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Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 14:16 GMT
Travellers 'losing out' in schools
Travellers' camp
Non-literacy levels are high among travelling children
Only 21% of Scottish traveller children are receiving a regular secondary education, according to a leading charity.

Save the Children says that traveller children are being driven out of education by bullying, abuse and discrimination.

In a report called "Denied a Future", the charity says that failings in the Scottish education system are "leading to high levels of non-literacy" in travelling children.

It has now called on the Scottish Executive to set out a clear national strategy rather than leaving policy decisions to individual councils.

After ending up in hospital I can't face any more and I've had to leave school even though that really upsets me

Girl traveller
Travelling people in Scotland are recognised as a distinct ethnic group by the commission for racial equality.

But Save the Children says that there is a distinct lack of understanding of the traveller lifestyle in school policies, materials and teacher training.

It says the system does not "value Gypsy / traveller culture and lacks the necessary flexibility to deal with the children's traditional lifestyle".

Save the Children says this is down to a "lack of cultural awareness running through school policies, materials and teacher training".

The charity's report details the experiences of one 16-year-old traveller girl called Jamie Lee who dropped out of school after being hospitalised by "horrifying physical abuse".

She is quoted as saying: "I really, really wanted to stay at school. I was absolutely positive and determined to get a good education despite all the problems.

Girl and teddy
The report says bullying is a problem
"But after ending up in hospital I can't face any more and I've had to leave school even though that really upsets me."

The report also details another case where a family had to conceal its identity so the child could get a stable education.

It says that "radical action" is needed from the executive to combat the "discrimination and poor access to education" experienced by traveller children.

Save the Children wants ministers to formulate "a clear national strategy" to take the place of "piecemeal decisions by individual local authorities".

It has also called for a working party to be set up to develop an action plan in consultation with young Gypsies and travellers.

The charity says that in the long run a curriculum must be developed which is sensitive to the needs of travelling children.

Education correspondent Martha Fairlie reports
"Sometimes it's not just the pupils who discriminate against traveller children"
See also:

18 Jun 01 | Europe
Soros scholarships for gypsies
11 Aug 99 | Northern Ireland
'New deal' pledge to travellers
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