Research projects

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ESRC IAA Project

Ro|M|Ap: The Roma multilingual app to support mobility and social change

Partner Organisation(s):Glasgow City Council (GCC)|Scottish Government (SG)|Traveller Education Network (TENET)

This project funded by an ESRC Impact Acceleration Award aims to extend our Scottish Government research on ‘Digital media to promote community cohesion and inclusion for the women of the European Roma community in Scotland’. The project primarily builds on findings from STEP’s Scottish Government-funded research ‘Mobile family literacy’, 2014 to 2016. A participative, arts-based intervention throughout 2016 involved women in school-based workshops to design frameworks for their own learning. Processes and outcomes concluded that: inability to communicate was a major barrier to all participation, as Romani is an oral language there were no formal resources to support interpreters and ESL teachers in supporting the women, they were confident users of smart phones and  that the co-production of a simple smartphone app could support links and engagement with services, the school and other Roma women.

This ESRC project (2017-2018) aims to accelerate the impact of our research, with a focus on increasing the reach and impact of our innovative language learning smartphone app designed by Roma women. Impact activities include: translating the app into three further Roma dialects (eg, Slovak, Hungarian, Polish), improving customisation functions for users, user-driven workshops led by Roma women for Roma women, online resources for professionals with examples of innovative practice to support improvements in practice, and an interdisciplinary future thinking event with invited technologists, educators, community members and academic partners to explore the potential for the social shaping of technology to further meet the needs of Roma communities.

For project updates see @mobileandlearn

SG 2017-2020 Project

Barriers to solutions: democratic citizenship for Gypsy/Traveller and Roma communities

The “Barriers to solutions: democratic citizenship for Gypsy/Traveller and Roma communities” project builds on the principles of democratic professionalism and democratic citizenship to improve relationships between Gypsy/Traveller and Roma communities and service providers such as health, accommodation and criminal justice. The project draws on the concept of young people as ‘agents of change’. The dialogues between young people and service providers will inspire artistic responses to these themes during artist facilitated workshops. Workshop outputs will culminate in the children’s production of interactive exhibitions, which will be used as catalysts for engaging parents and carers with in similar discussions. The initiatives will gather momentum over three years as they move to new locations in Scotland resulting in increased participation for communities and new knowledge for service providers. The first project will run in Spring 2018 in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.  A series of activities will be planned and facilitated by an artist who will support pupils to extend their understanding of the theme through multimodal and material forms. The work can result in any of a range of visual forms including mixed media, collage, sculpture, text, digital media and installations, sound, or spoken word. We view each theme as a new provocation.  The outputs will provide evidence of the pupils’ democratic and learning processes.  For project updates see @mobileandlearn

BASC Project: Blogs and apps to support mobility and social change (strand 2) – Mobile youths online

An increasing number of young people (12-16) who left school at the age of 11/12, are now returning to further education and community services seeking educational opportunities and qualifications. Fittingly, the mobile youths online project explores the topic of ‘jobs and how to get one’.  The project aims to support young Travellers’ pathways into the world of work using social network channels.  In partnership with an independent community centre in Edinburgh, STEP works with a group of young Traveller girls to create and gather resources and information to support themselves and others to achieve their career goals. This may include: researching job opportunities (where to look, setting up alerts, using specific websites, social media), completing different types of job application (information you require, writing personal statements), young people’s personal experiences of interviews and top tips for success, and sharing advice from SQA about qualification pathways.  The resources and information will feature on the young people‘s sections of STEP’s website.

BASC Project: Blogs and apps to support mobility and social change (strand 1) – Roma women designing apps

STEP has found that Roma women play a pivotal role in their family’s participation in schools and wider community, however, they are highly vulnerable to exclusion due factors such as low literacy and English language.  Repeatedly, schools and Roma families report the need for initiatives which support parental engagement, and work in partnership with groups to tackle known barriers.  In 2015, STEP established a self-sustaining Roma community group, led by women for women (Family literacy project 2015).  The women identified language as the greatest barriers to accessing services in the community, engaging in school life and supporting their children’s learning. The women showed great skill and engagement in using Smartphone apps.  As a solution to the identified barriers, the women proposed that they create a bilingual app with useful words and phrases relating to their everyday lives.   As strand one of STEP’s BASC Project (Blogs and apps to support mobility and social change), this research focuses on European Roma communities in Govanhill, Glasgow.  Eight Roma women work with software developers to co-produce an interactive multilingual mobile phone app. The app will initially be in Romanian and English.

Tackling bullying in education settings through community voices

The project aim is to prevent discrimination in schools. It involves young people, parents and educators in the production of paper and online resources to tackle Traveller-directed bullying. It follows from a thinktank session in January 2016, which was a partnership between RespectMe, STEP and TENET, the network of local authority Traveller educators. The session unpacked how young Travellers’ experience bullying and discrimination differently from the settled community.

