Who got that job?

27th March 2009 at 00:00
Ever wondered who got a job you saw advertised in TESS? Eve Craib was drawn to a post supporting GypsyTraveller pupils

Eve Craib has always sought out opportunities to work with people from "a totally different background".

That curiosity took her to The Gambia for two years - but last year, she found an equally intriguing post in her own backyard.

The 32-year-old was one of the first batch of probationers in 2001 to qualify following the teachers' agreement, and later worked in long-term temporary posts for West Dunbartonshire and Stirling councils. But it was her posting with Voluntary Services Overseas which proved a defining experience. She lived in a Gambian village and worked with nine primary and secondary schools, supporting teachers in a professional environment where basic literacy and numeracy were enough to secure a job.

After returning to Scotland, that daunting but "brilliant" experience pushed her towards the Moray Council post of support teacher for GypsyTraveller pupils. She had no prior expertise in this area, but a profound interest in other cultures.

Miss Craib took up the post in December. Previously, the authority supported the pupils through classroom assistants, but she shoulders that responsibility in a peripatetic role. She covers 12 schools and works with 20 pupils. While some struggle at school, others are "flying". She works with groups of up to five, where Gypsy and Traveller children are joined by other pupils who are finding things difficult.

Moray is unusual in having no permanent authorised site for Travellers' mobile homes, so her work is almost entirely in schools. Colleagues in equivalent roles in other parts of Scotland spend much of their time visiting sites to talk up the benefits of school and explain educational opportunities.

Although some of the families of children she works with have settled in houses within local communities, others carry on the old traditions. Two brothers in P1 and P2 arrived at school in November after three months away while their family was whelking in Skye.

Additional support for learning legislation includes Gypsy and Traveller children among "interrupted learners", a fact which Miss Craib finds some schools are unaware of.

Having never worked with secondary pupils in Scotland, she has been surprised to see how far they get, despite barely being able to read. One boy needed help with shopping and reading; "literacy that will get him through his life" was more pressing than academic work.

The post is planned to last for a year. Miss Craib hopes it will continue, as she envisages taking a year to gain fully the trust of pupils. They may "love" their teacher, but "you're just this woman who comes in to work with them for a week" - although she is starting to get the odd smile of recognition.

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