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  • Report and Recommendations for aTraveller Education Strategy

  • Published by the Stationery Office, Dublin

    To be purchased directly from the: Government Publications Office,Sun Alliance House, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2

    Or by mail order from:Government Publications, Postal Trade Section51 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2.

    Tel: 01 6476834/35/36/37Fax: 016476843

    Price: 10.00ISBN: 0755717104

  • Contents

    Chapter 1: Irish Travellers: Background 3

    Chapter 2: Scope and terms of reference, core values, principles and policy on inclusion 7

    Chapter 3: Traveller education, 2005 12

    Chapter 4: Traveller parents 21

    Chapter 5: Pre-schools: early childhood education 28

    Chapter 6: Primary education 35

    Chapter 7: Post-primary education 48

    Chapter 8: Further education 62

    Chapter 9: Higher education 73

    Chapter 10: Other educational issues 80

    Chapter 11: Conclusions and recommendations 89

    References 100

    Appendices 104

    Appendix 1: Abbreviations used in this report 105

    Appendix 2: Membership of the Joint Working Group 106

    Appendix 3: Membership of the Advisory Committee on Traveller Education 107

    Appendix 4: Respondents to the consultation process 108

    Report and Recommendations for a Traveller Education Strategy 1

  • Examples

    Example 1: Outreach workers in the Clondalkin School Completion Programme 23

    Example 2: DCU Access Service 23

    Example 3: Pavee Points Parents and Traveller Education 23

    Example 4: St Catherines Community Services Centre Play School, Carlow 30

    Example 5: Training areas included in the INTO and Barnardos Programme 30

    Example 6: ist 31

    Example 7: Inclusion of Traveller children in mainstream education 38

    Example 8: Tullamore Travellers Movement After-School Programme 39

    Example 9: Example of a transfer programme 50

    Example 10: The Star Pupil Programme 52

    Example 11: Team approach to inclusive Traveller education at a post-primary school 52

    Example 12: Services offered by Tullamore Primary Health Care for Travellers Programme 64

    Example 13: Partnership in Ennis STTC 66

    Example 14: The South Dublin County Council initiative 66

    Example 15: County Dublin VECs community learning opportunities for Travellers 67


    Table 1: Traveller accommodation, 2004 4

    Table 2: Estimated number of Traveller pupils in mainstream post-primary schools by 16 school class, 2004/05

    Table 3: Estimated distribution of Traveller pupils in mainstream post-primary schools 17in recent years

    Table 4: Estimated financial resources expended on Traveller education above and 18beyond expenditure on mainstream education, 1999/2000 - 2004/05

    Table 5: Mean achievement scores for members of the Traveller and settled 38communities, by school class

    2 Report and Recommendations for a Traveller Education Strategy

  • Chapter 1Irish Travellers: Background

  • 1.1 Introduction

    This chapter provides a brief background on IrishTravellers, their education, accommodation, health, andother challenges facing them, and sets out the formatof this report.

    1.2 The Traveller community

    Irish Travellers are an indigenous minority who,according to historical evidence, have been part of Irishsociety for centuries. They have a long shared history,value system, language, customs and traditions thatmake them a group recognised by themselves andothers as distinct. This distinctive life-style and culture,based on a nomadic tradition, sets them apart from thesettled population. The history of the Travellercommunity includes a struggle to uphold their distinctcultural identity and to maintain a nomadic way of life.For the purposes of this report it is accepted thatTravellers have shared a nomadic tradition and a meansof communication, beliefs, values and practices distinctfrom the majority culture.

    The 2002 census of population counted close to 24,000Travellers. Traveller representatives have expressedconcern that the census figure may be an underestimateand suggest that the real figure is approximately30,000. Some may not have wished to identifythemselves as Travellers. (This was the first time suchinformation was sought in the census. Previouscensuses had relied on enumerators identifyingTravellers who lived in halting-sites, while those in localauthority housing were not counted as Travellers.)

