Locals shun 'Traveller school'

16th September 2005 at 01:00
Number of children on roll plummets as parents 'boycott'

primary. Roger Bushby reports.

Villagers are avoiding a Northamptonshire primary where all the pupils are Traveller children.

The roll at Braybrooke school, on the border with Leicestershire and close to three privately-owned Traveller sites, has fallen to 30.

Until July the school, which recently passed a council-led review with flying colours, had 40 pupils. But none of the 10 who left to go on to secondary school has been replaced, even though there are about 30 children of primary age in the school's catchment area.

Ken Sharman, the head, said: "This school could have a 60-pupil roll, but parents from this and neighbouring villages have decided to send their children elsewhere, which is their prerogative. It's a great pity - we are a good school with an excellent reputation. But we are here to serve every child who crosses our threshold. That's our purpose and that's what we'll continue to do."

Mr Sharman, who has been head of the school for three years, has not been given any reasons by the villagers for not sending their children to his school.

He said: "We have not had one written or verbal approach from villagers.

They've simply decided to send their children to other primaries in the area."

Northamptonshire county council said the school, which has two part-time teachers as well as Mr Sharman, had reached crisis point and that it was concerned about its future because of the falling numbers.

The Conservative-run authority said it was monitoring the school, built in the 1970s, to ensure it is "meeting the needs of all its pupils and the needs of the local community".

The TES was unable to find any parents willing to discuss the "boycott". A resident living opposite the school said: "I just don't go out when the Travellers are dropping their kids off or picking them up."

newsdesk@tes.co.uk

new study on traveller education 18

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