Gypsies and Travellers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:12 pm on 10th September 2018.

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Photo of Kit Malthouse Kit Malthouse Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 10:12 pm, 10th September 2018

I will move on to planning issues in a moment, so I will address the hon. Gentleman’s question then, if I may.

The third area that my hon. Friend the Member for South West Bedfordshire raised was educational outcomes. He made a very important point. It is shocking when we consider the educational outcomes of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children. I am concerned by the findings of the Children’s Commissioner for England that he mentioned. Every child has the right to access all the opportunities that modern-day Britain has to offer, including an adequate education. We expect schools to have data and evidence-led approaches to support all their pupils, whatever their background. Parents are responsible for ensuring that children of compulsory school age receive a suitable full-time education. One way they can do that is through home education, rather than regular school attendance, and the Government support the right of parents to home education. However, if it appears that a child is not receiving a suitable education at home, local authorities can enforce school attendance through school attendance orders.

However, as my hon. Friend mentioned, there is more to do. That was why in January this year the Department for Education established the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller stakeholder group to inform policy development. In March we launched a review of exclusions, exploring why certain pupil groups, including Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils, are over-represented in exclusion statistics. In January my Department launched a 2018-19 pilot programme to improve the integration of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, including by raising educational outcomes. As part of the Department for Education’s careers strategy, all those groups and their young people were listed as one of three target groups in a £1.7 million call for projects testing ways of providing vulnerable groups with guidance on routes into careers.