School staff should generally be aware that:
- Some families move as work opportunities arise or to be with extended family networks, so children enrolled at school can be withdrawn suddenly, and may leave no indication of where they have gone or for how long. Families may not always know their forwarding address before leaving.
- A positive relationship with families obviously increases the likelihood of being informed. Where possible, schools should keep in touch with families, while they are travelling.
- When due dates of return are known ( e.g. for children of families whose work is seasonal) and if the child does not arrive as expected, school staff should inform the authority Child Protection Co-ordinator who should follow procedures for tracing children missing from education.
- Positive relationships and open communication with gypsy and traveller parents will help schools maintain links with families and include them positively when they return from travelling.
- Communicate sensitively. There is a strong oral tradition among gypsies and travellers. Low literacy levels means communication with families must be developed without reliance solely on written communication. Where formal procedures or meetings are required, this must be borne in mind.
- It is helpful to have good contact with local authority and health staff who also liaise with gypsy/traveller families, to facilitate the exchange of information.
- Staff should attempt to ensure that the child’s right to education and their right to express their views is sensitively supported.
- Schools and education authorities may find it useful to refer to guidance produced by the Scottish Executive, STEP, and Learning and Teaching Scotland, called, Inclusive Educational Approaches for Gypsies and Travellers within the context of interrupted learning www.scotland.gov.uk/resources/travellers.pdf and also Delivering for Scotland’s Gypsies/Traveller’ www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/justice/dfsgt-00.asp