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Friday, November 13, 1998 Published at 12:05 GMT


Schools must support travellers' children

Travellers' children often miss out on education

The government has announced extra support for the education of travellers' children.

The Schools Minister, Charles Clarke, told a conference for teachers of travellers that the Department for Education would spend an extra 1.5m next year.

"Traveller children are particularly at risk of losing out on a good education. It is therefore vital that we ensure they have all the opportunities necessary to succeed at school."

[ image: There are 50,000 children of traveller families in England]
There are 50,000 children of traveller families in England
The minister said that he particularly wanted to improve attendance by travellers' children at school - setting a target of a 40% improvement at secondary level in the next three years.

The nomadic life of traveller families has in the past meant that their children have missed out on school and qualifications, to the extent that the Department for Education says they have "achieved less well than any other group".

The extra funding, which raises next year's spending on travellers' education to 13.5m, will provide a 'development fund' which will promote the importance of education among traveller parents.

There will also be grants available to local authorities to create traveller education services with specialist staff who will work alongside traveller families.

There are an estimated 50,000 travelling children of school-age in England, attending 3,400 schools each year. These are mostly Romany gypsies but the figure also includes New Age travellers.

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