Village Hall, 12th April
Oxford, Mr. Hebborn's Fairground, 10th April
Corby, Northants. 6th
- 10th March
Oxford Traveller Education
Service 5th March.
Rat Lay-by, near Fairmile
Hospital, Cholsey, Oxfordshire. 3 - 4th March.
Hannington Lane, near
Basingstoke 28 February - 2nd March
'Beirut', near Bovington
Camp, Bere Regis
The Picnic Site, near Bovington
Camp, Bere Regis 19th - 24th February
Dolly's Dump 13th
- 19th February.St Keverne, Cornwall
Slough Green Caravan Park,
Somerset. 4th February - 7th February
Calstock, Cornwall. 1st
February - 3rd February
Hangar 42, Aston Down Airfield;
19th-22nd of January
Dylwyn Hall, nr. Leominster,
Herefordshire; 17th of January
|Last update 02-10-2003
Village Hall, 12th April
This event that we took part
in was organized by Herefordshire Traveller's Play Scheme. We counted
17 children altogether during the two day session. What worked especially
well was having other activities available for the children to do when
they were waiting for a turn at a particular piece of software or had
got bored of the computers. There were plenty of things to choose from
to get involved in, this event was the Easter event and they could paint
eggs, hunt for treasure, make chocolate crispy cakes or decorate eggs
and baskets. We took notice of the way their group works, they have
three adults and two teenage helpers, in this way there are always enough
people to help out if there is a problem to be sorted out. Also at lunchtime
they make a meal together and all go off and eat it quietly outside
or in another part of the building, this meant that we actually all
got to have lunch together for a change!
Again to demonstrate how we can
generate enough power for our own needs we parked the vehicles outside
the doors and ran cables in through the windows. At the request of the
Play Scheme workers we did a talk on the power sources to start with.
Our network came in very handy
here as so many children were using Art packages and wanting to print
Mr. Hebborn's Fairground, 10th April
This particular format we had
never tried before as the people living there had always asked us onto
sites. Here however, the Oxford Traveller Education Service invited
us through a referral. Although this was at first a little strange it
did seem a logical way of working, the Traveller Education Service in
question had of course spent time in building a working relationship
with the families and knew a lot more about what their needs were than
we could possibly gather in a short time. We were directed to these
families because the children were out of school, they were just beginning
their summer tour and the children would have very little chance to
catch up with their homework during the busy summer months.
We chose to provide one classroom
vehicle with four laptops. Generator X provided these plus staff and
There was quite a lot of interest
in this way of working from the local Teachers involved with this group.
It is interesting to point out that in terms of cultural divides we
had two 'types' of Travellers working together for the greater good
and this is something we are proud of.
Generally it was noted that the
children had very good concentration spans and were enthusiastic. These
particular children have to use distance-learning packs to keep up with
their schoolwork as they only attend 50% of the time. The 'special'
teachers are responsible for making sure that this work schedule is
adhered to. 8 children benefited altogether on this day that we attended.
Northants. 6th - 10th March
The Corby site was about the
same size as last year, nearly 100 vehicles including trailers. Many
of the children recognised us from last year and were keen to get stuck
in. We had a wonderful spot for wind and sun, the tech made such a stunning
display we even had some kids from the local housing estate come round
to check us out!
We discovered to our amazement,
that there was another site in Corby on the other side of town and it's
been there for two and a half years! We went round and made sure that
everyone was fully aware of what we had to offer and how long we would
be around for. Quite a few of the families came round for a day out
and spent the whole day working on the computers. At the end of our
stay in Corby we travelled to Peterborough at the request of the Multicultural
Education Team to advise them on New Travellers' educational needs.
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|Oxford Traveller Education Service 5th March.
We knew some people in Oxford
who let us use their phone line to upload/download. We also had a meeting
with the T.E.S. worker Kathy Turner. 11 years' experience has given
her a comfortable outlook and full awareness of the great progress that
has been made in accessing educational opportunities for Travellers.
