Ask Abi – Our regular education advice column from the Traveller Movement

23 November 2018
Ask Abi – Our regular education advice column from the Traveller Movement

Abi answers a question on Traveller pupils, ‘travelling’ and school holidays/term time

Hi! My name is Abi and I run the education support project at The Traveller Movement. I’ve been with the Traveller Movement since the beginning of 2015, my job is to advise and support families with any issues they might be facing in schools or education. When I’m not trying to make sure all young people are getting the support they need to learn, I can usually be found baking cakes or buying more lipstick!

If you have a question that you would like answered and don’t mind it being published on the Travellers Times website then email me and I’ll try my best to answer. If it’s a more complicated problem or you fancy talking it over on the phone then give me a call on 0207 607 2002. I’ll reply to all your questions and do my best to help you fix your school problems.

Please do also get in touch if you have a tip that could be the next tip of the month- although I’m always excited to hear about a new product it would be great to get non make-up related tips too!

Q.             I’m planning on taking the family off travelling for a couple of months in the spring but the youngest three are still in school. I heard about something called a ‘T’ that means I can take my kids out of school because we’re Travellers- please would you tell me more about this?

A.             There is a T-code that teachers can write in the register, like an ‘L’ for late or ‘I’ for ill, and it means that children are authorised to not attend school for a period of time because they are travelling. This code can be used by Gypsies, Travellers, Roma, Showmen, Bargees and New Travellers but only counts when your family are travelling for ‘occupational purposes’. This means that the school may ask for proof that you were travelling for work so make sure you keep hold of any invoices you might have from your time travelling.

Over the year the T-code shouldn’t be used for longer than 90 days- that’s roughly 4 months. That’s a long time for anyone to be out of school but there are a few things that you can do to make sure your children don’t miss out on too much education.

Pupils can be ‘dual registered’ which means that they will stay on the school roll at their original school but can be registered at another school too. This is handy if you’re staying in one area for a little while. As long as you keep the original school up to date with your plans then they should keep your children’s place on their school roll.

The other option is to ask your school to provide work for your children for the time you’re away. This could be a pack of worksheets that you can post back to the school when they’ve been finished. Some schools use apps or websites to give pupils homework, if you have access to the internet while you’re away then it might also be worth seeing if your school can set your children work through something like this.

Unfortunately if you’re not travelling for work then you won’t be able to use the T-code and your time travelling will most likely be marked as a holiday or an ‘unauthorised absence’. Depending on how flexible the school is and how much school your children will be missing, this could result in education welfare getting involved.

I would suggest that your best option is to have a chat with the head teacher about your plans and see if you can come up with something that works for your family and the school. It might be good to bring someone in to this meeting with you- a friend or someone from a local organisation. If you’re based in or around London then give us a call, we’d be happy to come along with you!

Make-up tip of the month: If you’re after eyeshadow palettes, it’s worth looking up a brand called ‘Morphe’. They have loads of different colours, are great quality and pretty cheap compared to other similar brands. The only downside is that I haven’t yet found a shop that sells them so you’ll have to order them online but there are a couple of decent UK based websites that you can buy them through.

Read Abi’s other advice columns on The TT website by following the links below:

Ask Abi – Back to school: Getting help with buying school uniforms and equipment.