims of
specific forms of inequality.
Basic teacher training cannot ignore this fact and the current curriculum is designed to
address the problem.
The aims of this curriculum are based on the Decree defining aims for schools in the
French communities of Belgium.
We would like young people at the beginning of the third millennium to be
useful to their peers, and inspired by democratic values. (...) The society in
which they live (...) is pluralist, multicultural. This is an important fact.
Every school should act within this framework, which is incompatible with
any form of racism. The choice of solidarity is opposed to the notion of
"everyone for themselves".
Schools have a role in social emancipation and the creation of equality.
Many people know how important education is for equality. The role of
education needs to be reaffirmed.
The aim is to help children and adolescents fit harmoniously into their
environment and to contribute to the construction of an intercultural society.
This proposed curriculum sets out concrete aims and pedagogic principles for
secondary education
The training model: example
The curriculum is based on a number of pedagogic principles.
For some years teacher training has been based on two related aspects : specific
pedagogic practice for the children of immigrants and ROM and the understanding of
their culture.
These practices have been enshrined in a number of experimental courses, often
helped by the European Commission.
The updated training model can be summarised as follows :
INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATIONS (Theoretical framework of CohenEmerique)
First Phase
The way in
Phase II
Phase III
Process of
Acquisition of skills for resolving conflicts related to cultural shock
 decentralization, awareness of one’s own cultural reference points;
 understanding of the other’s system ;
 intercultural negotiation, towards a common project for the good of
ANALYSIS OF SPECIFIC DIFFICULTIES- for children and for teachers in a
multicultural school.
1 Cultural Decentralisation
 Define the concepts of identity, culture and the multicultural society .
 Analyse the different ways migration is being addressed in various
2 Understanding the other’s system
 Understand the other’s cultural and social system .
 Analyse a range of contrasting cultures.
 Analyse the specific difficulties of immigrants in Italy
3 Intercultural negotiation/mediation
 Practical exercises in intercultural negotiation
 Define the concepts of negotiation and mediation
 Define the different elements involved in a situation of intercultural
1 The difficulties of facing immigrant pupils.
 Analyse the emotional difficulties of the children of immigrant and
ROM families at school
 Analyse cultural identity with reference to migrant and ROM families
 Analyse cultural obstacles to learning.
2 The difficulties of teachers
 To be aware of the challenges facing teachers in multicultural schools
 Analyse the teachers conscious and unconscious professional model.
The third Training Phase is based on action-research by a working team. The
aim is to define one or two projects to be implemented during the school year.
The curriculum outline.
Personal history and history as the discovery of otherness
Personal history is an important aspect of education due to the many dimensions
involved (linguistic-expressive, emotional, cognitive). It also enables children in the
second class of cycle 1 to carry out a historical investigation … albeit rather simplified,
contributing to the building of an identity.
The recovery of historical memory
An understanding and awareness of one’s own identity and roots as the basis for
exchange with other cultures.
A way of opening schools and classrooms up to the outside world by cultural
exchange, not only for the children but also for the community. In the scientific,
historical and social perspective, bridge-building with the local community not only
gives children a cultural identity but also gives meaning to the learning process.
Carrying out all the phases of a project can provide a new horizon making
classrooms learning communities in which everyone takes increasing part and
contributes with their own skills.
The time bank
One of the most promising resources is the creation of the time bank. This consists
in investigating the skills of parents and involving them in activities and
subsequently the planning of projects, enriching the experience of pupils by providing
a broad cultural and linguistic resource.
Within this context networking with other cultures provides the opportunity for
cultural learning, decentralising the point of view of one culture alone and stimulating
interchange and communication.
Non ethnocentric history
For some years international experts have been talking about replacing the
European-centred teaching of history by model including the whole world.
One of the most telling arguments is the transformation of society into a multiethnic,
multicultural one, a feature of Western Europe, albeit at different rates and in different
ways in various countries. This is a social and educational challenge.
To increase our understanding of non-European cultures is considered a particularly
effective way of reducing prejudice and fostering mutual understanding between
immigrants and their new cultures.
The understanding of other cultures.
An approach to other cultures stimulates the understanding of one’s own: family,
social organisation, cities, technology… this leads to a non ethnocentric vision of the
Multimedia and the flexibility of thought
Using the net involves encountering many different points of view . It is not a
question of "gradually discovering the given, unchanging world out there, but of
deciding which world we want to learn about and which we want to leave behind – i.e.
it is the cognitive construction of the world"(Groppo M., Locatelli M. C., 1966, p.169)
As in the Internet, complex relations foster an understanding of how "different points
of view feed off each other in a virtually endless process
5. Conclusions
The outline of teacher training practices described above underpin the role of the
teacher as a cultural mediator - and put the case for specialist training in all key
aspects of this educational work.
It is imperitive that we make progress in these shared aims both within Italy and
across Europe. These are necessary steps which must be taken to provide an
educational service which reflects both quality and equality.
G. Tassinari, G. Ceccatelli Gurrieri, M. Giusti, Scuola e società multiculturale,
Elementi di un'analisi multidisciplinare, p. 174-175, La Nuova Italia, Florence, 1992.
