Committed to the education of Gypsy, Roma and Travellers of Irish Heritage, Fairground, Circus, New and Bargee children and young people


Showmen’s Families: A Guidance for Schools

By the Education Partnership Group

This leaflet is designed to support your school when admitting children whose families are working with a circus that is visiting your area and may have children who will be attending your school temporarily. Whether you are used to working with visiting circus children, or whether this is a new experience for you, we hope that you will find the guidance offered useful.


The family may approach your school independently or you may be asked by your Authority’s Traveller Education Service to offer a circus child a place in your school. In either case it is worth your while to ask your Traveller Education Service for support and guidance.


Pupils will need to be put on register for the period of their visit. Parents sometimes have a completed form with all their details which can be used. Otherwise use the standard county form.

Background Information


Circus employees do not regard themselves as “Travellers” and indeed do not historically share the same cultural background. Nevertheless, they are recognised as Occupational Travellers, i.e. travel for work and share the same advantages and disadvantages of those who travel and live in a very small space where water and other facilities may not be readily available.

Because the circus is constantly on the move, circus children will attend a great many schools – possibly five schools in one month! We hope this Guidance will help to make the transitions from one school to another a more positive experience and enable them to get the most out of the education they will receive from you.

There are usually evening performances, so a circus can be noisy at night. This will affect the sleeping pattern of the children, who may not get to sleep until comparatively quite late. Older children may be performers themselves.

Red Books

red-bookSome children will have a ‘Red Book’ which is a record of their education to date. Please try to complete your page as accurately and honestly as possible as these books ensure, as far as possible, the continuity of the children’s education and help to avoid under-achievement. These books were funded by the DCSF.

You can download this book from this site (it’s not red!).

Exercise Books

Some pupils will have exercise books with them which can be used for their school work. This can give teachers some idea of the level at which they are working.

Language Issues

Circuses are often international and for some pupils, English may not be their first language – they may even be used to a different alphabet. These children could be academically quite advanced in their own countries and are usually very keen to learn English. Giving them a picture dictionary or similar will help them learn English vocabulary.

Practical Guidance

  • Choose a child in the receiving class to be a ‘buddy’ and make sure that child knows what the duties of a ‘buddy’ entails.
  • Show pupil/parents around your school/classroom.
  • Give guidance on toilet locations and arrangements.
  • Any important class/school rules should be explained. Schools tend to vary in what they think is important – for instance, the use of rubbers. It is kind to deal with infringements tactfully and quietly.
  • Make sure the times of the day are known.
  • Arrange a drop off/pickup point with the family.
  • Explain lunchtime arrangements, i.e. where to store a packed lunch or how to pay for school dinners.
  • Tell the family when swimming/PE/ cookery etc. take place so that appropriate equipment can be brought in.
  • Integrate the child as much as possible – for instance, cloakroom space, seating arrangements and working groups.
  • If at all possible, try to include the child in school trips and events like Sports Day or Class Assemblies etc.
  • Please advise parents on school uniform as many circus families keep a variety of school tops in different colours.
  • Most children like to blend in and not be singled out.
  • Do NOT undertake a circus project.


Pupils may need to take their SATs whilst a member at your school. This is quite usual. Work with your local TES to organise this.

Traveller Education/Achievement Service

Please contact your local TES for further advice and guidance. Use the contact section of this website.

Produced by the Education Partnership Group
National Association of Teachers and Other Professionals (NATT+)

This leaflet is also useful, designed as a guide for teachers new to distance learning. Advice for teachers new to Distance Learning