Saturday, 17 September 2011

Dale Farm: Travellers Fear Eviction Will Prevent Children From Finding Local School | UK News | Sky News

Dale Farm: Fears Over Kids' Education

5:53am UK, Saturday September 17, 2011

Jason Farrell, news correspondent

The eviction at Dale Farm could force dozens of children out of education, their parents believe.

Dale Farm

The travellers lost their legal fight last month

Families living on the illegal pitch near Basildon fear they will not be able to find accommodation near to the local school.

They also say they will not be able to pitch anywhere else long enough for their children to be accepted at other schools.

There are 110 children on the register at the local Crays Hill Primary school.

Of those, 107 are traveller children and it is believed that more than 20% of them presently live on the unauthorised pitches and will be directly affected by the site clearance.

A screengrab shows travellers at Dale Farm with a UN flag flying ahead of a forced eviction

The travellers were supported by a UN-funded group

The school admits there is already an issue with low attendance levels, however a spokesperson for Cray's Hill told Sky News: "Engagement with the traveller community has been growing year on year and the parents endeavour to get their children into school, letting the school know when this isn't possible due to travelling.

"The school will always keep places open for pupils when they are travelling rather than taking them off the roll.

"Parents who are affected by the site clearance have said that they would like to continue sending their children to Crays Hill Primary. However, their decision to ensure their child continues to attend the school will depend on where they relocate."

Basildon Council Leader Tony Ball says: "Parents have been offered bricks and mortar accommodation near the school. 

Vanessa Redgrave

Actress Vanessa Redgrave visited the camp to show her support

"They have family living on the legal pitches at Dale Farm and have been told of other legal sites around the country. It is the parents' responsibility to look after their children."

Many of the mothers on the illegal site are illiterate and say they fear their children will grow up the same way if they are forced back on the road.

Sky News spoke to seven-year-old Nikita Gemmell. She lives on the Dale Farm and says: "I'm going to miss school and my yard and my friends." 

She says she can remember being evicted from Borehamwood in Hertfordshire as a toddler. 

"They came at night and switched off the gas, then they came back in the morning and started smashing up our homes."

Her parents say they do not want her to live through the same experience again and they intend to leave this weekend ahead of Monday's eviction. 

They say they do not know where they will go.

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