R. Albarea, D. Izzo, Manuale di pedagogia interculturale, ETS, Pisa 2002
F.Gobbo, Pedagogia Interculturale, Il progetto educativo nelle società complesse, Carocci,
Roma 2000
Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione, CD ROM Educazione Interculturale nella scuola
dell’autonomia, 1999
Il kit multimediale "Educazione Interculturale per la scuola dell'autonomia" è scaricabile da
internet all’indirizzo http://www.educational.rai.it/corsiformazione/intercultura/default.htm
M. G. Dutto, L’educazione interculturale e la formazione degli insegnanti , CD ROM
Educazione Interculturale nella scuola dell’autonomia, 1999
Chapter 6
Researching Traveller Education in the UK: an example from Leeds
A Local Study - Leeds UK
This research is based on the work of the Education Welfare Service in Leeds - and it
focuses on Traveller and Roma children living on two local "static" caravan sites. The
families who live on these sites tend to choose the nearest school for their children's
education. Certain of these children do not attend school regularly (if at all) - and when
in school, the children can often display behaviour problems. This work will investigate
these educational and social problems in some detail.
At the outset it can be stated that the issues affecting Traveller children's education is in
many respects similar to those of children from any other cultural background -and that
the issue is both complex and varied. In order to identify and explore the factors
pertaining to these particular problems, both personal experience and empirical research
will be drawn on - before addressing recommendations for good policy and practice in
the area of Traveller Education in the UK.
A Key issue - School attendance and the role of the Education Welfare Service:
A central role of the Education Welfare Service (EWS), as acknowledged in Education
Observed 13 (DfES, 1989), is the management of school attendance. The Education
Welfare Service plays a key role in advising and supporting young people, families and
schools, by using social work methods in an educational setting and ensuring that the
emotional, physical and educational needs of the child, as far as possible, are met.
Taking into account some local differences Education Welfare Officers within various
Local Education Authorities (LEAs) generally act as a mediator between schools,
families and other local services to try and resolve attendance and other "social"
problems. In particular, with regard to problems experienced by Traveller children,
Education Welfare Officers would normally work closely with the Travellers Education
Service (TES) - the special section of teachers and support workers dedicated to
supporting Romanies and Travellers.
The Department for Education and Employment, as well as The Office for Standards in
Education, has highlighted the importance of good attendance and punctuality for all
pupils and the need for schools to positively promote both of these with pupils and their
families. ‘On any one day, 400,000 pupils who should be in school are absent. About
50,000 of these are away without permission. Generally truants do badly at school and
their achievement measured through examination results is far worse than children who
attend school regularly. Truants are also more likely to be involved in anti-social or
criminal behaviour, and it is harder for them to find and keep work.’ (DfEE, 1999b, p2).
Therefore, there is a need for promoting an inclusive education system that allows all
children (including Traveller children) to achieve their full potential - and inclusion
projects in this context can involve such initiatives as an alternative curriculum and
"Work Related" learning programmes. However, school attendance problems are rarely
caused by a single factor and in order to fully come to grips with this problem an
awareness of all the issues which affect attendance is essential.
School disaffection and the social groups at risk
The government has recognised that particular groups of children are more likely to be at
risk of disaffection, for example: Travellers, looked-after children, young carers,
African-Caribbean boys and children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. It is
important that these groups of children are given the same expectations and targets as
any other child and that the support available through, Travellers Education Services
and other social/education services, is accessed at the earliest opportunity. The Social
Inclusion: Pupil Support document states ‘Travellers are disproportionately represented
among children who do not attend regularly or who are excluded. Schools that have
Traveller children should liaise with the LEA and the Traveller Education Service which
receive a Government grant in order to improve attendance and achievement among
Travellers’ (DfEE, 1999a, p14).
Leeds Education Welfare Service makes every effort to address attendance problems in
the early stages amongst all school pupils (including Traveller children) and there have
been a number of pro-active initiatives in this area over the past couple of years.
Resources were made available to primary schools in order to promote good habits of
regular attendance, which involved both children and parents - at an early stage in
pupils’ school careers. A small group of Education Welfare Officers worked in four
primary schools concentrating on Year 1 pupils and families. First day absence contact
was seen as a priority, helping to raise the awareness and the importance of regular
school attendance and generally increasing the quality and extent of parent/school
The Travelling Community and their Educational Needs
Gypsy Travellers constitute a recognised ethnic minority group under the 1976 Race
Relations Act. Traveller communities include those groups, who have, or have had, a
tradition of a nomadic lifestyle - including for example Gypsy Travellers, Fairground
families, Circus families, New Travellers and Bargees. There are approximately 12 to
15 million Travellers/Gypsies throughout the world, with 3 to 5 million in Europe.
Leeds has a population of approximately 100 families still on the road and perhaps 5
times this number who have settled in houses. Within Leeds district there are two
official Traveller caravan sites, which are provided with appropriate local services.
These sites were built with government grants and the families pay £60 per week for
one caravan and £12 extra for any additional trailers. For this money they get a plot
for their caravans, a utility block, which contains a toilet, bathroom and a small
Supporting the school attendance of Traveller pupils.
As recognised in Social Inclusion: Pupil Support, Circular kitchen. Cottingley ‘A’
for 20 families appears to function quite well, Cottingley ‘B’ was built next to ‘A’ for
36 families, but at present only 26 families are living there. It was built without
consultation and has proved too big and unmanageable.
