E-LEARNING AND MOBILITY PROJECT ‘Using ICT to enhance learning for mobile Traveller children’
THE E-LAMP PROJECTS: 2003-2010
(Updated March, 2010)
Ken Marks email@example.com
These projects have been focused on the use of ICT to provide enhanced independent and distance learning support for Traveller children and their primary focus has been the challenge of interrupted learning. Ever since the advent of compulsory schooling the education of children from the Fairground, Gypsy, Irish and Scottish Traveller communities, and other smaller Traveller communities, has presented a dilemma. The more mobile families normally over-winter in one place (their base) but many of them then travel over substantial distances for economic reasons, especially during the period April to October. This often means significant interruptions in schooling. Since the 1980s one response within the UK has been to provide the children with distance learning packs and this practice has become widespread for Circus and Fairground families. The packs were normally put together by winter-base schools working with their local Traveller Education Support Services (TESS). Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, traditional packs proved to have significant limitations in terms of motivating the children. Work had to be posted back to school and feedback was delayed. It was also difficult to get hold of teachers if there were problems with the work set. Progress was limited for all but the most committed families.
This then was the original context of the E-LAMP developments; attempts to explore and use laptops with internet access as a means of bridging the communication gap between mobile Traveller pupils and their schools across English LAs, and to enhance both motivation and learning through the use of interactive materials. The initial objective was to improve learning experiences for children who were already using traditional packs, but the longer-term goal was to work towards involving the very much larger numbers of children who, in effect, lose all contact with their base schools during the travel season.
Since 2006 an additional strand of work has been explored, again across English LAs. This has a rather different focus, namely Traveller pupils who have become disengaged from schooling. Such disengagement has been a major challenge over the years, especially for families from the Gypsy, Irish and Scottish Traveller communities who have remained cautious about the impact of schools and schooling on their children. Considerable progress has been made in the primary sector, often related to bridging and supportive work by local TESS staff. However, disengagement remains a major issue in the secondary sector, especially as youngsters approach Key Stage 4. Reasons include the fear of bullying, sometimes racist, and of negative influences which challenge traditional 1 There are also concerns that the secondary school community values.
curriculum is not relevant to community needs, and to lifestyles which include a strong informal apprenticeship model within extended families.
The new (i.e. from 2006) pilot strand has therefore had a re-engagement rationale. It continues the E-LAMP emphasis on loaning laptops and providing internet access to facilitate learning. However it has a tutorial structure provided by local TESS staff and the objective is to re-engage these young Travellers with learning in order to build bridges into college courses and other vocational provision. The new initiative used the Wider Key Skills qualification framework but accepted the need to build on the real interests of youngsters and families, especially vocational interests. Given the logistics of mobility, and the geographical distribution of communities, the pilot approach was also designed around a specially tailored virtual learning environment.
A brief historical overview of the projects
The original E-LAMP project was funded by the Nuffield Foundation for 13 months from April, 2003. The initiative was coordinated by the National Association of Teachers of Travellers (NATT) and the steering committee had representation from both the Circus and Fairground communities. This project was, in effect, an exploratory research exercise, with fieldwork undertaken by the Department of Educational Studies at the University of Sheffield. The project adopted a dynamic approach, collating information about experiences and possibilities, encouraging the development of a community of practice and making the case for resources for pilot trials.
This led to the establishment of a follow up project, called E-LAMP and mainly 2
funded by the (then) DfES. This initiative set out to provide 20 primary age Fairground children with laptops and with datacard devices which could link them to the internet via mobile telephone networks. It took place during the 2004
1 See in particular the study written by Derrington and Kendall (2004) ‘Gypsy Traveller Students in Secondary Schools: culture, identity and achievement’, available from Trentham Books
travelling season and enabled both email contact with winter-base schools and
was then followed by a access to web-based learning resources. E-LAMP2
larger project, E-LAMP, which included secondary age Fairground pupils and 3
some children from other Traveller communities. Approximately 50 children and
families were involved and project funding was again provided by the DfES, with
the Nuffield Foundation covering the cost of an independent evaluation.
