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!
Q. My son is getting bullied at school for being a Gypsy and the teachers aren’t stopping it, they say it’s just kids messing around and that he’s fighting too. We just had a meeting with the head teacher and they said that I could pull him out of school and go for home education. If I do this then how do I get a tutor for my son? I want him to get a good level of schooling, I’m just not sure that school is the right place for him if he’s just getting bullied there.
A. It really doesn’t sound like the school are doing what they should be to tackle racist bullying.
How does your son feel about his current school? If the school tackle the bullying properly then would he feel comfortable staying there? Schools should have an anti-bullying policy that explains how they tackle racism, you can ask for another meeting with the head for them to explain their policy and to come up with steps to stop the bullying that your son is getting. If they’re not following their policy then it’s probably worth challenging them on why this is. If you’re not confident writing a formal letter to the head then we’d be happy to help you with this.
If your son really doesn’t want to stay, have you considered a move to another local school? It’s completely understandable if you’re nervous about trusting another school to look after your son but a new school might be a good change. You can arrange a meeting with the new school to ask them about their anti-bullying policy and how they will make sure that your son is kept safe and happy before he starts.
In either case it might be worth asking a friend, relative or someone from a local organisation to come with you. If you’re based in or around London then give us a call or an email and we’d be happy to come along with you!
Did the school explain how home education works to you? Basically, ‘elective home education’ means that the school and local authority give all responsibility for your child’s education over to you. This means that you’ll need to find and pay for a tutor and you’ll need to buy books and other resources. For some families this can work, but it’s hard work and can be expensive. If you want your son to take any exams or get any qualifications you will also have to pay for these and find places where he can take exams. Some areas have support for families who are home educating but a lot of areas don’t. In some areas someone from the local authority might come and visit you twice a year to see how you’re getting on, but again in a lot of areas this won’t happen and you’ll be left to get on with it!
There are groups on Facebook for families who home educate to share tips and answer each other’s questions, it might be a good idea to join one and speak to some parents who are doing it before you make a decision? We started a Facebook group called ‘Gypsy Traveller home education’; anyone is welcome to join and share ideas or talk about their experiences.
If you do decide to go for home education then you would be able to change your mind and put him back into school at any time, it just might take a little longer than if he was already on a school roll.
All the best in making your decision!
Tip of the month: Coconut oil! As well as being great to cook with, coconut oil is super handy for hair and beauty- I use it to remove really stubborn eyeliner, as a deep conditioning treatment for hair and as a moisturiser for skin. The fact that it leaves me smelling like a holiday is a bonus! You can buy it from most supermarkets, some brands are pretty expensive but you can usually find a decent jar of it for under £5.
Read Abi’s other education advice columns below:
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!