In UK schools, information about pupils’ ethnic backgrounds is collected and used to monitor progress and achievement. It is a statutory requirement that all schools collect this information for every child. This means schools have to collect ethnicity data by law.
Parents have the right to decide whether or not to give this information to the school and the school cannot make an ascription decision for a family without the family’s consent. It is advised that schools offer support to parents to help them understand why they are being asked to provide the information.
When a child first joins a UK school, the parents will be asked to ascribe to the ethnic group they feel best represents their family’s background. Children who are in secondary school (11-16 years old) can do this for themselves though it is recommended they do so with the support of their families.
How is this relevant to GRT pupils?
Data held on cohort sizes for children from Gypsy and Roma backgrounds (WROM) or Travellers of Irish Heritage (WIRT) generally present much lower numbers than local knowledge suggests is the true picture. Some GRT families may choose to ascribe as White British (WBRI), Irish (WIRI) or possibly White Other (WOTH) if they are of Eastern European Roma heritage. This can mean it is difficult for schools to accurately identify all their GRT pupils.
One reason why it is important to collect ascription data is because it is used to monitor the progress and achievement of different groups of pupils to make sure none is disadvantaged. Another is that correct ascription can provide GRT families with access to dual registration and the use of the T code, which is used to authorise absences under specific circumstances. These benefits may be particularly relevant to many GRT families.