Traveller Movements survey findings reveal education challenges young people face during COVID-19

29 June 2020

The Traveller Movement is a leading national charity deeply concerned about the widening education gap for Gypsy, Roma and Irish Traveller (GRT) pupils during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In the last eight weeks, our education and advocacy project has been inundated with requests for support as many parents are struggling to provide a suitable educational environment for their children and are finding it extremely difficult to access resources online..... writes The Traveller Movement. 

Others simply do not have access to laptops or other digital devices and do not qualify for additional support from local authorities. 

To fully understand these issues TM hosted an online survey for eight weeks to gather evidence of the impact of COVID-19 on GRT pupils. This evidence was then presented anonymously to the Education Committee’s Covid-19 Inquiry. The issues families reported to us included, inability to access to free school meals vouchers, limited access to devices, poor internet connection and inability to guide children with their tuition.  

There is growing concern that many GRT pupils will simply not return to school in September as they will have missed out on a substantial portion of this year’s education. Given the already poor educational attainment and outcomes for GRT pupils, this is simply unacceptable.

TM and others are calling on the government to provide devices to all children who need them, not just those in particular year groups or with special educational needs. We are also calling on the government to establish an inter-departmental strategy to promote the social inclusion of Gypsy, Roma and Travellers in education, health and social care.


 Survey Findings  


Q: How did the school provide resources?


‘Other’ includes:  

School provided exercise books; provided online lessons; online links plus a physical pack; packs sent home; work made available on school website; laptops provided in some instances; online teaching rather than resources.  



Q: Are you having difficulties accessing or using these resources?




Among the comments provided:  

Difficulty with reading and assisting children with their homework; no laptops in our house; wifi connection is poor or non-existent; work is not suitably differentiated; child doesn’t have a laptop and must complete homework on a phone; can’t do secondary school work; child has been given too much work from school; second-hand laptop is slow and without latest operating system; no access to a printer; difficulties uploading homework to the website; cannot use a computer.  



Q: If your children were receiving free school meals, are you now getting vouchers?


‘Other’ includes: many parents stated the vouchers were not accessible and the issuing site (Eden red) crashed repeatedly. Other parents told us that schools never sent vouchers home.  


Q: Which of the following do you not have but need to teach your children at home?




‘Other’ includes: access to a laptop, access to WIFI and difficulty in paying internet bills.