On the basis of the outcomes of these initiatives, the DfES funded a further
phase for 2006-07, with two strands each under the heading ‘E-LAMP’. The 4
first of these is referred to as ‘Strand A’ within the project as a whole. It was
effectively a consolidation initiative which spread the original pilot approach to
other parts of the country and ensured that an additional 140 mobile pupils
benefited from laptops and internet access so that they could link back to their
The second, referred to as ‘Strand B’, was aimed initially at 20 KS4 Gypsy and
Irish Traveller youngsters who had been excluded, or had become disengaged
from school for other reasons. As indicated above, these young Travellers were
also provided with laptops and internet access, again with wireless connection.
In this context they were also given access to a specially designed web-based
learning environment. As also indicated, they were supported by TESS staff,
who acted as tutors, and the aim was to build bridges back into relevant
The DfES (now becoming the DCSF) confirmed continued funding to consolidate
both strands for 2007-08, 2008-09 and finally for 2009-10, so that the twin
projects are now in the E-LAMP phase. At the time of writing (March, 2010), it is 7estimated that 1200 children, including the school-age siblings of young
Travellers directly involved with the project, will be using the equipment and
facilities provided via the projects. Some 500 of these are mobile, another 100
are involved with Strand B of the project and the rest were non-mobile Traveller
pupils who had also been invited to join the project in the run up to the
Government’s ‘Home Access’ programme (see below)
The next section gives a brief outline of experience from the two strands of E-
LAMP, as well as discussing the next steps as DCSF funding comes to an end in
July, 2010. The final section contains a list of TESS which have been involved
. Evaluation Outcomes
Progress with Strand A
The project proved very successful in showing the potential of ICT to help bridge
the gap between schools and mobile families. Over 500 children (including
school-age siblings of the learners formally registered on the programme) were
benefiting in 2009-10. Their schools were normally exchanging messages and
work with their pupils during the travelling season, but many were also providing
courseware and links to selected on-line learning materials. In addition, many
schools were beginning to use VLEs to support the process.
2 and also Annual evaluation reports can be found on the NATT+ website
describe a progress tracking exercise for learners who joined the project in 2006
as well as case-studies based on the experiences of longer-term participants.
The evidence from the tracking exercise suggested that some 90% of the 140
pupils who joined the project that year made ‘satisfactory’ or ‘good’ progress
during their first year as distance learners, with the new ICT-mediated support
judged by staff to be a significant factor. The case-studies also confirmed the
cumulative affect of project involvement, with the young participants showing
encouraging signs of independence in their learning skills and becoming more
pro-active over time.
However, as with any initiative, success comes with a health warning and there
have also been failures. Much has depended on the commitment of schools and
families, and also on a number of key factors which included:
? Having a clear structure to coordinate distance learning in school.
? Setting realistic targets for what can be achieved though both pack-based
and ICT-enhanced materials
? Having a named member of staff responsible for contact with the families,
and for ensuring a flow of work and feedback between home and school
(especially important in secondary schools)
? Good preparation for parents and pupils
? The supportive involvement of local TESS staff
These factors, and a number of other issues, are discussed in a guidance 3document produced by the project and published by the DfES in 2006
The project went on to explore the overlap with the Government’s Home Access
programme which is intended to encourage the home use of ICT for all pupils.
This is a rolling programme which started in January 2010, and will initially run
until March 2011. In particular, from September 2008, ELAMP began to recruit
2 www.natt.org.uk 3 The DfES document is entitled ‘School Supported Distance Learning’ It is also
a number of non-mobile Traveller pupils who were encouraged to use the
equipment which they had been loaned as part of their schoolwork. This new
development provided additional experience of how best to encourage and
support Traveller families within the Home Access programme itself. The
programme is now well under way and includes a grant scheme aimed at low
income families. Early feedback suggests that the take up from both mobile
and non-mobile families has been encouraging. The project also took the
opportunity to publish an updated guidance document (January, 2010) which was
sent out to TESS for use with schools and LAs, to remind them of the importance 4 of providing distance learning support as part of Home Access developments.
