Robin Walker – 2022 Comments on Government’s Plans on Education for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Pupils

The comments made by Robin Walker, the Minister of State for School Standards, at the Education Committee meeting on 15 March 2022.

The first thing is to look at attendance across the piece. We discussed previously the work that we are doing with the attendance alliance, some of the excellent work the Children’s Commissioner has been doing in this space and learning from some of the good practice that I think we have seen in some schools at reaching out to the local Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community and engaging them and supporting attendance in that space.

Also, we need to look at intergenerational literacy as a challenge. There is money in the adult education budget to support adult literacy, but at the moment I think this is a community that isn’t being effectively engaged on that. There is more that we could do on that front because I think that is very important. Part of it is also to show that we take the concerns of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community, where they have those concerns, seriously. We are spending money on anti-bullying activities, including some specific work targeted towards that community, because it is right that they should not have to be concerned about their children being in schools. That is one of the things that may in turn affect attendance.