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Government report finds Gypsy Travellers particularly hindered in UK schools

15 July 1999

In March 1999, the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) of the United Kingdom government published a report on the achievement of minority groups in the education system. In an environment of claims and counter-claims of institutionalised racism in almost every sector of British society, the report was apparently unique in considering Gypsy Travellers to be one of the key disadvantaged groups. Moreover, of the four minority groups specifically examined - Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean, Pakistani and Gypsy Travellers - the report held that „the level of hostility faced by Gypsy Traveller children is probably greater than for any other minority ethnic group." In two of the primary schools and all of the secondary schools examined where Romani pupils were enrolled over half of them were on the Special Educational Needs register, a list of students with special educational needs. The report also noted that teachers have especially low expectations of Romani pupils. However, the positive role played by the Traveller Education Service - a service which exists to support the educational needs of Travellers, particularly in encouraging attendance and improving relationships with parents, was underlined in the report, and one of the key findings of the report was that „The schools in which minority ethnic pupils flourish understand the hostility these pupils often face (especially Gypsy Travellers)". On June 6, M2 Presswire reported that the Schools Minister, speaking at a conference on „Inclusive Schools" in London, had stressed the importance of partnership with parents in improving the education of ethnic minority pupils. He reportedly informed the conference that the Department of Health had produced a video aimed at increasing school attendance among Romani pupils.

In other British news, Professor of Romani Studies at the University of Greenwich Dr Thomas Acton reported to Romnet on March 26 that an English Romani family had won an appeal case to acquire planning permission to remain camped on land that they owned. Dr Acton considered this a particularly important victory as it would enable the family to camp legally, and the children to attend the local school. On April 12, former Member of Parliament Roy Hattersley reported in a letter to the British daily The Guardian that he had received a letter from a vicar in Worcestershire, central England. In the letter, the vicar told of being stopped by police when driving his car who, after demanding all of his documents, reportedly said to him, „We are after Gypsies. You would not believe what they get up to."

(BBC Online, ERRC, The Guardian, M2 Presswire, Romnet, The Times)

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ERRC submission to UN HRC on Hungary (February 2018)

14 February 2018

Written Comments of the European Roma Rights Centre concerning Hungary to the UN Human Rights Committee for consideration at its 122nd session (12 Narch - 6 April 2018).

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The Fragility of Professional Competence: A Preliminary Account of Child Protection Practice with Romani and Traveller Children in England

24 January 2018

Romani and Traveller children in England are much more likely to be taken into state care than the majority population, and the numbers are rising. Between 2009 and 2016 the number of Irish Travellers in care has risen by 400% and the number of Romani children has risen 933%. The increases are not consistent with national trends, and when compared to population data, suggest that Romani and Traveller children living in the UK could be 3 times more likely be taken into public care than any other child. 

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Families Divided: Romani and Egyptian Children in Albanian Institutions

21 November 2017

There’s a high percentage of Romani and Egyptian children in children’s homes in Albania – a disproportionate number. These children are often put into institutions because of poverty, and then find it impossible ever to return to their families. Because of centuries of discrimination Roma and Egyptians in Albania are less likely to live in adequate housing, less likely to be employed and more likely to feel the effects of extreme poverty.

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