Progress with Strand B: ‘The Wider Skills Bridging Project’ This part of the project is in its fourth year and has been using a commercially
available learning platform developed by the Nisai Group as the centre of its work
with disaffected and disengaged KS4 Traveller students. Electronic learning
materials were developed for the site by an educational charity called ‘Chrysalis Club 2000’ (CC2000) which targeted its efforts on educationally disadvantaged 5young people, and which is now part of Ormiston Education.
The young participants are drawn from the Gypsy and Irish Traveller
communities and work within the ‘Wider Key Skills’ framework. This covers ‘Improving (your) own learning and performance’, ‘Problem solving’ and ‘Working with others’. The qualifications have GCSE equivalence and are available at
Level 1 (grades D-G), and Level 2 (Grades A*-C). Only Level 1 was offered for
the first pilot year, but some youngsters have subsequently been successful at
Level 2. Moderation is organized through the Ormiston Education Trust and
student work is then accredited within the ASDAN qualification structure.
To obtain their qualifications the youngsters, called ‘members’ within the project,
have to complete a number of challenges which centre on vocational or personal
interests. Examples of challenges include ‘Looking after an animal’, ‘Pricing a
job’, ‘Setting up a mini-business’, ‘Becoming an ICT expert’, ‘Hair and Beauty
Makeover’ and ‘Planning a Party’. Completing a challenge involves planning, carrying through and reviewing a number of practical activities. Progress has
normally been recorded on the Nisai learning environment through a series of
assignment sheets, and the young members also have to upload evidence for
their portfolios in the form of witness statements, photographs, Powerpoint
presentations, documents, etc.
During 2008-09 the project also introduced an off-line option as many of the
young learners were experiencing problems with connecting to the internet at
4 This is a NATT+ publication entitled Home Access on the Move: Providing for mobile families It can be downloaded from www.natt.org.uk 5 A larger charitable trust.
home. All worksheets and materials were made available on a CD ROM so that the flow of work was not interrupted.
Each member meets their tutor for half a day each week (normally in a group setting) and is then expected to spend at least half a day each week in independent work towards their targets. Tutors are called ‘advisors’ within the
project, and a tutor is always a known member of staff from their local TESS.
Roughly three quarters of the learners who committed themselves to the programme over a period of time have obtained at least one qualification. These are encouraging results given the background of missed schooling and literacy skill levels of the young Travellers. [A reading age of eight years is required for participation in the project and many of the learners require some literacy support].
Evaluation has mainly been based on feedback from the tutors, with a limited number of case-studies. The evidence suggests that the project has proved successful in re-engaging youngsters in terms of drawing them back into structured learning. Tutors also report increased self-confidence and self-esteem, improvements in literacy and ICT skills and a much more positive climate within which to explore vocational links with local colleges. Altogether there are now approximately 100 young ‘members’ in different parts of the country, and one
interesting development is that the project has also attracted several Traveller youngsters who are on the fringes of schooling (in danger of exclusion or with poor attendance patterns). Some 25% of the young learners now fall in to this category and their schools have generally been pleased with the progress they have made through the project. For further details and analysis please, again, 6 refer to the annual reports on the NATT+ website.
In terms of success indicators and issues, commitment from the learners and their families is an essential pre-requisite, and the other major factor has been tutor time. It is recommended that a member of staff needs a day per week to adequately support five learners; half-a-day for class contact and the rest for preparation, assessment, etc.
With DCSF funding finishing in July 2010, the Ormiston Education Trust will take over this provision from September, and at the time of writing discussions are underway with existing partners, as well as a marketing exercise to attract new partners. The Trust will introduce a new VLE and will also maintain the off-line option.
