A new report reveals the significant barriers to education faced by Traveller children living in the north Cork region.
It finds that many children still experience ‘high levels of disadvantage’ across the region.
The Travellers of North Cork report, undertaken by Dr Patricia McGrath at Adult Continuing Education at University College Cork (UCC), examines the pressing issues affecting the Travelling Community.
The report details the first-hand experiences of students and families while engaging with the education system.
It shows that many children are encouraged to leave school early by their teachers despite the child’s family’s efforts to keep them studying. Many Traveller children also face segregation from their class mates, leading to greater feelings of isolation.
Dr McGrath said:
"Despite the Government's commitment to reducing this disadvantage and improving progression rates to Further and Higher education, this research finds that barriers to education persist for Traveller children in primary and secondary schools.
“It is essential to address these challenges throughout a child's life journey, ensuring schools have adequate resources to support Traveller children.
“With the necessary supports in place, Traveller children ought to transition successfully from primary to secondary schools, levelling the playing field to give them the opportunity to progress to further and higher education and achieve their full potential.”
Key findings in the report include:
- The study has highlighted a scarcity of National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) assessments in primary schools, which is essential for identifying and addressing additional educational needs.
- The report emphasises the absence of Traveller Cultural Awareness Training in schools and in the curriculum, contributing to non-inclusive environments where children feel marginalized.
- Schools that acknowledge and celebrate Traveller Culture are highlighted as welcoming environments and models of good practice for others to follow.
- The research identifies the lack of Traveller Cultural awareness in teacher training colleges, calling for the inclusion of trauma-informed practices and Traveller Culture Awareness in teacher training programs.
- Some schools still segregate children into Traveller-only classrooms, a practice that should have been eliminated in the past.
- The report found that early school leaving is encouraged, with some teachers actively encouraging children to leave school once they reach the legal age of sixteen.
- Low expectations of Traveller children in schools perpetuate barriers to progression from primary to secondary education and beyond.
Responding to the report, Senator Eileen Flynn has called on Minister for Education Norma Foley to take action and "ensure quality in education of Traveller children and all children."
The report makes 20 recommendations of how to improve the educational experience and rates of progression for Traveller children, including that:
- all schools should have Traveller Cultural Awareness Training;
- all schools should actively promote cultural identity, diversity and inclusion for all children,
- specific funding should be made available for schools to support Traveller students to progress in education.