Topic briefing

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities

Last updated: 20 June 2022

Effective practice advice

Available research indicates that schools and higher education providers have important roles in supporting Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people to access higher education, both individually and collaboratively.

In the video below, Sherrie Smith, a Romani Gypsy, talks about her experience of higher education and what providers can do to support more people from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities to access and have a good experience of higher education.

Much of the practice in this area is at an early stage. However, below are examples of ways in which providers can support these groups of students:

1. Tackle racism and discrimination

Schools and providers should work to eliminate racism and discrimination in schools and higher education by recognising, acknowledging and challenging these occurrences.

Processes, such as admissions, can be examined to ensure they are not discriminatory and that support is available for students, such as diversity champions.

2. Improve data on race and ethnicity

Providers should address concerns people may have about disclosing their ethnicity by building trust, having open and honest conversations and acting on any concerns highlighted.

Additional categories can be provided for people to select from, for example by adding ‘Roma’ if this does not feature in existing data collection tools.

3. Provide information, advice, guidance and outreach activities

Schools should implement these activities from a young age to generate enthusiasm and interest in higher education early on.

Access and participation activities should be informed by understanding barriers to education.

4. Support home education

Low levels of school attendance and high rates of exclusion from school are indicated for Gypsy, Roma and Irish Traveller pupils.

Higher education providers can work with local authorities and schools to support parents who choose to educate their children at home to do so effectively and ensure they have access to higher education outreach activities.

5. Provide staff training

Schools and providers should ensure that staff receive training to increase their understanding of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people, their culture and norms, and ensure that staff are sensitive and respectful in the way they communicate.

Training and support available to staff can be reflected in school and higher education provider policies.

6. Review the curriculum

The higher education and school curriculum should be reviewed to include issues relevant to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

7. Enable distance learning

This can be helpful for learners who are frequently on the move. Providers should ensure students taking up this option have access to the necessary tools, such as appropriate technology, and that they can access the wider higher education community.

8. Take the GTRSB into Higher Education Pledge

Schools and providers should take this pledge to help create an open and welcoming environment for students and potential students from Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen and Boater (GTRSB) communities.

Published 27 July 2020
Last updated 01 December 2020
01 December 2020
Added GTRSB into Higher Education Pledge

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