Forum created to support Gypsy, Roma & Traveller learners

Go Higher West Yorkshire is working with Leeds Gypsy & Traveller Exchange (LeedsGATE) to lead on the establishment of a regional multi-sector stakeholder forum for supporting Gypsy, Roma & Traveller (GRT) learners.

The first meeting took place on Thursday, 7 October, with attendees from a range of settings including HE, FE, schools and colleges, local authorities, and NGOs working with GRT communities in West Yorkshire.  

We began by setting the forum within the wider educational context for GRT learners, discussing recent findings that GRT pupils have the lowest educational attainment of all ethnic groups, the highest rates of school exclusion, and the lowest rates of progression to HE: just 3-4% of GRT young people compared to 43% of the general population. Despite this, only 5% of HE providers’ Access & Participation Plans mention supporting access to HE for GRT learners, and GHWY is one of only two Uni Connect partnerships with a stated focus on GRT learners. 

Further discussion centred on the Draft Action Plan developed by LeedsGATE, an exhaustive list of action points for educational stakeholders across the region. From this discussion, a number of priority actions were identified for the forum to work towards in the short term, including: 

  1. Staff CPD and training 
  2. Sharing examples of good practice within and beyond the forum 
  3. Improving local data so stakeholders are able to better identify and prioritise GRT learners, and schools/colleges with large GRT cohorts, for support 
  4. Organising for as many institutions as possible to take the GTRSB Into HE pledge 
  5. Decolonising the curriculum in HE providers, and looking for ways to broaden this work into the pre-HE curriculum 

There was a great deal of enthusiasm within the group for taking action to embed effective support for young Gypsy, Roma and Traveller learners in our settings, however forum members felt they lacked knowledge of the specific needs of these learners; therefore, points 1. and 2. are key priorities. 

The next forum meeting will take place on Monday, 22 November between 2.30-4pm on MS Teams. All are welcome to attend. If you, or a colleague, have an interest in working collaboratively with a range of stakeholders to improve the educational experiences of young Gypsy, Roma and Traveller learners in West Yorkshire, then please contact Janet Brown for further information.