Research on Roma Pupils

About the research

This research was undertaken by Mark Penfold from Babington College, Leicester. It was carried out in 2014 and updated in July 2016.

The project aim was to identify background information required to understand the education needs of pupils from the new migrant Roma communities and bring together best practice and practical strategies to help meet these needs. Additionally, it was an investigation into whether a distinctive approach was needed when working with pupils from the new migrant Roma communities from that already in place for the indigenous British Gypsy, Roma, Traveller (GRT) populations.

It examined issues surrounding ascription. (Ascription, in the context of this research, means the way schools define and record the ethnic origins of their pupils in order to establish if some groups are subject to unintentional discrimination.) The focus on ascription was to determine if there was a correlation between high levels of ascription and better attendance and achievement.

This group was chosen for the study because they are known to be the lowest-achieving cohort nationally, according to RAISEonline. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the numbers of pupils in this group is vastly underestimated in official figures and they pose resource and engagement challenges which some schools find difficult to respond to successfully.

Research methodology

A literature review was carried out. There had been few studies or documents focused purely on pupils from the new migrant Roma communities. Most of the literature concentrated on long-standing indigenous GRT communities with occasional references to the new migrant populations. Very little of the literature reviewed was more than five years old.

Schools with pupils from the new migrant Roma communities were asked to provide attendance and achievement data on pupils ascribed as Roma and pupils known to be Roma but not ascribed as such.

Parents and pupils from the new migrant Roma communities, teachers from the schools and consultants providing advice and support to schools were interviewed. Six major cities were visited between June 2014 and January 2015.