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


Keynote Speakers at the 2017 Conference

Storytelling and Oral Traditions

Jess Smith

Author and storyteller Jess Smith will be sharing thoughts and opinions on storytelling, the oral traditions and why Travellers choose to chastise their children with stories.

Telling the tale of Traveller history is crucial to families and walking in ancestors footsteps can be so rewarding. So much has changed in recent years and Jess wants to compare what it was like when she was young to today.

Find out more about Jess Smith here.

How to work effectively with Irish Traveller Children and Families

Peter McQuillen Strong

Headteacher, Holy Family Catholic Primary School Leeds

I have been headteacher at Holy Family for 8 years. The school is in one of the most deprived areas on the country, but the vast majority of children attain levels above the national average. Holy Family Catholic Primary School has a significant number of pupils who are members of the Irish Travellers Community. I have worked in education since 1990 when I trained as a PE teacher at the University of Leeds. I am passionate about engaging children in learning and inspiring them so they are enthused to be in school, are motivated in class and have a drive to achieve. I believe parents have a huge role in achieving these aims and developing partnerships with parents is always an integral part of a schools role. I believe in using things that the children enjoy to create an environment that is stimulating and activities that will inspire, motivate and reward.

Building capacity in schools and cities in the UK to improve outcomes for Roma pupils

Graham Smith

Managing Director of The EAL Academy

As Managing Director of The EAL Academy, Graham Smith has led its work in Peterborough,a city with a substantial and growing number of East European Roma pupils in its schools. Peterborough’s EAL Strategy includes a specific Roma focus and has included the appointment of and support for Roma staff in city schools, the development of a role model project, training and consultancy.

Understanding the wider European context of Roma equality and inclusive education

Mark Penfold

Lead Teacher for Ethnic Minority Achievement in Babington College, Leicester

The school has very positive outcomes for all EAL pupils and has a particular reputation for working successfully with eastern European Roma pupils. Mark is a co-founder of the UK registered Charity The Roma Education Support Trust. REST seeks to promote positive education outcomes for Roma across Europe. In this capacity he travels widely in Europe working in partnership with several schools to promote inclusive education. He has spoken on this topic at both European Parliament venues and was part of a group which met at the headquarters of the Council of Europe recently to discuss the programme for future Roma integration across Europe. Mark also authored a report published by the British Council on best practice in working with pupils of Roma heritage from Eastern Europe.

Using drama to tackle issues of discrimination, prejudice and stereotypes in the classroom

Friends Families Travellers

We are a charity who seek to end racism and discrimination against Gypsies, Travellers and Roma, whatever their ethnicity, culture or background, whether settled or mobile, and to protect the right to pursue a nomadic way of life. We work on campaigning, case work, and capacity building to help Gypsy and Traveller groups help themselves and mainstream organisations to work better with Gypsies and Travellers.

FFT has been working on behalf of Gypsies and Travellers since 1994 and our organisation has broad support within the Travelling communities.

Lisa Smith 

A Romani Traveller from Worcestershire, Lisa has been the student the worker and the researcher in the field of Traveller Education and has a Masters in Inclusive Education.

She is currently enrolled in the global leader for young children programme at the World Forum Foundation.

Working as a freelance Gypsy, Roma  Traveller education consultant Lisa delivers sessions in universities, national charities and local authorities. She is also the Vice- Chair for the Advisory Council for the Education of Romanies and other Travellers.


Brian Foster

Brian Foster is an Education Consultant specialising in Inclusion, Monitoring and Evaluation, and currently provides technical advice to projects in Czech Republic, Ukraine and the UK, funded by Open Society Foundations. He has been involved in Traveller Education in London since the mid-1970s, and continues to assist services in Hackney and Tower Hamlets. He is also a Governor of a north London Primary School.

He is an Executive member of the Advisory Council for the Education of Romanies and other Travellers (ACERT), the Treasurer of the Travellers Movement and a director of a not-for-profit Community Enterprise Company, Nomadic-education.

He participated in a major piece of research (2007-10) “Improving Outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Pupils” and, with Anne Walker, wrote “Mainstreaming Traveller Education: the Litmus test” (2010) as well as several other other articles and chapters. With Lisa Smith, he is working on an article reviewing the impact of Government policies on Gypsies, Roma and Travellers in the UK.

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