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Inclusive education

School attainment of Roma pupils: From segregation to inclusion

Anecdotal evidence from a study in 2009 showed that a number of Roma children who had previously been placed in de facto segregated or special schools in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, were successfully completing primary and secondary education at integrated, mainstream schools in the UK. 

In cooperation with the Roma Education Fund, Equality conducted pilot research in 2011 on the impact of mainstream education in the UK on Roma pupils who had previously studied in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This pilot research, From From Segregation to Inclusion, is available to download and read.

The key findings are:

  1. Eighty-five percent of all the Roma pupils interviewed had been previously placed in a special school or de facto segregated school in the Czech Republic or Slovakia.

  2. The average attainment of Roma pupils (ages 9-15) in numeracy, literacy, and science at the UK mainstream schools was just below average.

  3. Only a small percentage of the overall cohort of Roma pupils (2 to 4 percent) at the UK schools surveyed were regarded as requiring special education needs because of learning difficulties or disabilities that made it more difficult for them to learn or access education than most children of the same age. For these Roma pupils, this extra or different help is given within the mainstream school.

  4. In the UK, none of the students interviewed have had a statutory assessment for special education needs, a more detailed analysis that is required when a mainstream school cannot provide all the help a child needs.

  5. A large majority of Roma students said they had experienced racist bullying or some sort of verbal abuse by their non-Roma peers at Czech and Slovak schools, as well as discriminatory or unequal treatment by their teachers, who were alleged to have punished them physically in a number of cases.

  6. Roma students in seven out of the eight locations reported that they were not experiencing any form of racism in UK schools and they believed that the teachers were kind and helpful and were willing to give them time on an individual basis.

  7. The large majority of the Roma students interviewed in the course of the research said they preferred school in the UK because of equal opportunities and the absence of racism and discrimination at UK schools.

  8. All the parents interviewed valued the overall atmosphere at school, their children’s feeling of being welcome there and their experience of equal treatment, equal opportunities, and the absence of anti-Roma racism from their children’s non-Roma peers and teachers, which they all said their children had experienced in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. They all said their children’s education and employment was one of the most powerful driving forces behind their decision to move to the UK. Many of them thought it would take generations to change the educational practices and attitudes in Slovakia and the Czech Republic and some doubted whether they would ever change. All of them believed their children’s chances to succeed later on in life were much better in Britain.

Read Equality's newsletter edition on the report and Mark Penfold's blog

Download the news release about the report in English  News release in Czech  News release in Slovak

Between 10 and 19 February 2012, Equality held eight seminars across the Czech Republic and Slovakia on the benefits of an inclusive, mainstream education for Roma children. Seven UK-based teachers and education professionals, one Roma policeman and Equality’s Lucie Fremlova engaged with 340 Czech and Slovak teachers and other education professionals and officials. Read the report on the seminars in Equality's newsletter.

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