Saturday, November 7, 2009
SCHOOLS IN ENGLAND
Gypsy liaison officers 'in all schools'
All secondary schools should have a teacher trained to support pupils from Gypsy families, according to a Government-backed report.
By Graeme Paton, Education Editor
Published: 6:10PM GMT 06 Nov 2009
They should be more lenient towards pupils’ homework and behaviour to increase their confidence and boost standards, it was recommended.
The study, published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, also called for staff to attend traveller events, celebrate key events in their history and show sensitivity towards potentially contentious issues such as sex education.
Researchers said the measures were needed to boost standards among the 9,000 pupils from Gypsy, Roma and traveller families.
Children are significantly more likely to be expelled from school and are officially the worst-performing group in public examinations, it was disclosed.
The study said that schools that “developed a reputation for being caring and understanding of traveller culture” were more likely to get children interested in education.
But the suggestions were criticised by the TaxPayers’ Alliance which said resources would be better spent.
It comes after it was disclosed that police had produced a DVD to tell officers gipsies were not “tax-dodging thieves”. The £15,000 training film, funded by Surrey Police, and distributed to other forces, was intended to dispel myths surrounding travellers.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families insisted they had a duty to boost standards among minority groups.
“'For Roma pupils, having a member of staff who could speak their language and demonstrate good insight into their cultural experiences was comforting for pupils and their parents,” the study said.
The report, from the National Foundation for Educational Research and the Inner London Traveller Education Consortium, recommended allocating a member of staff as a Gypsy liaison officer in all 3,200 secondary schools in England.
It said just 290 pupils were classified as “gifted” by teachers and they were four times more likely to be expelled from school. Only seven per cent of Gypsy, Roma and traveller pupils gained five good GCSEs, including English and maths, last year compared with almost half of teenagers nationally.
The latest study suggested teachers should consider giving their mobile phone numbers to families and make home visits. It also said staff should be more “flexible” with homework.
“Particularly valued by parents were secondary schools that offer a flexible, work-related curriculum which was seen as more relevant to traveller lifestyles and cultural expectations,” the study said. “A more flexible approach to homework was appreciated by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils and their families.”
But a DCSF spokesman said: “We’re crystal clear that teachers must take a tough line on bad behaviour and doing homework, regardless of pupils’ background – no ifs or buts.
“This report doesn’t actually say that schools should go soft on traveller families – it highlights some schools which agreed specific behaviour rules direct with traveller families or offered additional homework club facilities on site.”
Matthew Elliott, from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the Government had “more important things to invest taxpayers’ money in than gypsy liaison officers”.
“This will amount to a lot of money spent on a very fringe group, it would be far better spent on teachers and text books that would benefit all pupils, regardless of their social background,” he said.
Posted by Morgan at 4:57 PM