Kathy also teaches a lot of Fairground children during the summer months
and was able to identify 2 particularly enthusiastic families who wanted
to learn about using computers. (One of these families has already bought
themselves a computer). There are also quite a few Irish travellers
of mixed literacy levels in the area keen to start a process of IT learning
and so thankfully Kathy is now writing to the site owners permission
for us to pull on for a day at each site to pave the way for the new
Oxford County Council Computer bus. This has been funded through the
Learning and Skills Council and will provide mobile computer facilities
for all the Travellers in the Oxford Area. Two IT Teachers and a Project
Leader will be appointed and the vacancies are being advertised now.
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Lay-by, near Fairmile Hospital, Cholsey, Oxfordshire. 3 - 4th March.
There were two families parked
up within a 5 mile radius of this lay-by and we couldn't gain access
to either park up so we found a mutually convenient lay -by, set up
the solar panels and opened up the classrooms. Both families attended
with their 9 children in total and were very keen. All of the sessions
were after school hours which meant cramped conditions at the end of
the day! We extended our sessions until 7pm to give them maximum time
using the software which they were so obviously getting so much out
of. One family we had worked with the previous year and their literacy
levels had risen appropriately even considering they had been living
in lay -bys in cramped conditions.
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|Hannington Lane, near Basingstoke 28 February - 2nd March.
We arrived in the dark but managed
to find somewhere to park out of everyone's way. They were expecting
us so our 4 vehicle arrival wasn't too dramatic for them. There were
about 4 children living permanently on the site although during the
holiday up to 8 children were around. One boy had been moved on 3 times
in the last school year and he had done the Tudor Project at each new
school! His mother asked us to do some work on Egypt to help him catch
up in his school year, of course we were happy to look out anything
we could find and we printed history and architectural material
from the World Guide and 3D Atlas. One lad spent a long time perfecting
his CD music mix, he was one of the most confident computer users we
have yet encountered. At his Dad's house where he spends some of his
time there is a PC which illustrates exactly how regular use of IT equipment
is relative to acquired skills.
The site was taken over 2 years
ago so a lot of people were really settled and grass grew under some
of the trailers!There was a big shed in the middle where people cut
their wood out of the rain and a hefty gate to keep the kids off the
road. We had worries that the famous rat population might chew some
of our wires but everything was still in order when we left so we seemed
to have been lucky!
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near Bovington Camp, Bere Regis
Called Beirut on account of the
noise pollution. The site is in the vicinity of a military training
base, a gliding club and clay pigeon shooting range. Helicopters fly
overhead with Land Rovers on chains, cannons go off over the hedge
just a hundred yards away, shooting goes on for hours and planes glide
over the buses and trucks. The sky is filled with the noises of war
We only found out about this
site after we had parked up at the picnic site and as we only had a
few days to offer we transported the children by car from one site to
the other (only a mile). The children (about 12) were very enthusiastic
to come and use the equipment and we had to limit ourselves to four
at a time to maximise the children's concentration potential and our
teaching quality. As there were so many of them we had to be quite strict
about how long they spent on each sitting and be on the ball for queue
jumpers and under-agers!
We have more than one copy of
some of our software and it was quite interesting to see how the students
wanted to compete with each other. Our LAN (local area network) has
so far meant that only two computers can share the same printer as we
have had quite a lot of technical difficulties and little time to sort
them out, however, as we have two vehicles and two printers, it is possible
to assign groups of children to another task and thay can create away
to their hearts' content as long as the ink and paper holds out (paint
shop pro.). A very popular activity is to make birthday cards for people
on site. One boy from this site was so keen to practise his MCing that
we allowed him extra time to produce his mix, he spent about four and
a half hours working on it using headphones so that he didn't disturb
anyone else, he spent hours working on his lyrics and it was a shame
to have to take him home. We wondered when his concentration would have
Having to say goodbye is one
of the hardest challenges to overcome on this project. It can be so
rewarding making a difference to some young person's life and also quite
heartbreaking having to move on and watch the dissapointment take it's
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Picnic Site, near Bovington Camp, Bere Regis 19th - 24th February.
