To analyse the impact of mainstream UK education on Roma students who were previously placed in special or segregated schools/classes in Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Desk based research was carried out on special education systems in Czech Republic and Slovakia and the situation of Roma within them. Data was collected between June and August 2011 and consisted of separate focus groups with Roma pupils and parents and semi-structured interviews with education staff across 8 locations in England, including Rotherham. 114 interviews were conducted:
85% of the pupils interviewed had been placed in segregated schools in their country of origin but only a tiny minority had special educational needs [SEN] and there was very little difference in attainment in the UK system between Roma pupils who had attended these schools and those who had not. Furthermore Roma pupils were achieving successfully in the UK system at just below the national average. There was evidence that once Roma pupils had integrated into the classroom in the UK there were fewer problems regarding community cohesion in and out of school. Both Roma parents and pupils reported feeling welcomed at UK schools, that there was an absence of discrimination and that teachers were helpful and supportive. UK schools and colleges have developed significant experience in working with Roma over the past two decades such that they represent some of the best practice in Europe.
To draw together sources of information and conduct research on the situation of European Roma in South Yorkshire in recent years.
The research undertook 35 semi-structured interviews with Slovak Roma individuals and families in Rotherham and Sheffield and two informal focus groups with 17 young Roma people in Rotherham and Sheffield. A formal focus group and event in Rotherham was attended by 73 Slovak Roma.
The report reviews the national context and recent history of Roma in South Yorkshire, focusing on Barnsley. The enlargement of the EU is discussed and available data on numbers and population of Roma provided. The research focused on housing and related issues: private sector housing, education and health, racism and harassment and work. It is argued that European Roma face multiple disadvantages in housing, education and other spheres of life.
Chiefly, the report recommends consultation and participation of Roma people in the policy-making and implementation process. Recommendations are aimed at public sector bodies and relate to quality and regulation of housing and accommodation, information on employment rights, understanding banking, funding for schools, raising awareness of Roma issues, and research to improve knowledge of Roma populations.