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Teachers’ “entrenched” attitudes could lead them to write off Gypsy, Roma and Irish Traveller children, “enabling prejudice to continue”, MPs have said.

A recent MPs report shows that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) people have the worst outcomes of any ethnic group across a huge range of areas, including education, health, employment, criminal justice and hate crime, and GRT communities are being ‘comprehensively failed’, by government cites the BBC in recently published article.

Gypsy, Roma and Travellers (GRT) are a vastly under-represented group in higher education with estimates suggesting that less than 1% of young people go on to university in the UK. Pupils have higher overall absence rates than any other ethnic group in England and the lowest average attainment score at KS4 according to the Department for Education.

The Sussex Learning Network is looking at this issue as part of a pilot project through their National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP).  Run in collaboration across the University of Sussex, Hailsham Community College and Families, Friends and Travellers, the project seeks to explore and challenge some of these issues faced by GRT young people as they progress through their secondary education in Sussex. It will provide a form of continual professional development for teacher and education professionals around some of the barriers faced by GRT pupils. The project will also offer young people and their families tailored outreach specifically targeted to their needs, and to gather evidence about both challenges faced, and practical solutions for schools, universities and community organisations.

This project is focused in Hailsham Community College, a secondary school which has the highest proportion of GRT learners in the county. It is also a target school for the network with 50% of learners eligible for funding within the NCOP initiative.

This project is one of 15 funded through the networks’ specialist stream of  ‘Innovation Funds’ which invites collaborative bids from educational providers and community groups to deliver outreach activity targeted at some of our more vulnerable learners across Sussex. The fund helps to explore and understand some of the barriers these young people might be facing in their educational journey by harnessing local, and more specialised community knowledge.

Disseminating research findings and sharing best practice is a key output of our innovation fund where more recently, the OfS cited some of our research carried out by our Refugee Background Status programme that was funded last year.

For further information please email our Innovation Fund Project Manager, Debra Vice-Holt