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PUPIL PREMIUM - Support for the Roma Community
A high proportion of Roma students join Dale having no prior knowledge or experience of schooling. Consequently, a lack of trust towards the ‘Gaja’ (non-Roma) is a major barrier when initially supporting these pupils. In an attempt to overcome this difficulty and change the communities’ perspectives on academic success, one of the Inclusion team has the role of Roma link worker and funding is used to buy in specialist language support from the LEA’s Traveller Community Team. Our link worker has learnt basic Roma phrases in order to start communicating with the children and their families to show how their culture and heritage is as important as any other community and families are invited into the Community Room to build positive relationships and support them with applications for various types of external support. As the community have begun to feel more comfortable and trusting of school, we have seen an increase in pupil attendance and greater levels of pupil engagement.
‘Mrs Holness helped me get into Dale school’ – D.B
‘My mum trusts you because you have helped family, my community trusts you' – J.H
‘My family trusts you because you have helped me since I was 8 years old’ – O.H
ASPIRATIONS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Raising the expectations of the Roma children was a significant challenge for the school. The community put no emphasis on formal education and see more importance in educating children in order to pass on family traditions. An integral part of the Roma link worker’s role is to emphasise the importance of schooling and reinforce the school’s expectations to encourage the children to take pride in their learning and subsequently their achievements. All staff ensure that Roma pupils are not segregated and this has established greater levels of trust with the Roma families as they know that their children are treated in exactly the same way as everyone else. The Roma community have historically faced persecution and discrimination and this is still evident in communities throughout the U.K. Due to this we make conscious efforts that all Roma children are encouraged to take every opportunity given to develop and succeed on an academic and personal basis, whilst taking pride in who they are and where they come from.
‘You have always made me laugh and you have made me proud of who I am’ – J.H
‘You inspired me to learn and try my best in every lesson, I have achieved that thanks to you’ – O.F
Our attendance expectation for the Roma community is 95% and is the same for all pupils in school. Our inclusion team monitor each child’s attendance and ensure immediate phone calls are made or home visits take place, to reinforce the importance that children must attend school expectations are reinforced. The Traveller Team support school in corresponding with families to ensure Roma children can participate in school trips and other extra-curricular experiences. Children are now participating in school residential trips as far afield as France.