Families who live on
unofficial sites, which have no water, rubbish collection, sanitation or postal delivery,
can be moved on every few days or weeks - and therefore it is usually difficult for
them to gain access to education or health care. Whether or not Traveller families are
living in houses, on static sites or roadside camps, their family and social culture
generally remains the same.
The education of Traveller children
Leeds has employed teachers to work with Travellers since 1975 and a Traveller
Education Service was established in the early 1980s. Due to the work of the Leeds
Traveller Education Service the number of children, from a Travelling background, in
schools in Leeds has increased from 5 children in 1981 to over 200 children in 1998.
Regular meetings are held between Leeds Travellers Education Support Team,
Education Welfare Officers and schools to look at general Traveller concerns and to
consider specific individual cases. In order to co-ordinate developments across the
region, meetings for Travellers Support Workers, North East England Regional meetings
are also held in order to facilitate a sharing of information, good policy and practice.
These meetings also provide the opportunity to discuss regional cross-border concerns
regarding individual pupils.
Traveller Education - gender specific issues
Traveller families have a strong sense of independence and identity, re-inforced by close
extended family bonds
‘Although there is considerable variation in Gypsy cultural characteristics, there
are some common features which have either a direct or indirect bearing on
education. Gypsies have always maintained an identity which has been markedly
different from the rest of the settled population. In addition to long established
nomadic patterns of life, Gypsy Travellers have a strong sense of independence,
based partly on a pride and confidence in occupational adaptability and
entrepreneurial skills. Other features, also shared by Gypsies resident in houses,
include a sense of the strength and resilience of their community, which is
confirmed and reinforced by close extended family bonds. The central importance
of the family places great value on children, their care and safety and their
successful socialisation into adult Gypsy society.’ (Ofsted, 1996, p9).
. Traveller families can generally be reluctant to encourage their children to continue
their education through to the teenage years. The attitude tends to be that once the
child is able to read and write, they are ready to join the adults in their trade,
therefore, further education is unnecessary. There is also the concern amongst parents
that if their child continues to attend school and mix with other children they are more
likely to become involved in drugs or crime and grow away from the family.
Traveller males, in particular, do not always appear to see that qualifications may
enable their sons to gain employment while work experience within the family will
only give them the skills to maintain their present lifestyle, which can often be
precarious as far as earning a living. Many of the girls appear to want to get married
and have a family as soon as they can and parents will often allow young people of
14+ to choose for themselves whether or not they would like to continue going to
school. If the intention is not to continue to attend school, there is often a move to live
with another member of the family, sometimes causing the child to be lost to the
education system. They may also deliberately misbehave in order to be permanently
excluded, manipulating the system in order to be out of school and more able to work
with the adults in their community. It is clear that additional sensitivity and careful
planning is essential to encourage Traveller families to see the benefits of their
children continuing their education through to 16 years of age.
‘Many traveller organisations believe that some LEAs are failing to fulfil their
responsibilities in relation to travellers’ education and that travellers’ children are
being intentionally deprived of their right to education. The travelling community
take the view that authorities are unwilling to run the risk of provoking hostility
from the settled community by allowing travellers’ children into schools and that
many schools are in any case reluctant to receive these children because of the
problems they may present.’ (Swan Report, 1985, p746).
The school perspective
Traveller children tend to go to schools where other Traveller children already attend,
in order to find re-assurance and support from friends. However, there has been a
reluctance on the part of some schools to accept Traveller children on roll due to
possible attendance and/or behaviour problems. Within these schools there is a great
need for headteachers and staff to be better informed with regards to the Traveller
culture - and to be aware that these children have just the same right to their education
as any other child. Not only is there a need to educate school staff on the rights and
needs of Travellers but also to encourage acceptance of different cultures within local
communities, for example through school foyer displays and writing depicting
Traveller cultural events, such as horse fairs, family weddings, musical performances
etc. It is indeed very rare to see Travellers portrayed in a positive light in the British
media. They are often reported in newspapers and on television as untrustworthy,
dirty and a nuisance to society and it is hoped that in addition to highlighting the
needs of minority groups such as Travellers, the government will also help to raise
awareness of Romany Rights and Romany culture - and so help alleviate further
If given the opportunity and encouragement, experience has shown that many
Traveller children are able to prove themselves to be very capable and just as eager to
continue with their education as any other child. A Year 9 Traveller girl, in a local
Leeds school, is a prominent member of the school council and has proved to be
extremely vocal in representing the pupils’ points of view, particularly with regard to
bullying and racism. She has also been involved in setting up a survey on how
conflict is dealt with in school and how different cultures are tolerated. The activity
generated by this pupil has
had a clear impact on school policy and practice,
especially in terms of multicultural education and anti-racism.
