Existing legislation (set out in section 444 (6) of the 1996 Education Act ) protects mobile traveller families where the child has no fixed abode from prosecution of their children’s non-attendance provided that the parent can prove the following:
- That he is engaged in a trade or business of such a nature as to require him to travel from place to place
- That the child has attended at a school as a registered pupil as regularly as the nature of that trade or business permits
- If the child aged six or over has attended school for at least 200 half day sessions during the period of 12 months ending with the date on which the proceedings were instituted.
The aim should always be to ensure that traveller children, in common with all other children, attend school as regularly and frequently as possible.
The minimum of 200 attendances should not be regarded as the norm. Traveller parents should aim for their children's attendance to be at least in line with their school's average attendance.
Dual registration of traveller children
To ensure the continuity of learning of traveller children, the Pupil Registration Regulations were amended to facilitate dual registration of traveller children.
This means that if the parents inform the 'base school' that the child is going to be away travelling but will return, or the school knows that the child comes from a traveller family which regularly leaves the area for a period of time, then Regulation 9** (1) (b) [registration at another school] and (g) [absence in excess of four weeks, unknown location] no longer require the pupil to be removed from the base school's register.
While a traveller child is away, the base school holds the place open and records the absence as 'authorised'.
The child is able to register with a school at their new location without losing the place at their base school.
This is known as 'dual registration'. Schools unsure of whether they are the base school or not should seek advice from the Traveller achievement service 020 8813 9715.
If a traveller child is on the school's roll, then that school receives capitation for the child for the duration of the academic year.
Therefore, if a traveller family is known to have the intention to go off travelling for a period of time, the responsibility lies with the school to prepare appropriate work for the child.
This demonstrates to the child the importance of a continuing education, and that the school is interested in the child while s/he is away.
The activities should be related to the work that the child will be missing, but consider the constraints of living and working in a trailer.
The school's MLE is an invaluable tool to assist with distance learning activities.
However, distance learning is considered to be an alternative only when attendance at local schools is not possible because of the family's travelling patterns.