Dad took children out of school to ‘lay tarmac’ in Corfu
In “dad’s gypsy ruse” the Sun tells of Michael Baker, who told the school his children were gypsies to avoid a fine for taking them out of school during term time.
Baker, 34, used a “loophole” allowing traveller kids to miss school for “occupational reasons”.
He told school chiefs he drove around the country laying tarmac.
They then granted permission for his two sons, aged seven and 11, to miss a week of classes at Cheveley primary in Cambs.
The paper days that “jobless Michael” actually took the family to Corfu, where it’s not thought he laid any tarmac.
“It was approved within an hour. They didn’t ask what kind of traveller I was. I wonder if they were worried about offending me.”
Joseph Jones, of the Gypsy Council, wonders:
“What’s next? He says he’s part Chinese to get Chinese New Year off?”
The story ends by noting that Baker, of Newmarket, Suffolk, now faces a fraud investigation by Cambridgeshire County Council.
The Government’s advice is thus:
Code T: Gypsy, Roma and Traveller absence
A number of different groups are covered by the generic term Traveller – Roma, English and Welsh Gypsies, Irish and Scottish Travellers, Showmen (fairground people) and Circus people, Bargees (occupational boat dwellers) and New Travellers. This code should be used when Traveller families are known to be travelling for occupational purposes and have agreed this with the school but it is not known whether the pupil is attending educational provision. It should not be used for any other types of absence by these groups.To help ensure continuity of education for Traveller children it is expected that the child should attend school elsewhere when their family is travelling and be dual registered at that school and the main school. Children from these groups whose families do not travel are expected to register at a school and attend as normal. They are subject to the same rules as other children in terms of the requirement to attend school regularly once registered at a school.
Note: a 2010 Government report found that “almost half of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils and only 38 per cent of Traveller pupils of Irish heritage reach statutory leaving age. Furthermore, the data shows that pupils from all Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities are still likely to withdraw from the school system at particular points during KS 3 and, to a lesser extent, during Year 10.”
“The mental age of an average adult Gypsy is thought to be about that of a child of 10,” said the 1959 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 14 years after the end of the Nazi genocide of Romany Gypsies. This week new analysis of the 2011 census has been released by the Office for National Statistics. It revealed that of the 58,000 people who identified themselves as being of Gypsy/Traveller ethnicity, 60% had no formal qualifications whatsoever. This is almost three times higher than the figure for England and Wales as a whole, which is 23%.
It’s a depressing picture that will be all too familiar to those still specialising in Traveller education, following severe government cuts to provisions. Progress seems horribly slow since the 1967 Plowden report, when things were nonetheless far worse: fewer than 10% of Gypsy and Traveller children went to school at all, and almost all adults were completely illiterate.”
Should they not be allowed to maintain their traditions unmolested by the authorities?
An investigation by Traveller’s Times can reveal that Traveller education in London has been devastated by the government-imposed cuts. With 12 council-run Traveller education support teams abolished since 2007 – out of a total of 32 – and with front-line staff halved from 60 to 30, this makes London the worst affected region in England….
“People need to be told that these services are being threatened,” says Jason McCarthy, an Irish Traveller from Ealing. “I was helped by Traveller education. I have a seven month old son and I want him to get educated too.”“My father wasn’t happy with me going to secondary school. I could read and write and he didn’t see the point of me carrying on,” she says. “But my dad completely changed his mind about education when I got my qualifications and got a job,” she says. “He is proud of me now and tells my sisters to go to school to get their papers. And that is a shocking thing to have happened if you knew him,” she says.
Such are the facts.