The response of Local Education Authorities over the UK
During this research, enquiries were made to over 100 Travellers Education Support
Teams from all over the UK requesting information on examples of good practice. It
became clear, from a 90% response to these enquiries, that LEAs nationally were
experiencing similar problems to Leeds in promoting secondary education (including
an acceptable level of school attendance) to Travelling families. The process of
transfer from primary to secondary school (and the need for extra support during this
time, to encourage a smooth transition), proved to be a common area of concern. This
period of transition can often mark the initiation of a Traveller child into adult life,
which may also involve preparation for early marriage and responsibility within the
family economy - and therefore policy initiatives must involve the whole family in
order to effectively encourage and promote education. As in Leeds, the policy of
some authorities include funding the use of taxies in order to transport Traveller
children to school from council run static sites and roadside camps, which tend to be
situated quite a distance away from schools and not always on relevant bus routes. As
an alternative to enforcing full-time school based education, part-time education
alongside a Further Education college course or work experience,
seemed to be favoured within various authorities,. However, the general response and
concerns expressed in our national survey highlighted what appears to be a national
picture - of low levels of Traveller pupil attendance mainly due to secondary
education being viewed as irrelevant to the Traveller culture and lifestyle.
10/99 (DfEE, 1999a), the transition from primary to high school is a big step in any
young person’s life - Traveller or not. Common fears inlude that of getting lost due to
the size of the new school, getting bullied, being faced with harder work and getting lots
of homework. It is important that these fears are addressed and on-going advice and
support made available to pupils, preferably during the summer term before the move to
high school. Bullying or a fear of isolation, which can leave a young person feeling
threatened, by either their peers or school staff, can also bring about an avoidance of
certain lessons or times of the day when they feel most vulnerable. An awareness of
these issues is crucial for staff, parents and pupils in order to make any transition as
smooth as possible. A supportive pastoral system in schools is essential for mainstream
and minority pupils - along with the use of an appropriate system of rewards and
incentives which is invaluable in promoting good behaviour, attendance and punctuality.
Our particular pupils are likely to need additional support in school, when they have
been travelling and are attempting once more to settle into a new school. This
constant moving and reintegration into different schools can have a detrimental effect
on any child, when they are in a position of having to get used to new buildings,
teachers and friends.
There can also often be lengthy periods of time between
stopping attending the previous school and being enroled at the receiving school. It is
quite common for some children to miss out on the "statementing" process due to not
being in school regularly. Any behaviour concerns are then likely to escalate if the
necessary support in school is not available, possibly leading to exclusions or a
reluctance to continue to attend school if the work is too difficult to understand. To
help prevent this from happening, there is a need to tighten up procedures for tracking
pupils and thereby, hopefully lessen the time spent out of education when transferring
Policy initiatives.
Some pupils reach a stage where full-time school is not always the most appropriate
form of education. The way forward could possibly be a compromise by negotiation,
between schools and the Travellers Education Support Team, to set up a package of
part-time education and part-time work related learning. Traveller families, like any
other family, generally want the best for their children, which in their view, is
achieved by earning a living as soon as possible and for this they feel that they need
"common sense" as opposed to formal education. It is important that Education
Support Services encourage and convince schools of the benefits of providing
individual learning packages to these pupils. Such innovative programmes can often
support pupils - whose behaviour and attitude towards education would normally
result in their disaffection and failure. Creating realistic programmes of study for
targeted groups of pupils alongside part-time placements within colleges and work
placements, can result in enhanced self-esteem, increased motivation and an
improvement in behaviour and social skills.
However, the whole procedure of
alternative education needs to be monitored on an on-going basis by all the agencies
involved - and reviewed regularly in order to identify if the particular package
remains appropriate for the individual pupil for which it was designed. Alongside this
it must be noted that some of the Traveller pupils who do continue to attend school
through their teenage years have been ridiculed by there peers- for not earning a living
and helping to provide for their families.
On an individual pupil basis an assessment needs to be made of the particular situationto identify what the main concerns are and to decide which service is best able to offer
the support needed. The whole supportive process needs to take place within an
atmosphere which is non threatening and can be seen as a positive step towards helping
and ultimately resolving any problems. Generally proceedings should be confidential,
although an exception to this would be any disclosures relating to child protection issues,
which would have to be dealt with according to official guidelines. The co-operation of
the pupil, family, school and other appropriate "agencies" should be sought within this
process of problem resolution.
To protect the continuity of learning for Traveller children, the Pupil Regulations
were amended with effect from 1 January 1998 to facilitate dual registration of
Traveller children. These regulations require that if parents inform the ‘base school’
that the child is going to be away travelling - but will return (or even if they know that
the child comes from a Traveller family which regularly leaves the area for a time),
then the pupils should not be removed from the "base school" register. While a
Traveller child is away, the base school must hold the pupil place open and record the
absence as authorised. Thus there is no need for such children to be removed from
the school register when they leave to travel. It is expected that if the they are
seasonally mobile, distance learning packages should be organised for pupils.
The government is currently highly aware of the problem of pupil attendance and
truancy and there is strong legislation in place to combat this. The Crime and Disorder
Act (1998) makes provision to help combat truancy and juvenile crime. This in itself
raises concerns among social workers -as for example, when a young person of
compulsory school age is found in a public place and is absent from school without
authority, they can be taken to designated premises. Given the already heavy
workload of Education Welfare Officers together with the reluctance of some pupils
to remain in school, there are obvious concerns within Education Welfare Services as
to which premises would be most suitable to take these young people to and who
would be available to supervise them. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 also makes
provision for Parenting Orders, whereby courts are given the power to impose on
parents attendance at counselling or parental guidance courses.
