Subject: Citizenship & Literacy
Topic: Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) History Month
Year Group: Mostly KS1 and KS2
Synopsis: Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) History Month is in June each year, and was established to raise awareness of the contribution to society of GRT communities and combat prejudices and stereotypes and it is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the differences and similarities in peoples’ lifestyles
Care needs to be taken when choosing GRT month resources as it is so important to avoid the stereotypes that seep into some well-meaning texts.
Even the terminology is problematic, with some quarters objecting to the use of the word “gypsy” but others incorporating it into the name of the month!
Young Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people can face unique and too often, difficult challenges in education and schooling. The following is taken from the www.gypsy-traveller.org website
- The Race Disparity Audit found that when compared to other ethnic groups, pupils from Gypsy, Roma and Irish Traveller backgrounds had the lowest attainment and progress, and were the least likely to stay in education after the age of 16.
- A study by the Children’s Commissioner in 2012 found Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children were four times more likely to be permanently excluded than the school population as a whole.
- In 2017, The Traveller Movement found 70% (138 out of 199 interviewed) of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller young people had experienced discrimination in some form in education.
- In 2019, Friends, Families and Travellers asked Gypsy, Roma and Traveller young people about the biggest challenges they faced in school; 86% of pupils reported the biggest challenge to be bullying, followed by racism at 72%.
As with combatting other forms of racism, the simple practice of introducing young children to different lifestyles by having stories based in these cultures can make the culture familiar and give children reference points, so when they find out that a classmate lives a traveller lifestyle, rather than being surprised and turning away, they say “Oh, just like Yokki, then”
by David G Pullar
Winner of the Friends, Families and Travellers Arts, Culture and Heritage Award 2022, David G Pullar is a professional horticulturist and chairperson at Heart of the Travellers. He wrote ‘Wee Bessie’ as a children’s picture book dedicated to the memory of his great-grandmother Betsy Whyte and narrates her childhood travels through the different seasons with her dog, Ricky and her family in Scotland. A great opportunity to embrace a way of life that most children will not know about.
The Genie and the fisherman & other tales from the travelling people (1991) and Tell me a story for Christmas (1989) by Duncan Williamson and Fireside tales for traveller children edited by Linda Williamson (2017)
Duncan Williamson has published several books of traveller tales and these volumes offer timeless tales best for reading aloud. The older editions are out of print, but available as an e-book and a new edition of Duncan Williamson’s stories, edited by his wife, Linda, was published much more recently. The tales draw on the fables traveller people use to instil morals and the knowledge of right and wrong in their children.
by Berlie Doherty
On pet day at school, Rachel, who lives on a canal barge, cannot bring Snowy, the horse who pulls her barge, and so the teacher arranges for the class to visit Snowy! The class love visiting Rachel on her barge and meeting snowy. A beautiful story that celebrates different lifestyles.
Ossiri and the Bala Mengro
by Richard O’Neill and Katharine Quarmby
Traveller child, Ossiri, wants to play music and makes herself her own instrument, but the noise she makes is not welcomed by her community! Frustrated, she takes to the hills, ignoring warnings of the ogre that lives there…
Others is the Travellers’ Tales series are Yokki and the Parno Gry, The lost homework and Polonius the Pit Pony.
Megan’s year: an Irish traveler’s story
by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Beth Peck
There are two Megans – the winter Megan who stays in one place and the summer Megan who travels around Ireland with her family of travellers. Another story that beautifully illustrates a different way of life, this time in Ireland.
The Django (2010)
by Levi Pinfold
The Django teaches young Jean to play beautiful music on the banjo but is always getting him into trouble. A story inspired by the famous French-Romani jazz musician Jean Django Reinhardt and includes a page of information about him.
Two other books for teachers:
Gypsies and travellers: a teacher’s guide (2018) by Steven Horne
The Stopping Places: a journey through Gypsy Britain by Damian Le Bas