A very cramped site, too muddy
in the field for us to pull onto the grass. Just as well, as the rain
came and we would never have got out again. We managed to pull onto
the main drag, shuffle a few vehicles around and squeeze in end to end
for an action packed four day slot! The children here were quick off
the mark as many of them had used the computers last year on Phase 1
and knew to make the most of the precious time. The new software was
very popular - mixing dance and hip-hop tunes and burning them onto
CD's for take - home momentos. Luckily for them our visit coincided
with the weekend so we were able to make full use of the sunny days.
Again on this site we found a
lady with four children who would like to set up an after - school computer
club for her site, so we did some training, - putting up a wind generator
and a basic introduction to Windows and Word Processing. (Phase 2 aims
and objectives )
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|Dolly's Dump 13th - 19th February.St Keverne, Cornwall
Formerly called Scrimshaws, as
everyone working at the Scrimshaws' daffodil farm used to park up there
for the season of picking. Last year, the season was very poor and a
lot of Travellers stayed on in the hope that they would recover their
losses this year. The site is a maze of hard standing in between the
gorse bushes and so fire safety is an important issue especially when
so many vehicles are trying to pull on at the moment. It was formerly
owned by the RAF and allegedly the land owner now tolerates the occupiers
and even pays the fine! Local people seem friendly and helpful.
There were approximately 40 vehicles
parked and about 10 children living there, all of whom were settled
in the local school. It took a few days for everyone to 'warm up' and
get used to our presence but once things got going we were busy during
the day with adults and in the after school hours with children. We
were blessed with nearly constant wind and quite a few days of sunshine
so no shortage of power at Dolly's! Dolly was a Gypsy who, because she
was banned from entering the village, used to hassle passers-by at the
crossroads to buy her wares as she had no other means of survival, hence
the name Dolly's Cross.
Apart from educating people with
computers we also did the following; sessions on Renewable Energy power
sources, power provision for a couple to do some image editing on their
Mac PC and taking digital photos of a Scimitar for sale by internet
auction in the hope that the owners can get a good price for it.
Meeting Phase 2 aims, we assessed
a family who wanted to provide computer classroom activities for their
community and helped to put in a funding proposal to the Millennium
Award (You and your community).Because the wind turbines were so obviously
the perfect power source for this part of the Country, we spent quite
a lot of time explaining the related issues. We were quite inundated
with visitors towards the end of our stay. These included Art Space
for Travellers (a partnership project) and Kurt Jackson (an Artist who
donated £600 to the classroom project). We attended a Children's
Society Fire Safety discussion at the local village which is putting
in a bid for funding First Aid courses and Safety training for Cornish
Travellers and Gypsies.
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|Slough Green Caravan Park, Somerset. 4th February - 7th February.
This site was squatted for may
years before gaining official permission from the land owner and Planning
Department. Permission was granted for eight plots. The residents have
been paying rent for approximately three years. Whilst we were there
the owner decided to increase the rent by 100%! Housing benefit presently
covers £17.50 per plot weekly. So, some difficulties will be faced
by plot holders, nearly all families.
Activities using the computer
equipment were all done after school (3.30-6.00pm). Seven children attended
over the three day period. Two children made a picture story board,
using the digi-camera, Paint Shop Pro and photo imaging software and
various props. They were well pleased with the amusing results.
Generally, the people on this
site were very enthusiastic about the project and most of the children,
all of whom had computers at home, were keen to experiment with the
available software. During school hours we developed some Renewable
Energy worksheets and practiced using the Local Area Network.This is
useful for linking laptops between the vehicles and sharing hardware.
