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Many North Cork Traveller children still facing barriers to education, study finds

27 Sep 2023
  • New research finds many children are experiencing ‘high levels’ of disadvantage.
  • The study explores the barriers to education for Traveller children from their parents’ perspectives.
  • The report outlines 20 recommendations.

A new report reveals the significant barriers to education faced by Traveller children living in the north Cork region, with many children still experiencing ‘high levels of disadvantage’ across the region.

The Travellers of North Cork report, undertaken by Dr Patricia McGrath at Adult Continuing Education at University College Cork (UCC), examines the pressing issues affecting the Travelling Community and shares their experiences of the barriers to progression from one level of education to the next.

Dr Patricia McGrath said: "Historically, Irish Traveller children have encountered significant disadvantages within the Irish education system. Despite the Government's commitment to reducing this disadvantage and improving progression rates to Further and Higher education, this research finds that barriers to education persist for Traveller children in primary and secondary schools. It is essential to address these challenges throughout a child's life journey, ensuring schools have adequate resources to support Traveller children.”

“With the necessary supports in place, Traveller children ought to transition successfully from primary to secondary schools, levelling the playing field to give them the opportunity to progress to further and higher education and achieve their full potential,” Dr Patricia McGrath said.

Key findings in the report include:

  • The study has highlighted a scarcity of National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) assessments in primary schools, which is essential for identifying and addressing additional educational needs.
  • The report emphasises the absence of Traveller Cultural Awareness Training in schools and in the curriculum, contributing to non-inclusive environments where children feel marginalized.
  • Schools that acknowledge and celebrate Traveller Culture are highlighted as welcoming environments and models of good practice for others to follow.
  • The research identifies the lack of Traveller Cultural awareness in teacher training colleges, calling for the inclusion of trauma-informed practices and Traveller Culture Awareness in teacher training programs.
  • Some schools still segregate children into Traveller-only classrooms, a practice that should have been eliminated in the past.
  • The report found that early school leaving is encouraged, with some teachers actively encouraging children to leave school once they reach the legal age of sixteen.
  • Low expectations of Traveller children in schools perpetuate barriers to progression from primary to secondary education and beyond.

The report makes 20 recommendations to improve the educational experience and rates of progression for Traveller children, including that all schools should have Traveller Cultural Awareness Training; all schools should actively promote cultural identity, diversity and inclusion for all children, and specific funding should be made available for schools to support Traveller students to progress in education.

The report is being launched on Wednesday, 27 September at UCC. 


University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF