Ms Amanda Spielman March 27 2019
HM Chief Inspector
Office for Standards in Educatione-mail: email@example.com
Dear Ms Spielman,
Consultation on proposals for changes to the education inspection framework
We are writing to you from our perspective both as Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community members and as professionals with long experience of supporting the education of children and young people from these groups.
We are, in general, happy with your proposals. We like, in particular, the increased emphasis on the curriculum and the separation of development from attitudes and behaviour.
We support the sections on race in your Equality Diversity and Inclusion statement where you state that:
“We are aware that evidence shows variation in the educational performance of different ethnic groups and that performance also varies between stages and phases of education, for example, some groups perform well at primary school but less so at secondary school.
The framework is intended to be a force for improvement in the education available for all learners, including those from all ethnic groups. The draft criteria are clear that the expectation is that all learners receive a high-quality, ambitious education.”
In the light of this, we are surprised to see that the new draft documents do not at any point specifically refer to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils.
There is strong evidence that children from these groups have the lowest levels of educational performance at all key stages, disproportionately high levels of exclusions, very high rates of persistent absence and drop out and problems accessing school places at all key stages. Many of them suffer high levels of discrimination and bullying in schools from their peers and even from school staff.
On January 9 2019 Nadhim Zahawi addressed the parliamentary women and equalities committee enquiry into “Tackling inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities”. He stated that there was a long way to go before his department will feel it is beginning to deliver for this group. He reconfirmed the commitment published in 2012 by the Ministerial Working Group on tackling inequalities experienced by Gypsies and Travellers, namely that:
“Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils are specifically highlighted as a vulnerable group in the revised Ofsted framework, ensuring that school inspections will pay particular attention to their progress, attainment and attendance”
In addition, he said that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children were one of three groups – along with children with special educational needs and those in care – whose improvement was a priority.
The new framework should not delete the reference to these groups that was contained in the 2015 Framework. The situation has not improved since then. Moreover, small cohorts are not investigated by Ofsted inspectors but this should not mean that they are overlooked during school inspections.
It could be helpful for inspectors to consider, for example
- the school experience of those children who have not felt confident to ascribe their ethnicity and of those who attend schools located in areas of high anti-Traveller hostility
- reasons for children dropping out / opting for Elective Home Education
- access to education for children who travel seasonally e.g. with fairs
- failure to transfer to secondary school
- the many Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils not eligible for Pupil Premium
- the school’s relationship with the children’s parents and families
- provision for roadside children who may enrol for short periods
- whether the school curriculum affirms the history and culture of these pupils
We hope that you will take these points into consideration and that you will be prepared, after all, to highlight Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils in the final 2019 framework.
You may also be interested to learn that neither of the categories Gypsy and Traveller of Irish heritage is included in the ethnic monitoring section of the consultation form.
Lisa Smith, ACERT Chair, Youth Editor at Travellers’ Times and Global Leader for Young Children at the World Forum Foundation
Yvonne MacNamara, CEO Traveller Movement
Abbie Kirkby, Advice and Policy Manager Friends, Families and Travellers
Andy Shallice, Roma Support Group
Tyler Hatwell, ACERT EC and Education Liaison Officer, Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain London Section
Sue Mutter, ACERT EC and Coordinator Roma Support Group Early Childhood Education Project and former Gypsy, Roma, Traveller School Improvement Adviser, London Borough of Redbridge
Margaret Wood, ACERT EC and former Team Manager for Traveller Education, Cambridgeshire CC
Dr Hazel Marsh, ACERT EC and Senior Lecturer University of East Anglia
Tim Everson, ACERT EC and former Team Leader Gypsy, Roma, Traveller Achievement Service, Suffolk CC