From the Archive - 11.04.1952

20th April 2012 at 01:00

Gypsy scholars

Literacy is no longer the hallmark of scholarship among Gypsies, but a necessity of life that is almost as essential as a ration card.

The time has now come when the "travellers" themselves, conscious of the pressure of form-filling and bureaucracy, are beginning to demand that their families should at least be effectively taught to read and write.

At the east end of Stepney in London, between Limehouse Cut and the Regent's Canal, lies a bomb site of some dozen acres. There may be found a sort of mobile shanty town of caravans and converted buses, tents and lorries and the skeletons of a dismantled roundabout.

In one respect at least, however, the children of this unfortunate "waste land" are more fortunate than many of their kind for whom the winter is no better than a period of uncomfortable hibernation.

For behind their unfixed abodes rises the 80-year-old mass of the Sir William Burroughs Junior and Mixed School, where a class is run for their special benefit. There they have the undivided attention of one mistress interested in retarded children.

One must be a jack of all trades on a fairground and the children of such a community have little need for periods and equipment set aside for craftwork. What they do need - and what so few of their fathers and mothers can give them - is a working knowledge of the three Rs. All the illiterate or almost illiterate parents interviewed regretted their ignorance and felt it to be a far more serious handicap than in their own parents' time.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now