Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showmen and Boater communities

Traveller is an umbrella term which includes different groups and communities. This short animation gives an overview in brief.

Download and print this aide memoire which gives a quick-reference overview of some of the key things to know in relation to our GRT communities.

  • Gypsies are a recognised ethnic minority with an identifiable culture and language which has threads in common with Gypsies across the globe
  • Gypsies speak Romany which has its roots in Sanskrit and has some words in common with Hindi
  • Historically Hampshire has always been home to a large Gypsy community and there are several private sites throughout the county
  • Contrary to popular belief, Gypsies pay rent, taxes and amenity charges when living on private sites or in housing
  • Most Gypsies are fiercely proud of their working heritage and are either self-employed or in full-time employment
  • As with the settled community, the majority of Gypsies value education and want to ensure their children attend school and receive a suitable education
  • Roma are a recognised ethnic minority
  • Roma are a relatively new group who have migrated to the UK from across Europe
  • Roma are Gypsies and come to the UK to work as do many other migrants from across Europe and the world
  • Roma are often tri-lingual and speak the language of their country of origin, Romanes and English
  • Unlike UK Gypsies, Roma do not usually seek accommodation in caravans or on sites but live in houses as in their country of origin
  • Roma from across Europe have often experienced high levels of prejudice and persecution in their country of origin and in the UK and will not ascribe as Roma in the first instance but as Romanian, Hungarian or whatever their country of origin is
Roma Children and Families in Hampshire

EMTAS has produced a document comprising FAQ in relation to Roma children and families in Hampshire schools.

This quick-reference guide for schools gives key things to know about Roma children in education in UK schools.

Research into Roma Communities

Marc Penfold’s research paper Improving educational outcomes for pupils from the new Roma communities is published on the British Council EAL Nexus website. It's a comprehensive, readable piece of research that includes many links - readily transferable to a Primary context.

Penfold’s research provides an excellent insight into current thinking about the rates of achievement, attendance and ascription of Roma children in UK schools. Offering examples of good practice which are readily accessible and which can be implemented at any Key Stage, teachers of EAL and GRT children will find something to develop their practice and enhance provision in their school or setting.

It is worth noting that as in many works there are issues of contention. The author repeatedly states that UK Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are happy to accept the label of Gypsy when talking about their culture. However there are many instances of UK Gypsies who do not like to be known as Gypsies because of the negative connotations and prefer to be known as Travellers. Irish Travellers and Showmen are often known to take offence at being called Gypsy, so it is worth getting to know the GRT community you are working with and take nothing for granted.

Despite an occasional negative style of writing that appears to suggest that the ‘baggage’ Roma carry might include their cultural identity and sense of self, the report is well worth exploring with much to benefit the reader. The author provides many pointers and examples of good practice and insights to help understand the way Roma engage with education and how best to support that.

Not as a stand alone work but coupled with experience, good teaching practice and an openness to develop relationships with the Roma communities, you will find this research something that you return to time and again.

Eastern European Roma: Cultural Awareness

The Roma Education Support Trust is a charity working in partnership with schools in the UK and Central and Eastern Europe which have Roma pupils on roll with a view to sharing models of good practice in mainstream schooling. The A Roma Perspective document from Roma Education Support Trust website contains a wealth of information about our Roma communities.

Irish Travellers
  • Irish Travellers are a recognised ethnic minority group and although they may have their origins in Ireland, many are UK-born and raised
  • Irish Travellers have a unique culture and language distinct from Gypsies and other Travellers but are often confused with Gypsies because both groups can be seen travelling around the county in caravans
  • Irish Travellers are transient in caravans and move around the county but are also housed and not all travel
  • Media has portrayed Irish Travellers as appearing to favour flamboyant dress and loose moral behaviour which is not reflected by the Irish Travellers in Hampshire
  • Showman travel with fairs from place to place during the summer months. The traditional season runs from Easter until November, but economic needs are extending it and many do Christmas fairs and pop-up shops during the winter
  • Showman families are long-established in Hampshire and there are sites, or yards, in many locations across the county
  • Showmen adhere to the rules of the Showman’s Guild and although their work and jobs are becoming more diverse in response to tough economic climes, their culture and values remain fixed
  • Showmen are not an ethnic minority although the Showmen culture can trace its roots through the centuries to the Frost Fairs of the 17th century

Boaters are not an ethnic minority; it is seen as a lifestyle choice although many Boater families have lived on the water for generations.

There is not a history of Boater Travellers in Hampshire but neighbouring authorities Dorset, Wiltshire and Surrey are home to Boater communities and their children may attend Hampshire schools.

The children of Boaters have equal access to education. If they are in Hampshire, then EMTAS can help with admissions if they wish to enrol their child in school.

New Travellers
  • New Travellers are the newest group of Travellers and is drawn from a group of people who have elected to leave the aspects of society and to live a freer, simpler life travelling
  • Often travelling in converted buses and coaches as well as caravans, New Travellers are often very environmentally aware and focused and will make their values and concerns known at protests
  • Many New Travellers prefer rural settings and may work as artists and artisans
  • New Travellers are not an ethnic minority and it is seen as a lifestyle choice