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BME/Gypsy, Roma and Traveller News

Parliamentary Questions on Ofsted report ‘ Overcoming Barriers’

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments. The following question was asked by David Blunkett.

Asked by Mr David Blunkett
(Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough)
Asked on: 17 December 2014
Department for Education
Education: Travellers

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she plans to take, and on what timetable, to respond to the report from Ofsted entitled Overcoming barriers: ensuring that Roma children are fully engaged and achieving in education, published on 16 December 2014.

Answered by: Mr David Laws
Answered on: 05 January 2015

Ofsted’s report recommends that the Department for Education considers how the allocation of existing school funding can be more reactive to in-year changes in pupil numbers. Local authorities currently have discretion to top up a school’s funding to take account of high numbers of pupils arriving at unusual times of the year. The Department is considering whether there could be ways to make the funding system even more responsive to in-year changes as part of work on funding reform beyond 2015-16.

Ofsted also recommends that the Department takes steps to encourage more accurate recording of pupil ethnicity. From January 2016, schools will be able to record separate data on Gypsy and Roma pupils, instead of the current joint category. It is anticipated that this change will encourage Roma parents to declare their child’s ethnicity accurately, which in turn will help schools to tailor their support for these pupils.

In addition, the Department will work with the its Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Education Stakeholder Group to disseminate the effective practice identified in Ofsted’s report and encourage local areas to consider what action they can take to improve outcomes for Roma pupils, in line with Ofsted’s recommendations to schools and local authorities.

Read the report at:

Primary Network Meetings for schools with Traveller pupils on roll

If you have Traveller pupils on roll in your school then you may be interested in attending a termly network meeting at either Apsley development Centre or HDC Stevenage. The meetings will be opportunity to :

  • Share ideas and information to help support Traveller pupils in their learning
  • Address issues around inclusion
  • Discuss local & national initiatives to raise attainment of GRT pupils
  • Look at latest research and DFE guidance regarding Traveller education
  • Review practice in our schools. Gather examples of good practice
  • Share resources that reflect Traveller cultures in a positive way
  • Look at how cultural diversity can be included in the New Curriculum
  • Share any worries or concerns

There is a choice of venues, one network meeting will be held each term at Apsley and one at HDC Stevenage. Meetings will be held from 4.00 – 5.30, refreshments will be available. There is currently no charge to attend the network meetings.

Spring Term
28th January 2015, 4.00-5.30, Apsley
29th January 2015, 4.00-5.30, HDC Stevenage

Summer Term
20th May 2015, 4.00-5.30, Apsley
21st May 2015, 4.00-5.30, HDC Stevenage

If you require any further information about the network meetings or any other issues around the education of Traveller pupils in your school please contact:

Linda Lovett, administrative support,

Kate Stockdale, Adviser for Teaching & Learning, Wellbeing & Vulnerable Groups,

If you would like to attend the January meeting please complete and return the form to

Traveller Network meeting form


Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Pupils: Supporting Access to Education

In September 2012, the DfE published the document 'Improving Behaviour and Attendance in Schools'. This report includes short case studies from schools showing successful practice in improving the attainment and attendance of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) pupils.

When you were…’- exploring cultural awareness through storytelling and the visual arts

During the summer term, Herts for Learning and Hertfordshire Music Service (HMS) ran a storytelling project in three Hertfordshire primary schools: Bedmond Village Primary and Nursery in Abbots Langley, Essendon C of E Primary School in Hatfield and Wormley Cof E Primary School in Broxbourne, with the aim of promoting inclusion and celebrating cultural diversity. The schools were chosen as they have a high number of Travellers on roll. Although Travellers were a focus, the project explored the cultural heritage of all children.

The project was coordinated by Kate Stockdale, HfL Adviser for Teaching and Learning, Wellbeing and Vulnerable Groups and Suzanne Rider, HMS Arts Education Development Officer.  It was delivered by two professional artists and educators: storyteller Mike Dodsworth and visual artist, Andy D’Cruz. The project was funded by the Royal Opera House Bridge, Heritage Lottery Fund and HMS.

The project ran for a week in each school. Pupils began the week with an introduction to oral storytelling by Mike.  All pupils were given a sketch book to help them explore and record their ideas. Andy encouraged them to think about the feelings the stories evoked and look at ways that colour and texture could be used to express emotions. They were set homework to become story hunters, collecting stories from family members about when they were a child.

Storytelling projectThe week ended with a celebration event to which parents and community members were invited. Two weeks later, celebrated storyteller and Scottish Traveller Jess Smith visited each school.  Jess shared stories about growing up in a Traveller community and in turn children had the opportunity to tell her their stories.

Barbara Young, Headteacher at Essendon, admitted she had felt nervous before the project began as the children weren’t used to public speaking. Her worries were quickly dispelled. “They really have embraced the project”, she said. “You can tell it’s going well when homework is greeted with a smile!”

Pupils certainly enjoyed the project. When asked about the most important thing he had learned during the week one boy replied, “my friends’ stories and most importantly about myself!”

A book of the children’s stories has been printed, and a film documenting the project has been made. Staff from Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies also helped children upload their stories onto the Herts Memories website, see:

A training day for primary schools has been developed and will be led by Mike and Andy, where they will share techniques and activities that helped make the project a success. The training day will be subsidised by funding from the project, and will take place on 20th November 2014 at Mid Herts Music and Arts Centre in Hatfield. The training will  be repeated in the spring term but the subsidised rate will not be available.

Storytelling flyer

Course code: 14BME/018P

Venue: Hertfordshire, Mid Herts Centre for Music and Arts, Hatfield

For further details contact:

Travellers' tale wins prize for debut children's authors

Infinite Sky, a story about Travellers and prejudice, has been awarded the Branford Boase prize for debut children's writers. The story centres on the friendship between Iris, a girl who lives on a farm, and Trick, a boy from a community of Travellers who set up camp next door.
For further details please visit :

Royal Opera House workshops for young Gypsy Roma Travellers

Damian Le Bas is working with Romany Theatre Company and the Royal Opera House on the upcoming series of workshops for young Gypsy/Roma/Travellers in May and June.

There's a really wide and exciting range of activities on the table which hopefully will offer something for everyone, from working with costumes to doing performances, painting, and lots in between. The workshops will all be held on Saturdays- the dates are 10th May, 24th May, 7th June, and 21st June. Workshops also welcome non Traveller children.

Damian is hoping a good number of young people will be up for doing these workshops, and the ROH have emphasised that parents are also really welcome to attend. There is money available for travel to and from the workshops for the young people attending.

If you wish for further info then please do not hesitate to contact  or Damian Le Bas or on 07846 970 127


Our Big Land, written by Dan Allum

 ‘Our Big Land’ is the  Romany Theatre Company’s new play at the Ovalhouse Theatre in London . It is a play with songs about the 2000 year history of Romany Gypsies. It runs from 18th Feb - 8th March 2014.

 ‘A fantastic opportunity to see an original play exploring issues of citizenship, identity and freedom.’

Please download the  flyer about the show and the excellent  deals for schools and groups wishing to attend.


DfE 22 Nov 2013: Michael Gove speech on BME achievement
‘The gaps in achievement between BME children and their peers have been far too large for far too long.’


UK Roma population one of the biggest in Europe

There is an estimated 200,000 Roma migrants living in Britain, new research shared exclusively with Channel 4 News reveals.


Equality and Diversity Calendar

There is now a monthly Equality and Diversity Events Calendar on the website at:

This may be useful for schools planning events celebrating different religions.