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 (Danvers 2016). A key factor to this educational trajectory is a lack of progression through compulsory schooling with GRT pupils having higher overall and persistent absence rates than any other ethnic group in England and the lowest average attainment score at KS4 according to the Department for Education.

Some of the main barriers identified around this education ‘achievement gap’ include experiences of racism and bullying and a lack of understanding of GRT culture by teachers and this project seeks to explore and challenge some of these issues faced by GRT young people as they progress through their secondary education in Sussex.

The project’s overall purpose is to both act as a form of continual professional develop for teachers and education professionals around the barriers faced by GRT young people in school, as well as draw together young people and their parents into an opportunity to experience a form of outreach specifically targeted to their needs and to gather evidence about both challenges faced, and solutions for schools, universities and community organisations.

The project will focus its work in Hailsham Community College, a secondary school which has the highest proportion of GRT learners in the county, as well as being a school with 50% NCOP eligible learners and will include:

–  Education workshops delivered using creative methods to visualise their futures and attitudes towards higher education

–  Use insights drawn from workshops to plan visits to further and higher education that meets the interests of learners along with their parents, carers or relatives and key representatives from the school

Visit(s) will be facilitated by GRT graduate acting as discrete role model and be captured by a student filmmaker. This, and a follow-up community event will help to produce guidance that will form part of a toolkit to be disseminated across other schools.

Project Partners:  The University of Sussex, Hailsham Community College and Families, Friends and Travellers

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