We were pleased to receive a visit from Gwen, the local Traveller Liaison
Officer. Our visit also coincided with that of the Children's Society
On the 22nd of February, the
official book launch of the "Tess The Traveller" book set is to take
place at this site.
|Back to the
Cornwall. 1st February - 3rd February.
Conflicting opinions led us to
believe that there were Travellers from the recently evicted site, parked
in the community car park. However, none of these people were families
with children. Quick to take up the opportunity of our classrooms were
the local home education group, their friends and some children who
were only recently settled.
We visited a near by site but
were unable to gain access as the gateway was too narrow and muddy.
The land owner, who lived in an impressively converted TK was very hospitable
and expressed enthusiasm for hosting Travellers' School Children's Camps.This
was a milestone in the future for the TSC as land for camps has been
unavailable for quite some time. In order that vehicle access can be
achieved, several tonnes of hardcore will have to be laid and the gate
way widened. Andy, the owner, was so keen to develop annual gatherings
for children so the TSC is going to pursue funding sources to enable
the once popular Children's Camps to resume.
Meanwhile the classroom in the
car park was full to bursting with some of the more advanced students
we have seen so far. The Times Education software was extremely popular
with this group, they seemed particularly keen to practice with the
science, maths and english CDs. Also, one of the boys aged 15 was the
first student to successfully use the digital camera and Microsoft Publisher
(staff's own) to produce a poster, see right.
Some people living at Calstock,
who lived on their forty eight converted fishing boat on the Tamar river
for fifteen years showed us their South facing fields which are available
for land based educational purposes. More information can be found at
|Back to the
There were 5 very keen young
children who enjoyed using the computers and one teenager who would
really benefit from having a computer on site. One adult expressed
a real interest in making web pages and has booked himself on to
a computer course at the local town.
It would be of considerable help
if the TSC can raise the funds to install a landline into the static
caravan/playgroup so that internet access can be provided in the evening.
|Back to the
|Hangar 42, Aston Down Airfield; 19th-22nd of January
This site was taken in November
2002 and was due for eviction the week after we left. Approximately
twenty families lived there, a water tap was working and there was plenty
of fire wood available nearby. The Traveller Education Service provided
a taxi to take the children to school every morning. There were five
children living there, four of whom were attending school. Three of
them remembered using the computers last year at Coaley Peak and were
very keen to try the new laptops and practice their skills.
Happily, on this site three people
were interested in the renewable energy training and support that we
were offering as part of the Phase 2 and Phase 3 project development
strategy. We surveyed the roof of their Showman's Caravan and lorry
and made a general plan for funding their proposals. These are to provide
at least one day's educational facility per week on their own site,
supporting their local community and expanding the educational opportunities
for the resident children. They were planning to buy a computer in the
very near future and were glad of some advice on the subject. We also
looked at a bus on site that a young couple wanted to convert into a
The children were enjoying the
sessions that we provided; we did two and a half days teaching, taking
turns to cook, teach, draw wiring diagrams etc.. The software most enjoyed
by the younger children were: 'Learning Land', 'Reader Rabbit' and 'Key
Stage 1 I.T. Skills'. 'The Official Driving Theory Test' was popular
with the over-twelves.
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|Dylwyn Hall, nr. Leominster, Herefordshire; 17th of January
This was a new way of working
for the travellers school. Through an education liaison worker we managed
to hire a village hall. Our renewable energy supply was cabled into
the hall and provided power for the evening session of three hours.
There were approximately nine children present from various small sites
from around the town; two of the boys had recently moved into a house
near by. Although we used the mains lighting for this session, the children
were well aware of the power sources providing the power for the computers.
Teaching ratios were excellent
as some of the parents were keen to sit down and work with their children.
A new development from this arrangement means we have three groups of
ten Traditional Travellers who are very keen to use the computer classroom.
The hall would seem to be the most suitable venue for providing this
service. As yet, we don't know whether it will be possible for us to
return to Herefordshire before Phase 2 funding runs out. If more
money comes to us in time we will certainly go back to work with the
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