The next stage brings together young people, parents and teachers to develop a range of resources to both combat bullying and offer support following incidences. The resources will include creatively designed, interactive leaflets, animations, and weblogs. We will also provide school based anti-bullying workshops for teachers and all pupils, settled and mobile to promote community cohesion.

Children and young people’s views on education, new media and digital technology

Digital technology has become immersive in all aspects of society.  For young people from mobile communities, many of whom face on-going barriers to education such as interrupted learning and limited access to curriculum and resources, digital technology has the potential to be transformational.  But what do children and young people think about the role of technology in everyday life and their education?  This project explored children and young people’s practices around new media and digital technology to better understand their habits around everyday devices.  It elucidate attitudes towards education and the importance of technology in learning and mobile lifestyles. We asked 25 children and young people from mobile communities what they think. Click HERE to see our early results.

Mobile Family Literacy

An investigation of family literacy programmes for Scottish and European mobile communities.

The mobile family literacy project (STEP 2015) sought to understand how family literacy initiatives might benefit mobile communities in Scotland through the development of three family literacy programmes with two different mobile groups: Gypsy/Traveller and European Roma families. Literacy programmes ran for up to 16 weeks. They involved a range of participatory methods for family consultation, and, with families, the co-production of the structure and content of activities.  Families identified language and literacy as the main barriers to participation and engagement in their children’ learning, school life and wider community.  The programmes have had immediate and long-term benefits for all those involved.  The project increased engagement from families, providing opportunities for parents to express interest and concerns about their children’s education, positive relationship building between practitioners and parents, provided space for families to co-produce resources and activities to support their children’s learning.

Click here to access the resources and ‘framework’ produced as an outcome of the research.

Click here to find out more about the research.

Click here to download the final report.

Mobile culture and transitions

Mobile communities have the poorest records of making transitions between home and nursery then between school stages and beyond. The important transition between primary and secondary schools has been identified as when young people mobile cultures are most vulnerable to dropping out of the education system.  STEP undertook research to understand two issues in relation to transitions to schools for mobile families: what are the contributing factors to smooth transitions and non-transitions; and what strategies might be effective for improving transitions?  STEP adopted the following two-pronged approach to investigate these issues: (1) A systematic review of transition models, and (2) A survey of Scottish practitioners who work with mobile families.  Findings elucidated a complex and interlinked range of issues which affect mobile families’ transitions, including: mobility, literacy, school bureaucracy, unfamiliarity with rules of engagement, cultural sensitivity, and discrimination.  Effective strategies for ensuring smooth transitions include collaborative partnerships to foster school, student and parent readiness (Click here to view our ‘Transitions model’). The approaches deemed most effective by Scottish practitioners were multi-agency, individualised and needs-led. Central to the success of these approaches were flexibility, adaptability, effective knowledge exchange and creativity.  Findings from both sectors have been brought together in a report with recommendations for the professional community in Scotland.

Click here to access more information about the transitions research.

Digital learning resources guide

STEP undertook a survey of digital apps to support literacy development when young people are mobile. We prioritised a shortlist, with 13-16 year olds in mind, which used a variety of creative formats such as interactive reading, listening, quizzes, animation, and games – all designed to support and extend literacy.

Phase two of the research involved enlisting the help of a group young people to review the merits of each programme based on its ease of use, quality of engagement and learning features. An additional criteria was that the apps should be able to be used independently by children – although the very young may require support during initial stages or to reinforce and extend learning.

Phase three is currently underway where a group of practitioners, familiar with mobile students, have been enlisted to assess the apps and provide feedback regarding their suitability for supporting mobile learner’s literacy development.

A day in the life of…

A day in the life of…brought young people from both settled and mobile communities together to share feelings about being mobile. The sessions used iPads to create e-stories about journeys. The young people were self-organised and assumed active roles in the design and management of activities. Key concepts such as mobility, change, belonging, inclusion, outsider were discussed then illustrated through digital words and images.  The results are featured on the Young People’s section of the STEP website.

It is expected that this project be extended and will support greater community cohesion by encouraging mobile young people to work with settled peers to share and understand beliefs and values. STEP will revisit the projects after 6 months to asses impact on young people’s understanding and relationships.

A Film for Roma Families made by Roma Families

This project aimed to ease the transition to nursery and primary school for Roma families. Working in partnership with Glasgow City Council and additional funding from Glasgow’s European Fund, a group of stakeholders met to discuss how the film would be most effective.  The final outcome was a film involving parents and children from local nurseries.  Together, the parents agreed on the most important information that other new parents might need when sending their children to school.  A premiere for the film was held at one of the local schools.

Click here to watch.

Hearing from another mother in your language what happens in school is far more reassuring and easy to understand.

Marion Fairweather, Gatherd Together blog