Parents may be
required to attend these sessions once a week for up to three months and there would
be an expectation that they ensure their children attend school regularly. In theory
this approach appears to be a way of ensuring parents are held responsible for their
children’s behaviour and offering them support. However, in the case of parents who
are uncooperative there is some doubt that such orders will work. It is important to
note that the methods used to tackle truancy are continually being reviewed in line
with the DfEE new directives and there will be much interest in the success of any of
the provisions of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
In some cases, despite many efforts made to offer support, the Education Welfare
Officer is obliged to take the matter of poor school attendance further. Leeds Education
Welfare Service has a very structured 7 stage process - which involves an assessment of
the family situation. Following this assessment, if necessary, a series of meetings are
held between parents, pupils, schools, Education Welfare Service and any other relevant
service to address areas of difficulty and to clearly define an agreed plan of action, over a
specified period of time - with the attendance targets to be attained. If parents fail to cooperate and ensure their children receive an appropriate education they can ‘be fined up
to £2,500 each under the new proposals, and this high penalty is aimed at challenging the
culture which tolerates the absence of children from school. However, legislation alone
has not proved to be effective in combating what in some areas appears to be an endemic
problem of school attendance and truancy among Traveller children and other specific
Conclusion and Recommendations
Education Welfare Officers attached to Traveller Education in Leeds have made
significant progress in working alongside Traveller pupils and their families. Working
within a multi-agency approach, there have been many positive outcomes particularly in
tackling the key issues of truancy. Experience has shown that support workers need to
emphasise the relevance of education to life outside of school and to encourage
teachers to acknowledge a wider range of life skills. Such eclectic skills should be
drawn on and valued in the school, both visually within the display environment and
generally within the curriculum. The judging and organising of young people, only
by their literacy skills, should be discouraged. It can now be shown that with support,
the self esteem and confidence of Traveller children can be raised - and with
appropriate measures in place within the school this positive image of Traveller pupils
can also be projected to other children and school staff.
Often many simple welfare issues pertaining to Traveller children are just not
recognised by school staff. Schools need to be aware that transfer to secondary
education is still a relatively new experience for Travellers for quite varied reasons:
parents’ fear their children’s exposure to drugs and smoking, sexual and moral
temptations, not to mention the problem of potential bullying. Homework may also
be a problem due to lack of space and help at home - which makes homework clubs,
held at lunchtime in schools, extremely useful in this context. Generally within
Traveller Education support, there is no substitute for time to communicate - in order
to build up relationships with the pupil, the family and the "named person" in school
who the families can contact for help and support. Traveller parents will often find it
less threatening to contact the school if they know that there is one person to whom
they can be referred, regardless of the issues involved. An Informal explanation of
school issues can also reduce problems as parents are often illiterate and do not
always fully understand school correspondence in standard letters sent home - even if
they manage to receive it through the post.
Therefore,it is strongly recommended that a key worker is appointed, from the school
staff,in order to oversee the attendance and general welfare of Traveller children.
Finally whilst acknowledging that there are no simple solutions to tackling truancy,
the need for the Education Welfare Officer, parents, pupils, teachers, LEAs and other
relevant professional agencies to work together continues to be crucial in meeting the
challenge of reducing absence amongst Traveller pupils. The aim of all professionals
working with children has to be to ensure young people are able to access the
education they are entitled to and thereby equip them with the necessary skills and
motivation to succeed as citizens in this society.
There is a clear need for further research on Traveller children accessing education.
For schools, support services and the families themselves, the proper provision of
Traveller education seems to be very much an uphill struggle. An important
development is that the Travelling community themselves have come to recognise
their changing needs in a modern society - and the increasing importance of literacy
and numeracy skills in a technological society. In order to remain independent and
competitive as a mobile workforce they know that they now need to add new skills to
their strong, traditional, family taught "life skills". However it is also clear that this
particular minority group is in
need of significant on-going support and
understanding from schools, the Education Welfare Service and the general
community - if this important "discriminated against" group is to access their human
right to a full and appropriate education.
Chapter 7
Examples of student work resulting from the Romipen project courses in
Leeds Metropolitan University.
Example I: Researching Traveller Education in Leeds : ACase study based on
providing educational support for a Traveller family.
This case study was written by Nancy McAndrew an Education Welfare Officer
working with the Traveller Education Support Service in Leeds.
This work provides an example of the approach used by the Education Welfare Service
in addressing school attendance problems within the Traveller and Roma community.
It concerns the case of a Year 9 boy (J), who has a Travelling background and whose
school attendance was 20%. J lives on the second of the two static caravan sites in
Leeds, which is the most run down of the two. J lives with his parents (Mr & Mrs C),
his older sister and three younger brothers. The older sister, aged 17, had stopped
attending school when she was 13 years of age and the younger brothers’ attendance was
hit and miss at primary school. Two years ago, the family had briefly moved into a
house in the area when a couple of the families living on the site were causing havoc and
behaving in a threatening manner to visitors and to neighbours. Mr & Mrs C had been
concerned for the safety of their children and decided to leave the site to live in a house.
The area they moved to mainly consisted of small, privately rented terraced houses.
Maternal grandmother and aunt had managed to get a house in the next street but spent
most of their time with J’s family in their home. This had been Mr & Mrs C’s first
experience of living in a house and they never really settled.
