Gypsy students in the UK: the impact of ‘mobility’ on education

Martin Myers

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This paper argues that Gypsy students in primary and secondary education in the UK are marginalised because of ambiguous understandings of their ‘mobility’. Drawing on research conducted on the South coast of England it examines Gypsy families’ experiences of education. Despite often describing their identity in relation to travelling or mobility, few families’ lifestyles were characterized by actual movement or nomadism. Teachers and educationalists meanwhile cite the need to deliver a ‘mobile’ rather than a ‘sedentary’ education for Gypsy students. The Department for Communities and Local Government recently defined Gypsy ethnicity in direct relation to a nomadic lifestyle (DCLG 2015). This is problematic as the association between Gypsy ethnicity and nomadism is itself questionable and may be better understood in more nuanced terms reflecting the relationship between identity and ‘mobility’. This paper argues that ‘mobility’ is understood to define Gypsy difference in a way that excludes students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-369
Number of pages17
JournalRace Ethnicity and Education
Issue number3
Early online date3 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


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