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‘For a generation the Gypsy/Traveller community have not felt that they have been included or belonged within the school system.’

(Gould, 2017)


The importance of family involvement and impact on education achievement and outcomes is well documented (Winthrop et al 2021) (National Parenting Strategy, 2012). Harris and Goodall 2007; Wilder 2014)

Family involvement is known to be low in the case of GRT families for a wide range of complex reasons. Histories of social exclusion and ongoing racial discrimination (Burchardt et al., 2018; Foster & Norton, 2015; Marcus, 2019; Riddell, 2022; Wilkin et al., 2010) have resulted in low engagement and uptake of formal education and negative perceptions of institutions (Cemlyn et al., 2009; Finn and Duncan 2020; Myers et al., 2010). The complexity of family involvement and engagement for traditionally nomadic cultures is amplified by the very nature of nomadism where the community seek to maintain their long-held values and traditions remaining at a distance from mainstream society. Townsend et al., 2020 expand on this idea by suggesting that although GRT experience various forms of inclusion and exclusion, many of these are preferred forms of integration or engagement rather than imposed, possibly feeling safer in this peripheral space as groups are able to exercise their rights without fear of oppression (Sibley, 1998).

To ensure culturally relevant contents, promote community cohesion and cultural values (Ureche and Franks 2007) education for many GRT families is viewed as something provided by family members within the home and GRT community. Nevertheless, there is increasing evidence showing that parents do value education and that some parents, particularly mothers, increasingly believe there is value in sending their children to school (Bhopal 2011; Lloyd and McCluskey 2008). There are factors to consider (which are by no means limited to GRT communities e.g. Spear et al 2023) which schools should be mindful of when assessing or targeting levels of family involvement. This includes low literacy levels, lack of confidence, digital poverty and low digital confidence and skills ( Padfield, 2008; STEP 2022; Tammi, 2020; Townsend et al.,2020). In addition, as potentially the first generation of school-based learners, which has been evidenced in other nomadic or remote communities (e.g. Kanungo et al 2023) parents may be unfamiliar with the concept of ‘family involvement’ or the expectations linked to parents of attending pupils (STEP/Finn 2023 research?). In effect, without the meaningful involvement of GRT families, schools cannot ensure that their service is providing a relevant and culturally sensitive curriculum in a learning environment where GRT families and their children feel that they belong, are safe, respected and represented.