    The 2002 census found that almost two-thirds of the7,000 Travellers who gave the age at which their full-time education ceased had left before the then statutory minimum age of fifteen, compared with 15per cent for the population as a whole. Historically,Travellers were often marginalised in the educationsystem. Into the 1990s Travellers were often educatedthrough segregated provision. Over the last decade this segregated approach has mainly been abandoned in favour of age-appropriate, integrated and inclusive provision.

    Travellers are acknowledged in many reports as one ofthe most marginalised groups in Irish society. This isparticularly emphasised, for example, in the Report ofthe Task Force on the Travelling Community (1995).Many Travellers fare poorly on every indicator used tomeasure disadvantage, including educationalattainment, health status, unemployment, poverty,social exclusion, life expectancy, infant mortality, gender

    equality, political representation, accommodation, and living conditions.

    Travellers, like the settled population, are not ahomogeneous group. There are Travellers who, becauseof their sex, sexual orientation, age, disability etc. havecomplex needs and may experience multiple forms ofdiscrimination. A number of Travellers have broken outof the cycle of material poverty, and some, though avery small number, are participating in, and derivingbenefit from, the education system to a high level.

    A study by the Economic and Social Research Institute,Population Structure and Living Circumstances of IrishTravellers (1986), found that the age structure ofTraveller families was radically different from that of thesettled population. Among Travellers there was arelatively large number of infants and children and arelatively small number of older people, as a result of ahigh birth rate and low life expectancy. In 2002 thecensus found a similar age profile, showing thatTravellers are continuing to die younger than theirsettled peers. It found that the average age of Travellersis eighteen, compared with an average age of thirty-twofor the general population. The census also found that73 per cent of Traveller men and 64 per cent of Travellerwomen were unemployed, whereas only 4.4 per cent ofthe total population were unemployed.

    1.3 Traveller accommodation

    At the end of 2004 the Department of the Environment,Heritage and Local Government evaluated existingTraveller accommodation. This is summarised in table 1.

    Table 1: Traveller accommodation, 2004

    The number of families living on unauthorised sites isdeclining. In 2002 more than 900 families were livingon unauthorised sites. On the other hand, the numberliving in basic service bays or in shared accommodationhas increased from 698 in 2002 to 912 in 2004. One infive Traveller families are living in basic service bays,sharing accommodation, or on unauthorised sites. Thequality of accommodation varies greatly, and for those

    4 Report and Recommendations for a Traveller Education Strategy

    Tenants in permanent accommodation providedby, or with the assistance of, local authorities 4,528

    Tenants in private rented accommodation 486

    Own accommodation from own resources 464

    Basic service bays or sharing accommodation 912

    Living in unauthorised sites 601

    Total 6,991

    Types of accommodation Number of families

  • living on unauthorised sites (601 families) there is theconstant threat of eviction without notice under section10 of the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act(1998) and the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act(2002). As a result, many Travellers are living inconditions that are unacceptable with regard to theirgeneral well-being and specifically their education. Poor accommodation militates against their being ableto participate in a meaningful and productive manner inthe education system.

    New Traveller accommodation policies are beingadopted by local authorities to cover the period 2005-08. It is expected that these schemes will continueto address the accommodation needs of Travellers. In2005, 45 million was allocated to accommodationspecifically for Travellers.

    1.4 Traveller health

    Travellers are particularly disadvantaged in terms ofhealth status and access to health services. Generallyspeaking, they suffer poor health on a level whichcompares so unfavourably with the settled communitythat it would probably be unacceptable to any sectionthereof. (Traveller Health: A National Strategy, 2002-2005, 2002, section 1.8.)

    Travellers of all ages have much higher mortality ratesthan people in the general population. The infantmortality rate (per 1,000 live births) is nearly three timesthat of the national population, and Travellers have alife expectancy that is ten years less for men and twelveyears less for women. High levels of morbidity andfrequent hospitalisation are factors common to Travellerchildren and to many Travellers generally. TheDepartment of Health and Childrens publicationTraveller Health: A National Strategy, 2002-2005 (2002)sets out a clear and practical response to inequities. ATraveller Health Advisory Committee has beenestablished by the department, as has a Traveller HealthUnit in each Health Service Executive area. Theinvolvement of Travellers themselves in the provision ofhealth services is

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