What's my job...

11th November 2005 at 00:00
There are about 400 children from Traveller families in Cornwall at any time. Increasingly, the service is involved with migrant workers, refugees and asylum-seekers.

Traveller education teams have always worked with different agencies and in close consultation with families. Every Child Matters endorses the good practice of our services. The Government's five outcomes - having the choice to be healthy when living on the roadside or at inadequate sites; staying safe from bullying and racism; enjoying a curriculum that reflects Traveller cultures positively; having the opportunity to make a positive contribution and achieving economic well-being - are daily challenges for many Traveller families.

Each day in this job is different. I may be in the office with piles of paperwork, representing Traveller issues as an adviser at a planning or strategy meeting or speaking at a conference about inclusion.

A major part of my role is to deploy a team of teachers, learning mentors, cultural diversity support workers and an education welfare officer effectively. We all work closely with colleagues from children's social services.

I monitor their work by visiting schools regularly and I give advice to the head and managers on issues such as target-setting for discrete groups and finding strategies to keep disaffected children engaged in education.

My day is always lightened when I can be involved with the children's activities. I enjoy working alongside class teachers on planning to include culturally specific materials which both raise understanding of Traveller lifestyles and demonstrate to Traveller children in the class that their way of life is valid.

Most important is listening to the families and the children about their hopes and fears and helping the school staff to make outreach visits, to build trust and understanding.

Ginny Harrison-White is head of Cornwall's Traveller Education Support Service and president of the National Association of Teachers of Travellers. She was talking to Carolyn O'Grady

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