On the 26th of June, London Gypsies and Travellers held an insightful exhibition, ‘Mapping the Histories of London’s travellers’, which shed light on the unique contributions made by Romany Gypsies, Irish Travellers and Travelling Showpeople to London’s social, economic and cultural life since the 19th century. Centred around the geography of nomadic life in London over time, the exhibition uncovered the ways in which the histories of Gypsies and Travellers are directly tied to the evolution of London.
Yet, Gypsies and Travellers still face inequalities and social exclusion within the city, and the existing gaps in accessible information foster the ‘invisiblization’ of these issues. With the project ‘Mapping the Pathway to Equalities’, Mapping for Change has been collaborating with London Gypsies and Travellers to build a more accurate picture of Gypsies and Travellers’ presence and the issues that they face in London.
Lately, we explored information made available by the Department of Education to investigate the school discrimination faced by Gypsy/Roma and Irish Travellers pupils. School discrimination is arguably one of the mere issue encountered by these communities. Tyler, who is the Youth Outreach Worker for London Gypsies and Travellers, attests to the progressive disappearance of Traveller Education Services which ensured children could keep up with their peers. Besides the lack of support in education for these communities, evidence has also shown that Gypsy and Traveller children remain the group most at risk in the education system, according to a report lead by the Equality and Human Right commission in 2009 (page 91).
Given these accounts, our latest map aims to shed light on the differences in the percentage of exclusions at school between Gypsy and Roma, Irish Traveller, Black African and Caribbean and White British pupils. We use ‘fixed period exclusion’ as our metric, which refers to all temporary exclusions from school, up to 45 school days. We find that in most boroughs, pupils who are most likely to be temporarily excluded from school are Gypsy/Roma or Irish Travellers pupils. We also find that the school attendance of these pupils’ significantly varies by boroughs. Where they do not attend, despite the presence of Gypsy and Traveller communities, White British pupils remain the group which faces the smallest exclusion rates, compared to Black Caribbean and African pupils. These results echo the recent findings of a government report, published in 2019, showing that school exclusion is not an issue merely faced by pupils from the Gypsy and Traveller communities but other ethnic minorities are also disproportionately affected.
Written by Perrine Machuel