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IT may look like a typical village primary but Braybrooke has become the first school in Britain where all the pupils are gypsies.
The school has divided opinion in the picturesque Northants village, where residents have decided to boycott it.
Fearing their children’s education will suffer if they share a class with travellers, many are driving them to nearby village schools.
Head teacher Ken Sharman says he is proud of his “delightful” school but Kettering MP Philip Hollobone is horrified that locals are being driven out by the gypsies, some of whom occupy illegal sites.
Mr Hollobone, who has urged Education Minister Nick Gibb to visit the school, says Braybrooke must be “the only school in the country where children from the local village do not attend”.
He added: “This is not an issue of race. One of the big problems, especially in the summer term, [is that] a lot of traveller children do not turn up because they are travelling.
“A member of the settled community would be reluctant to send their child to a school with such a disruptive atmosphere.” The village has 325 homes and the school caters for 40 children, 17 boys and 23 girls, aged four to 11.
Ofsted rated the school as “good”, but said attendance was “well below average” because families were travelling in the summer.
“Attainment on entry is affected by this high mobility,” it said.
One resident, a 44-year-old builder, said: “We do not want our lad going to a school where he could start learning bad habits and running riot.
“We would rather drive miles to take him to a different school. The whole village has boycotted the school. It’s a shame but villagers feel they have been driven out.” Another resident added: “These traveller families probably don’t pay any taxes but their kids are going to our school and seemingly getting a better education than our children. It seems unfair.”
While Kettering District Council has an authorised site, a number of illegal camps have sprung up around Braybrooke. Residents have set up an action group to fight illegal developments.
Residents fear their village will be overwhelmed after travellers started to buy up plots on a 37-acre site called Greenfields.
They say traveller parents drive up to the school in Bentleys and Mercedes to pick up their children.
One said: “Ever since traveller kids have been here other parents have turned their noses up at the school. It’s their loss. It’s a brilliant school. Without Braybrooke, our kids would have no education.”
Mr Sharman, head teacher for seven years, fears public criticism could close the school.
“We all feel extremely defensive,” he said. “I am really pleased to be here but I am saddened by the fact the school could take everybody but, because of polarised opinion, that hasn’t happened.”