Education, Identity and Roma Families

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Education, Identity and Roma Families
Education, Identity and Roma
Families: teacher and
children’s reflections on needs,
practice and possibilities.
Gill Crozier, Roehampton
University, London, UK
Jane Davies and Kim Szymanski,
University of Sunderland, UK
The Roma/Romani in Britain
In the UK the main groups are: Gypsies;
Irish, Scottish, Welsh Travellers; Eastern or
Central European Roma; New Travellers,
Bargee or water craft people; Fairground
and Show people; Circus people (Tyler
Estimated numbers approx. 350,000
Exact numbers of Eastern and Central
European Roma are not known
The Roma in the UK
Roma, Gypsies and Travellers continue to
suffer overt racism and discrimination in the
UK and throughout Europe.
Roma migration to Britain is part of the
migration of Eastern Europeans following
accession to the European Union.
This migration has also been caught up in
the movement of asylum seekers and
refugees as a result of global conflicts.
Sivanandan argues these peoples are demonised, just as Black
and Asian people were previously, to justify on the one hand
slavery and on the other colonialism. Today the new migrants
are demonised “to justify the ways of globalism” (Sivanandan
2001:2). He describes these attitudes as xenoracism:
The racism we are faced with today [in the UK] is not the
racism we [South Asians] faced 50 years ago, when we first
came here…that … racism [state, institutional and popular]
continues….But there is a new racism…even more virulent
and devastating … this racism is meted out to refugees and
asylum seekers irrespective of their colour. This is the racism
that is meted out to Roma and Sinti and poor whites from
Eastern Europe ….” (2002, accessed 29/5/08 www.irr.org.uk).
UK Education Policy Provision
There is significant legislation in the UK against racial
discrimination and racist abuse. Including:
The Race Relations Amendment Act (2000) and Community
Cohesion Strategy
There is substantial educational support for Gypsy, Roma and
Traveller children and a raft of initiatives through:Traveller
Education Service (TES) in every Local Education Authority,
the government strategy: Raising Achievement (2003) and
Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF
Guidance on the Education of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller
children (2008) (DCSF)
School based initiatives and anti-discriminatory law.
However, the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children are
amongst some of the lowest educationally achieving children.
The INSETRom Project UK
Between December 2007 and November
Worked with teachers of Roma children in
two primary schools in the North East of
England (Norton).
Involved a needs assessment and analysis
with the teachers, interviews with young
people in the local community
Staff development work with the teachers.
Significance of Context:
school, society and political
Two primary schools 3-11
Located in disadvantaged area: low SES; high
unemployment; low educational achievement; poor
quality housing
BME population
Both schools predominantly working class and
ethnically diverse
Westfield below average academic attainment; high
Castlereagh academic performance equates to
national average
The impact of neo-liberal education
policies and the performative culture of
the school
Statutory requirements
New leadership in both schools
Key Issues Arising from the
Needs Analysis
Identification and/or Disidentification of
Roma Children/Families
Poor communication between school and
Stereotyping of Roma children
Compartmentalisation of practice
Teachers’ lack of training and understanding
of issues of racism/anti-racism/diversity
Desire for cultural artefacts
What we did
Starting point the teachers’ needs and perspectives
Supportive environment – challenge and
development of a critical pedagogy through a
dialogic approach/community of practice
Interactive and practically based sessions.
Resource packs of information, teaching materials,
references and web links.
Negotiated follow-up activities and teaching
The training programme culminated with further
change strategies for teaching and work to involve
the parents.
What we did
Analysing and interrogating patterns of pupils’ achievement, looking
at possible school effects
Though it is readily available – information –about the Roma history.
Engaging with problems of homogenising/essentialising people
such as the use of labels as in ‘Eastern European’ or even ‘Roma’.
‘Myth-busting’ which sets out to challenge some of the stereotypes.
Where do these stereotypes come from?
Curriculum development – how can the curriculum be adapted to be
more relevant/hold more appeal/be more accessible to Roma pupils
Classroom teaching strategies particularly aimed at older pupils
who are new to English or who lack academic English eg
maximising opportunities for modelling, scaffolding activities etc.
Identifying racist attitudes and behaviours and dealing with these.
Dealing with racist bullying.
What we did….
1. What is ‘Culture’?
2. Roma History and ‘Culture’
3. Diversifying the Curriculum
4. The Multilingual Classroom
5. Creating an Inclusive Classroom – dealing with stereotypes
and conflict management
6. Teacher-Roma Parent Communication and Parental
Involvement Session 1
7. Teacher-Roma Parent Communication and Parental
Involvement Session 2
8. Curriculum Development – developing and adapting the
National Curriculum and Standards in Education (England)
On-going; such work is very long term
Dysconscious racism – need longer to address this and also
need closer working relationship
Tensions between teacher desires for factual information and
our desire to achieve critical perspectives and practice
Our anxiety about ‘losing’ the teachers
Conflicting demands on teachers’ time and conflicting
Teachers were developing a more reflective and reflexive
Teachers valued working with colleagues from another school
Need proactive school leadership
Contact Details:
Art work by Ferdinand Kochi
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