When I first visited the family, whilst they were living in the house, they described their
need to spend time outdoors, even if it was just in their backyard and told me how
trapped they felt. They also said they felt ostracised by their neighbours living alongside
them in the terraced streets and how these people did not understand anything about the
Travellers’ way of life. After living in the house for 9 months the family decided to
return to the site, as the families who had previously been a problem had since been
evicted. On their return to the site, all the family appeared much happier, even though
their particular site is run down and the postal service do not deliver to individual homes
but go on site and wait for the families to collect their mail. If letters are not collected,
over a two day period, they are returned to the post office sorting office. As the majority
of parents who live on the site are not able to read or write and most do not have a
telephone, the only way of communicating with them, is to visit them on site. Following
a number of home visits, when J had stopped attending school altogether, it became
apparent that J’s family were quite openly discouraging him from continuing with his
Over a period of time, I managed to build up a mutual understanding with the family
which resulted in Mrs C agreeing to accompany me to a meeting in school with the Head
of Year. This was quite an achievement for Mrs C as she admitted to being fearful of
teachers and schools in general. After an uneasy start to the meeting, Mrs C finally
agreed to J attending school on a part-time basis with extra support from TES to help
manage J’s behaviour problems and for the situation to be reviewed at a later date.
Towards the end of the meeting, whilst the importance of education was being discussed,
Mrs C talked of how she wished she had learnt to read and write. After reassuring Mrs
C that it was never too late to learn, she agreed to consider adult learning classes if I
found out more information on courses available at local college centres.
The outcome was that Mrs C did start attending adult learning classes at a local
community centre, but then stopped going, as she had to look after her elderly mother,
who was taken seriously ill. At no point did Mr C choose to take part in any discussions
to encourage his son to return to education. Despite some further short term absences, J
did return to school on a part-time basis. Staff from TES have been working closely
with mainstream subject teachers to help diffuse any problems J may have, before they
escalate, and a quiet room has been made available for one-to-one support if needed.
The Head Teacher has agreed to release funding for a part-time college placement next
academic year.
Example II: Promoting the Achievement of minority ethnic pupils through
parental involvement
This work was produced by Johara Begum a bilingual classroom assistant who was
born in Pakistan and who has had no previous experience in university education.
Having engaged through this short course - Johara now intends to complete the full
degree programme of study.
The issue of parental involvement and its effects on children's achievements is
important - certainly in regard to the current debate on raising standards within inner
city multi-cultural schools. This paper will explore these issues in terms of those
school policies which influences parental co-operation and pupil achievement. Some
of the key aspects that will be reviewed include : how we can break barriers to
parental involvement, the nature of such barriers and the type of programmes that
can be utilised in schools in order to inspire greater parental involvement.
In exploring these issues it is important for educationalists to understand the diversity
of multi-cultural inner city school and the background of children within them. In this
project I hope to gather evidence that will show how parental involvement is effective
in developing children's cognitive skill and how important it is to promote parental
co-operation with teachers and schools.
Parental involvement in children's education. Theory and practice
Parents (whether from the majority community or from a bilingual community group)
have an important influential role in their children's education and in helping them to
develop good language skills. During the first five years of life parents help their
children to learn language and become competent talkers - parents can also provide a
range of environments where children encounter and use language.
Parents promote and support the development of language in many ways. They can
act as a role model e.g. confident speakers of any language. They can make books
available, read to their child, talk to them and provide encouragement through
It is important that nurseries and schools fully recognise this contribution that parents
can make to their child's education and language development - and come to realise
that this is but one of many reasons for working in partnership with all parents across
class and culture. Certainly parents hold key information and can have a critical
potential role to play in their own children's education - if only they feel confident in
the school setting and if the education professionals make efforts to involve them and
take into account their individual perspectives on their child's development.
Children, who join a nursery or primary class for the first time, have already made
major steps in learning through interaction and training within the family. Thus,
parents play a crucial part in that early learning - and they can continue to be a strong
positive influence on the youngsters' development. Following on from this it is an
important aspect of the role of the school to explain to the parents what the school is
seeking to achieve - and so help them to extend their children's learning.
Such a successful partnership between the home and the school will enable parents to
understand how they can best contribute to their children's education. An early
appreciation of their role in this respect is often vital to securing parental support
throughout a child's schooling. It is important to note that teachers also benefit from
this - sharing the parent's greater knowledge of the child as an individual and from
learning useful information pertaining to their home background. (The education of
children under five DES1998).
Beecher (1984) revealed that " extensive substantial and convincing evidence suggests
that parents play a crucial role in both the home and school environment with respect
of facilitating the development of intelligence, achievement and competence. Children
learn at home and the home can nurture attitudes that are crucial to achievement"
(Henderson 1988 page 149).
Many bilingual parents already have knowledge about the school system and literacy
policy through official information and links with their wider families and
community. If teachers can build on this, it will undoubtedly have all round benefits
for childrens learning. For example teachers should encourage bilingual parents to
bring in literacy materials from home, and invite parents to write and draw with their
child in the nursery. This multi-lingual material can be used within the nursery
curriculum in a multitude of contexts.
The school nursery is usually the first point of contact for parents - and the
relationship that the nursery develops at this early stage will often set the tone for all
the other parent teacher interaction up through the school. Consequently it is very
important that the parents are welcomed and encouraged to participate from the outset
- and then throughout the child's educational future at the school.
The important thing is that whatever the contributing factors "parents encouragement,
activities and interest at home and their participation in schools and nurseries affects
their children's achievement, even after the students ability and family socioeconomic status is taken into account".
