Penyrheol Comprehensive School, Swansea, adopted an innovative approach to support pupils from Occupational Traveller families. In 2010, they launched a pilot project designed to ensure continuity of education and provide regular contact with staff and other pupils. The pilot was a success and similar provision will be made available from the summer 2011.
Penyrheol Comprehensive School in Swansea has four pupils from Occupational Traveller families. These families have parents who work on fairs around the country, during the summer season from around April until the October half term. As the pupils travel and work with their parents they miss a great deal of school. This has a significant impact on their academic attainment and their ability to re-integrate into school life after several months of absence. To help alleviate this problem, the school, in conjunction with Swansea traveller education service, ran a pilot project last year with a Year 7 pupil.
The school considered a number of ways in which closer contact could be maintained with the pupil when his family were travelling. Possibilities were discussed with his parents before a final strategy was agreed.
The pupil was provided with a laptop computer to take with him when his family were out of the area and his parents agreed to purchase a device to provide him with Wi-Fi internet access. The Year 7 pastoral assistant kept in regular contact with the boy and his family via email and ensured that work in all subjects was sent to him electronically, with deadlines for when this should be returned. This system worked very effectively.
The pupil was also able to stay in regular electronic contact with his friends from school and his form tutor and this was invaluable in helping a smooth return after a long period of absence. It also enabled some continuity of education. Because of the successful impact of this pilot project on the pupil’s academic achievement and his social skills, the school intends to make similar provision for all its other pupils from Occupational Traveller families when work takes them away from the area in the summer of 2011.