Cork City Partnership supports two programmes of activities in relation to education provision for traveller children in Cork City. The programmes are concentrated in schools which are in close proximity to the Traveller Halting Sites in the city.
1. Primary Homework.
CCP grant aids two schools, one northside and one in the southside, to provide the facilities and supports required for Traveller children attending primary school to complete their homework.
Each club also provides an opportunity for the selected children to engage in after club fun activities. The parents are also required to have an input into the learning and social elements of the club.
The two schools report on the success of this intervention:
‘This club caters for the needs of our most vulnerable and marginalised pupils and also acts as a central focus in outreaching to the parents and families of these children’
‘…..the club will greatly increase these pupil’s chances of engaging successfully with the teaching and learning process’
In 2015/2016: 23 Female , 15 male students participated in this programme.
2. Traveller Mentoring Programme.
This programme is overseen by the Inter-Agency Education Sub-committee with Cork City Partnership having a lead role. Members of the committee include: Cork City Partnership, Cork ETB, Cork City Children Company, Cork City Council, Cork Traveller Visibility Group, UCC,CIT and the NEWB. The committee met regularly in 2013 to direct and monitor the programme and explore innovative ways to enhance the work of the mentors.
In 2015/16 five 2nd level schools participated in the programme. The mentors are appointed by the schools and are usually part of the teaching staff. The mentors are fully funded by the Mentoring Programme and mentoring time is allocated to each school according to the number of Traveller students attending. In three of the schools, the School Completion Project oversees the programme.
The mentor’s role is to build a trusting relationship with traveller students to support and facilitate greater participation and achievement in education for young travellers. The mentor’s daily activities include meeting and greeting students in the morning, ensuring that students have appropriate materials for class, proper uniform, knowing their time table, etc. Academic support is offered to students when needed. The mentors occupy an educational position as part of the school staff and have responsibilities toward the overall running of the school. Issues such as attendance and examination attendance can pose challenges for both the school and the mentors.
Other key aspects of the programme in 2015/16 are:
- Parental involvement in specific programmes held in the school
- A very successful Traveller Art programme was funded to complement the work of the mentoring programme in the four schools. The programme was designed and delivered by a qualified Art teacher who is also a member of the Traveller community. The pupils were encouraged to create a piece of art work that demonstrates their individual hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future, specifically in relation to their education. The programme culminated in an exhibition of their work in the foyer of the Cork Civic Offices building. The students, their teachers and families were invited to attend the launch.
In 2015/16 67 students, 40 female and 27 male benefitted from the mentoring programme. 10 parents were directly involved with the mentoring programme.