( Epstein 1986, p120 )
To further support this, Mayeshe (1993) identified three other important family
influences that seem to determine achievement,
a) Student and parents expectation for academic achievement;
b) The extent which families engage in activities to support expectations, and
c) The attitude toward hard work as a pre-requisite for success.
(cited in home school partnership 1987)
It is widely agreed then that students benefit in personal and academic development if
their families believe in the importance of schooling and let their children know they
value education by continually providing general academic guidance and support
throughout the school years. ( Epstein 1986).
This value in parental support does on the other hand put a lot of responsibility on
families. In launching Ofsted's annual report in February this year, the previous chief
inspector of school Mike Tomlinson, reported "that school and teachers need and
deserve better support from some parents."
In particular, Tomlinson called for " the backing of parents and wider community to
improve behaviour and attendance."
Barriers to parental involvement
As a bilingual parent I believe that there are some barrier between parents and
teachers, which have to be broken in order to gain parental involvement in our schools
and nurseries. Here are some of the examples;
Language and culture differences.
Understanding of the educational systems.
Difference in statusbetween teachers and some parents.
Pressure of time
Parents attitudes.
This is outlined by (Henderson 1997 p149) " There is considerable evidence that a
major impediment to home/school collaboration results from teachers and parents,
stereotypes misperceptions and lack of understanding of mutual needs." From the
teachers perspective - parents and their attitudes toward school create the most
frequent barrier, for example in the parent's unrealistic expectations of the school and
nurseries role.
Background of our nursery children
In our nursery we have children coming from different backgrounds and cultures, but
the majority of these children are British Pakistani's, and who's grandparents and at
least one of the parent came from Pakistan. The children themselves are born in
Although the majority of the children are born here they still have a big adjustment to
make, which includes the linguistic factors - either that of learning English as a
second language or of learning standard English as a new dialect. This linguistic
adjustment naturally effects the child in many ways in their educational progress.
The issue of the performance and achievement of ethnic minority children in schools,
particularly those of Pakistani origin, is a cause of national concern (as cited for
example in the work of Gilborne and Gipps 1996). This lack of comparable
achievement is a worry for minority ethnic parents and it rightfully currently engages
the attention of government agencies and educational researchers. It is important in
the interest of social and racial justice to know how exactly the children of Pakistani
parents are situated within the various selective and classification processes in British
education - and how they are performing and achieving academically at each stage.
Another reason I feel that it is very important that we promote parental involvement in
nursery education is to underpin parental responsibility. It is my experience that many
Pakistani parents perceive that it is the responsibility of the school to educate their
child -and they do not have to participate or be involved in the child's education.
In terms of school policy, an American study by William and Chaukin found seven
elements which they considered essential in developing a useful framework for
parental involvement programmes. These included written school policies,
administrative support, training, and ongoing evaluation of the policy. This research
concluded that a successful outcome would be such that:
" Parents can be seen, valued, respected and held as responsible as school staff
for the educational success of all children". ( William's and Chaukin, 1989).
Yet involving parents in school life and helping them become fully engaged with their
child's education is both complex and difficult. In 1988 the government recognised
this "vital partnership" at the heart of schooling when it legislated for all schools to
introduce home-schooling agreements. Since September 1999 all schools have been
required to draw up such agreement in consultation with parents. Home-school
agreements set out the schools aims, values and responsibilities - as well as the
responsibilities of the parents and what the school expects of its pupils.
In general it is clear " that parental involvement whether based at home or at school
and whether begun before or after a child started school- has significant, long lasting
effects" (Henderson, 1988 p151).
Schools in our inner cities have pupils of all colours, faith and cultures from around
the world. These pupils speak many languages and face different cultural and social
norms and values, both at home and in the outside world. In the above cited Ofsted
Review of Research on the Achievements of Ethnic minorities (Gilborn &Gipps1996)
it was officially confirmed what many bilingual pupils (but significantly not all) are
failing to achieve academic success in line with their peers from the majority
Black and bilingual pupils are presents in significant numbers (almost 80% in some
schools in Leeds) and often represent the majority of a pupils populations. The
educational needs of these pupils is therefore not a minor issue - and addressing them
requires both commitment and the development of effective strategies in order to
improve educational provision for those children who are currently failing and being
failed by the education system. ( Do children need Black teacher? Raising
Educational Achievement for All p 17).
How can a good Nursery promote parental involvement
A good nursery practice can promote parental involvement in their children's
education in three main ways.
1) Involvement at home.
2) Communication with parents on a day to day bases.
3) Involvement within the school/ nursery itself.
Involvement at home
Good nursery practice should encourage and support parents to promote language
development at home -and especially in a multi-cultural setting. The research already
quoted has shown not only that parents feel more positive - and contribute more - if
they are allowed to become more involved, but also that a partnership between
parents and school is seen to have a positive effect on children's achievement. Parents
can undoubtedly support their children by talking to them appropriately, by making
time to read with them, to share stories etc.
Importantly, Ron Brandt has stated that: " because we recognise that parents are
crucial to children's school success, and because we can no longer take parent support
for granted -then we as educationalists must take the lead in supporting parents" ( Brandt
Communication with parents on a day to day basis
Having day to day communication is very important for the parents and children as
well as the teachers. Parents can, in this regular informal way, be kept better informed
by the teachers, classroom assistants and others who are involved within the school.
