The defining mission of this Government is delivering excellence and equity in Scottish education in order to raise the bar for all our children and young people and to close the attainment gap. That is why I cannot accept the poor educational experiences and outcomes that some children and young people from travelling cultures have.
Together we share a moral and statutory duty to deliver the right to an education and a positive educational experience for all Traveller children and young people. To do this we must first recognise, understand and address the barriers to realising educational potential that some of these children and young people may face. This is not an easy task but we know that by making changes we can deliver improvements.
Across the country we are seeing the rewards of the collaborative efforts of some local authorities, schools and Traveller families. We are hearing inspirational stories of positive educational experiences, improved attainment and better life chances for some of our young Travellers. But this remains the exception rather than the norm. And so alongside this guidance, we are investing in a new programme of work delivered by the Scottish Traveller Education Programme to provide practical advice and support and to encourage and share best practice across the country.
We know that to rise to this challenge we need a collective effort: an effort that brings together those who deliver the education service with those whose lives can be enhanced through it; an effort which seizes the opportunities afforded by family engagement from the very start of a child's learning journey to beyond school age; and an effort that might need to start not in school, but in the community. And we know that our efforts must be based on respectful communication, strong relationships and ultimately trust.
We all need to work together, and ensure that we raise our collective expectations of what can be achieved. We all have a part to play - local authorities, education authorities, early learning and childcare providers, educators, school staff, careers advisers, further and higher education providers, children and young people, their parents and families, communities, the third sector. Our education system must include and welcome children and young people from diverse and rich travelling cultures, and adapt better to meet their needs. I want to encourage Travellers and their families to engage with and shape the Scottish education system in to one which works better for them.
This guidance aims to set the context for supporting Traveller education and to help those working with Travellers to build strong relationships and develop effective, truly inclusive educational approaches. We hope that it helps you to take the next steps towards a much improved future for Travellers in Scottish education.
Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
Email: Lynne Carter