General views on guidance
Question 20: Are there any general comments you would wish to make about the guidance 'Improving educational outcomes for children and young people from travelling cultures'?
63. There was a broad mix of responses to this question. Where issues have already been covered earlier in the analysis they have not been repeated.
64. The vast majority of respondents welcomed the guidance and saw the need for it. There were a few comments throughout the consultation about the guidance being too detailed, too wordy and in some cases repetitive or duplicating advice contained in other guidance documents and a few concerns that a lengthy, text-heavy document would be a challenge for teachers and the Travelling community. One respondent thought the guidance unnecessary, and overlong, and suggested a shortened guidance note instead.
65. There were a few comments about the lack of participation of Travellers in the development of the guidance and it could be improved by including voices and opinion of Traveller parents and pupils and Headteachers with experience of different Travellers.
66. Some respondents have indicated that the wants and preferences of Traveller families should determine their learning path which may not always include formal education. However this is inconsistent with legislation and policy in Scotland which requires that children and young people are educated until age 16, or thereabouts, and means they have entitlements under Curriculum for Excellence and a framework which allows flexibility to meet the needs of the individual learner. A change to this approach would require significant legislative and policy change and would not be consistent with the Scottish Government’s aim for equity and excellence in education. Similarly, a suggestion by one respondent that Traveller young people be educated together, rather than with non-Travellers, is not consistent with Scotland’s inclusive approach to education.
67. It was noted by a few respondents that the focus of the guidance was Gypsy/Travellers. The lack of specific information on supporting children and young people from Roma and Showpeople families was noted and it was suggested that the guidance address issues specific to each Traveller group.
68. Some respondents raised concerns about the use of the term ‘Travellers’, for example ‘…whilst the Traveller groups are clearly defined …the all-encompassing term Traveller will possibly still hold the assumption that all groups are the same’. There was some concern that using the term in the guidance generalised Traveller issues and did not recognise the diversity of different Traveller groups. Some respondents, including those speaking for the Showpeople community, thought the collective term suggested that all of the issues and data used in the guidance applied to all types of Travellers, and this was inaccurate.
69. There was a request that the guidance comment on the role of schools in providing opportunities within the school day for learners to access social and cultural experiences and amenities which would otherwise not be available, as well as a request to draw out the possible double negative impact of poverty related and discrimination on attainment for some Travellers.
70. There were some requests for more emphasis on the role of communities and services outside of schools, and the importance of working in partnership with parents and wider families. The important role of Community Learning and Development ( CLD) and youth work programmes in supporting young travels was flagged.
71. Some respondents pointed to specific expectations that could be placed on girls, and pointed to research findings and recommendations (of which a number related to bullying and discrimination). Another respondent suggested including something in the guidance about educational, and other, support for young Traveller mums.
72. Again there were calls for some additional detail about the different Traveller communities and the need for schools to focus on identifying barriers that individual children and young people faced, including developing the skills and experience of staff to support Traveller children. Other responses outwith those already covered included: stressing the significant negative impact on future learning of excluding or withdrawing a child from school: tailoring guidance on early years provision and comments on the need to tackle poverty and lack of employment given the impact on educational outcomes for some Travellers; and a request to include something on safeguarding.
73. There were a few suggestions made across the consultation on the way some of the guidance was worded or set out, as well as suggestions for links to additional material and information sources. In addition to ideas for further practice insights already covered, there was a request for practice insights to cover engaging with parents to improve attendance, and of how schools can work with Traveller families on strategies to support pupils with learning difficulties arising from conditions such as ADHD or autism.
74. We will now consider the content of all responses received and amend the draft guidance where appropriate. For example, we will take steps to address key themes from the consultation, such as the unintended consequences of using the term ‘Travellers’, and will work with stakeholders to develop more practice insights given the positive feedback about the value they add to the guidance. We will aim to ensure that the final guidance meets the needs of those supporting the education of Traveller children and young people in Scotland’s schools and communities.