A background to change
An education that privileges one child over another is giving the privileged child a corrupted education, even as it gives him or her, a social or economic advantage. (Connell 1993, p15)
This assignment will be a critical and analytical report on the educational provision for traveller children in my setting and how as part of my role I am involved in developing links with the traveller community.
Reflecting on my practice I will show how my values of social justice and equality compels me to engage in social and educational practices that ensure that no child is privileged at the expense of minority or marginalised groups. My setting has an ethos of equality of ...view middle of the document...
As the role of Learning Mentor (LM) was introduced into my setting, one of the challenges that the school had was poor attendance of the traveller children and how much on the fringes of our school community they were; even though the school is situated along the road from a large traveller site. I focused my attentions on developing links with the families and building bridges of trust with this very insular community. Changes cannot happen in any organisation without some changes in behaviour from the people directly involved in the change and this in itself can be a challenge Dalin (1993). At the heart of any change must be the pupil, what benefit will there be for them also what if any will the drawbacks be.
It may be reasonable to assume that, by acknowledging the value and importance of Traveller culture, schools have the potential to change Traveller children's experience of education to a more positive and life-enhancing one. At a more immediate and practical level, such a stance by Educational Institutions could result in an improvement in the attendance rates of Traveller children; thus driving their aspirations of progression to secondary education which at best is a rarity. Most families still opt for home tutoring at the end of primary education. Such improvements should be regarded as providing positive outcomes, from the point of view that, under the conditions of such affirmative action, Traveller families maybe would no longer feel alienated from the educational system, and could begin to reap its benefits and to prosper from its potential to provide them with experiences.
In seeking to find ways of encouraging Traveller children to remain in the educational system, the head teacher wanted to develop awareness with the Traveller community of how institutions can help and support them with services such as a specialist learning support teacher in a one to one setting. I realised also that there was little or no recognition of the fact that Travellers have a separate culture, and a separate identity, from that of the majority within the school setting. Gillborn (1995) recognises the link between culture and identity when he refers to ethnicity as ‘a people’s sense and expression of a particular cultural identity’ (1995, p. 84). Both Willis (1977) and Fagan (1995) describe how an educational system that reproduces the inequalities of society, and replicates its class system, contributes to the problem of early school leaving. I would argue that the lack of community cohesion between the culture of the school and the culture of the Traveller community has a similar effect on the retention of Traveller children in the educational system. Many older Travellers have a negative memory of their time at school, I know this because I have had numerous discussions with mothers and grandmothers about their experiences of school and of those that did attend school the majority felt let down by a system that at the time felt it...