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Your move: teaching travellers

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Every local education authority has a traveller education service (TES), and there are around 120,000 travellers in the UK.

Travellers are gypsies from the British Isles, East European Roma, and fairground and circus families. Some have been travellers for generations but are not ethnically gypsies, and some "new age" travellers have converted to a nomadic lifestyle. Some families are likely to be in a school or LEA for winter and go elsewhere at other times.

Fairground families often want school places for a week or so. Other travellers are settled and live on permanent sites, so stay in the same school. Primary school is valued, but problems can arise at secondary transfer. Your job is to ensure that they get their education - organising teachers on-site, teaching on-site yourself, persuading families that children should attend school or negotiating between families, schools and other services.

You must be open-minded and flexible. You will move around a lot, so you might need a car, but you will get a mileage allowance. Previous experience in teaching basic skills might be a bonus because pupils might be behind the expected levels for their age. In Scotland, some LEAs have distance-learning schemes that allow traveller pupils to keep in touch with teachers using laptops.

Management allowances are available for this work. Heads of service and advisers can earn 40K or more, but your traveller responsibility will be linked to other services such as lifelong learning or the ethnic minority achievement grant (EMAG).

Useful websites (See"Raising the attainment of minority ethnic pupils")

Next month: LEA advisers

Andy Stanley

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