For example the nursery nurse can communicate what is happening in school -via
group discussions or newsletters or by just passing conversation in the home language
whilst passing in the cloak rooms. Through this parents can regularly see what is
being done for their children and have a clearer picture of the child's performance and
the school's intentions.
Involvement within the nursery
I feel that it is very important that parents should come in and work with their child
and see how nurseries and schools are endeavouring to teach their child. They need to
come and take part in the educational activities undertaken at the nursery. Parents
generally have high hopes for their child - and consequently are keen to support the
child in achieving success in numeracy and literacy. " Some parents help their
children explicitly, they are aware of the literacy environment they are providing.
They may deliberately teach their children to read and write." (Weinberger, Hannan and
Nutbrown 1990). It seems sensible to acknowledge this fact and make it an opportunity for
home-school liaison. Certainly rather than exclude parents from the process of
learning to read and write at school, it is important for teachers, educators and schools
to communicate and work together co-operatively with the parents to promote the
child's language development
School and nursery should also develop programmes for parents to attend courses on
literacy and numeracy - where the parent could look at key aspects of the school
curriculum and how they can support the child within it.
Another important aspect of the education and communication with parents is to keep
pupil profiles and records of individual children's work , as a means of informing and
involving parents. I feel that the record keeping system should be a three way
process: involving the parent, the child and the teacher. Tanner (1978) noted that it is
important to let children play this active role in evaluation and setting of goals for
their learning "Both parents and teachers are more positive in their discussions when
children are present" (Mathias, 1967, cited Readdick et al ,1984).
In general therefore, the relationship between school and parents has a crucial bearing
on the child's educational progress and effectiveness of any school-based education.
Home visits
Home visits I believe are vital - as through this process the school can find out useful
information pertaining to the child and family. We can thus explore the origin and
religion of the family, what their "home" language is and whether the child uses
English or another mother tongue. Other key information can include:- brother's and/
or sisters who go to school, their literacy levels etc.
The teacher could also make an assessment about any books and reading material
available in the child's home and the skills and knowledge which may be available
within the family. Also whilst in the home, the visitor can explain to the parents how
the nursery approaches learning activity - and the key role of educational play. They
can also provide information on what the school expects of the parents - and generally
how they can become involved in school life.
As the UK Department for Education and Skills web site for parental involvement
" parent's are a child's first and enduring teacher. They play a crucial role
in helping their children learn. Children achieve more when schools and parents work
When I first started to work on my project I was not sure I complete this project. As I
work as a bilingual nursery nurse I feel that my status within the school system is not
high - and so therefore is my ability to influence policy change and development.
However despite everything I believe I have been successful in trying to promote
parental involvement in our school setting - most especially, for example, by
encouraging bilingual parents to come and work in our nursery's parent workshop.
These parent's workshop sessions were held on Wednesday morning and afternoon in
school and were most successful. Following these sessions some of the mothers went
on to join a more formal course at the local Further Education college. The course
called "Sharing book's with young children", offers the opportunity to parents to
learn more about how children learn from reading within the family - and gives details
of how parents can get credit for improving their skills in reading with children.
As a school assistant and as a bilingual parent, I feel that by conducting this study I
have a greater knowledge of the importance of parental involvement in early years of
children's education. I believe more than ever that it is important to promote and
support all (majority and minority) parental involvement in our schools and nurseries
-as this has such a positive effect on young children's learning and behaviour at
school. Through this engagement parents can feel more positive with regard to
education and go on to provide valuable support for the school.
In our particular nursery setting - the open door policy is working well and parents
have come to feel more comfortable and welcome - especially those who do not have
English as a first language. The parents are well informed about the topics and other
activities happening in our nursery via newsletters. All the information given to
parents is translated in dual languages, which the parents can read and understand.
By organising the parents workshop I found that many bilingual parents want to come
and take part in their child's education - but they need a lot of encouragement to come
and work in the nursery.
Through this study I also feel that I have learnt a lot about myself as person (and as a
woman within a minority ethnic community) - and feel that I now have the confidence
to continue my education and personal development and to extend my experiences
further afield.
New Rom
Who are we?
Roma without Romanes
Who must read
Our own history
In another tongue,
Follow the butterfly
of our own being
across maps of imagination
Trying to recreate
The lost structure
Of our soul?
We are your children.
You, who fought battles,
Traded metal, horses,
Dreams and tongues
In order to survive;
Who told the Magnificent Lie
And ended up in chains
As galley slaves,
Outlaws and brigands
In ashes and in lime.
If we learn Romanes
From books and not
Our mother's breast
It is only because
The long cloak of assimilation
The rubber stamp of jackboots
And the mask of shame
Almost destroyed
The butterfly's fragile wings.
If we travel in aeroplanes rather than vurdon
It is because
Our journey has taken us
So far apart.
We read the future
From the fax machine
And not the crystal ball.
If we reconstruct history
From dust and ashes
It is because this dust
Came from our feet
And the ashes from our bones.
By Jimmie Story (Australia)
Born in the UK he now lives in Australia. A prolific writer, his mission is to communicate to outsiders
the breadth and diversity of Romany culture. He is an active defender of Romany rights.
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