Every Child Matters: High Quality Education for All
- United Kingdom
The Roma Education Support Trust was founded in 2012 and has since existed to promote better education outcomes for Roma heritage pupils in Europe. It aims to achieve this by working with teachers and schools to improve their skills and raise their expectations when working with Roma pupils. The Roma Education Support Trust's governance structure recognises the importance of active and efficient Roma participation: REST's president, Denisa Psenickova, is a lawyer of Czech Roma heritage; William Bila is REST's Board member without portfolio. The other Board members are: Gwendolyn Albert (secretary), Mark Penfold (Lead EAL teacher at Babington, The Leicester City Council's Advisory Teacher (GRT) and founder of REST), Lucie Fremlova (interim treasurer).
The project is based on the fact that some schools in the UK have successfully educated Roma pupils from Eastern Europe who had been deemed unable to access mainstream education in the countries of origin.
Indeed, these pupils had been declared to have “mild mental retardation” in the countries of origin yet have gained good GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) qualifications despite having to learn in the medium of a new language.
In the academic year 2012-2013, some Roma children left with 5 A* - C with English and Maths (Gold Standard) at GCSEs. The team started the process of passing the expertise, attitudes and strategies of the UK schools concerned on to one centre in the Czech Republic. In 2013-2014 they have been consolidating this process and assisting Primary school Trmice to share its new expertise with other schools in The Czech Republic. Then a blueprint will exist for improving education outcomes for Roma pupils in other countries. The primary audience is the education establishment of the Czech Republic then the education establishments of other Eastern European countries.
A UK school, Babington College, Leicester, has been found by several agencies (Report from the National Strategies Manger GRT March 2011) to be more successful at generating positive education outcomes for Eastern European Roma than most schools in the country.
The 2011 report “From segregation to inclusion” found that Babington works in a mainstream setting with Roma pupils who had been previously sent to practical schools or schools teaching Roma an inferior curriculum. The project uses the skills and knowledge of Babington to help teachers from partner schools in The Czech Republic improve their skills and expectations. This is achieved by two way teacher exchanges.
The outcome is intended to be the creation of centres of excellence at working with Roma in three Czech schools which can then act as mentors to other schools in The Czech Republic. This directly addresses the low level of education of most East European Roma.
Every child matters: High quality educations for all is a grassroots project implemented by the Roma Education Support Trust in partnership with Babington Community College, an outstanding secondary school in Leicester with 13 percent of Roma pupils on roll - mostly from Czech Republic, Primary school Trmice, Primary school Pobezovice and Primary school Graficka, Czech Republic.
The purpose of the partnership is to share information and practice so that all the schools can deliver better education to their Roma pupils and become centres of knowledge and best practice in inclusive education strategies and engaging with the Roma community, thus enabling them to help other schools improve their knowledge in these areas.
The aim of the project is to improve education outcomes for Roma pupils across Europe. This will make Roma more employable and reduce the need for trans-border mobility on economic grounds and also make it easier for Roma in Eastern Europe to be positive economic contributors to their countries of birth. The project also aims at helping countries which have received Roma migrants to educate the children more effectively.
The British Embassy Prague
Primary school Trmice
Primary school Graficka, Prague
Primary school Pobezovice
- local or regional
- A 2 year plan was submitted to the British Embassy Prague by the founding trustees of REST.
- The Embassy agreed to fund the project for the first 2 years (Feb 2012-March 2014)
- The project is based on the principle of peer mentoring, whereby a mentor (Babington) trains and upskills a menthe (Primary school Trmice in the first year) in order for the mentee to become a mentor. In the following stage, more mentee schools join in order to be trained and upskilled by the two mentors, while the first mentor also functions as an evaluator of the progress made thus far.
- Babington teachers visited Zakladni Skola Trmice three times to observe lessons, deliver training and do an impact assessment in terms of an overall evaluation of the skills acquired through the project training
- A large group of Trmice teachers visited Babington, met with Roma heritage pupils and observed their lessons.
- A smaller group of Trmice teachers visited Babington, met with Roma heritage pupils and observed their lessons.
- Babington and Trmice staff visited Primary schools Graficka and Pobezovice to explain the project and share the experience and knowledge gained so far.
- Primary school Trmice staff have set up a working group on inclusive education
- Primary school Trmice head spoke about the benefits of inclusion in education at an education conference for 50 practitioners in 2013
- Primary school Graficka teachers visited Primary school Trmice
- A large group of primary school Graficka and Primary school Pobezovice staff visited Babington
- Additionally, REST gave a conference for representatives of eight pedagogical faculties implementing teacher training familiar with most modern inclusive education strategies and methodology, baseline and on-going assessment, assessment for learning, inclusive lesson planning
Each visit has resulted in a report.
What are the keys to success of this action? :
Trust between the British and Czech schools and the key personnel from both schools has to be in place in order for all teachers involved to contribute to the project well.
The British school involved genuinely had a level of skills and commitment above the ordinary which they could share and the Czech partner school was already forward thinking but still ready to consider new approaches.
What were the main difficulties encountered?:
Surprisingly few. The key personnel involved on all sides have been very committed and established excellent relations, which provioded a real added-value.
What would you recommend to those carrying out a similar action?:
Work hard initially to establish trust and working relations between the key personnel from both systems first.
Sell the benefits of the project first.
- Publication or report