Partner TESS for Strand A (Keeping mobile pupils in contact
with their base schools and ICT support for Traveller pupils at
Partners joining between 2004 and 2006
Partners Involvement in the phases 7ACTES Original E-LAMP partner (from 2004) 2
Bolton Original E-LAMP partner (from 2004) 2
Cambridgeshire Original E-LAMP partner (from 2004) 2
Surrey (see below) Original E-LAMP partner (from 2004) 2
Derby & Derbyshire Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2005) 3 8DCTES Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2005) 3 Hertfordshire Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2005) 3 Northants Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2005) 3 Northumberland Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2005) 3
Doncaster (see below) Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2006) 4Gloucestershire Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2006) 4Leeds Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2006) 49Leicestershire Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2006) 4Luton (see below) Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2006) 4Manchester Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2006) 4Norfolk Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2006) 4Oxfordshire Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2006) 4St Helens Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2006) 4Sunderland Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2006) 4WMCESTC (see below) Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2006) 4Wiltshire Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2006) 4
Doncaster, Luton, Surrey and The West Midlands Consortium (WMCWSTC) subsequently
7 The Avon Consortium Traveller Education Service covers four LAs. 8 The Devon Consortium Traveller Education Service covers three LAs 9 Leicestershire had developed their own project which ran in parallel with E-LAMP and also made a
valuable contribution to developmental efforts. The TESS then linked with E-LAMP more formally for
the fourth phase
Partner TESS for Strand A (Keeping mobile pupils in contact
with their base schools and ICT support for Traveller pupils at
Partners joining in 2007 and 2008
Partners Involvement in the phases Buckinghamshire New partner for E-LAMP(from 2007) 5 Cheshire East New partner for E-LAMP(from 2007) 5 Cheshire West New partner for E-LAMP(from 2007) 5 Cheshire Halton New partner for E-LAMP(from 2007) 5 Cornwall New partner for E-LAMP(from 2007) 5 Kent New partner for E-LAMP(from 2007) 5 Oldham New partner for E-LAMP(from 2007) 5 Tameside New partner for E-LAMP(from 2007) 5 West Sussex New partner for E-LAMP(from 2007) 5
Bedford New partner for E-LAMP(from 2008) 6 Central Bedfordshire New partner for E-LAMP(from 2008) 5 Blackpool New partner for E-LAMP(from 2008) 6 Bradford New partner for E-LAMP(from 2008) 6 Bury New partner for E-LAMP(from 2008) 6 Dorset New partner for E-LAMP(from 2008) 6 Greenwich New partner for E-LAMP(from 2008) 6 Hampshire New partner for E-LAMP(from 2008) 6 Nottinghamshire New partner for E-LAMP(from 2008) 6 Salford New partner for E-LAMP(from 2008) 6 Somerset New partner for E-LAMP(from 2008) 6
Greenwich subsequently withdrew
Cheshire was the original partner and subsequently split into 3 constituent TESS
Bedfordshire was the original partner and subsequently split into two constituent TESS
Partner TESS for Strand B (Disengaged Traveller learners and
those on the fringes of schooling)
Partners Involvement in the phases Cambridgeshire Original E-LAMP partner (from 2006-07) 4
Gloucestershire Original E-LAMP partner (from 2006-07) 4
Leeds Original E-LAMP partner (from 2006-07) 4
St Helens Original E-LAMP partner (from 2006-07) 4
WMCESTC Original E-LAMP partner (from 2006-07) 4
10ACTES Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2007-08) 5 Ealing Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2007-08) 5 East Yorkshire Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2007-08) 5 Hillingdon Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2007-08) 5 Northants Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2007-08) 5 North Yorkshire Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2007-08) 5 Richmond on Thames Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2007-08) 5 West Sussex Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2007-08) 5 York Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2007-08) 5
Blackpool Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2008-09) 6 Croydon Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2008-09) 6 Derbyshire Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2008-09) 6 11DCTES Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2008-09) 6 Essex Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2008-09) 6 Hampshire Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2008-09) 6 Harrow Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2008-09) 6 Milton Keynes Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2008-09) 6 Norfolk Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2008-09) 6 Somerset Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2008-09) 6 Suffolk Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2008-09) 6 Wiltshire Additional partner for E-LAMP (from 2008-09) 6
Leeds, Ealing, East Yorkshire and Essex subsequently withdrew from the project
The West Midlands Consortium (WMCESTC) has been reorganized d
uring the lifetime of the project and most of the focus is now within the Wolverhampton LA
10 The Avon Consortium covers 4 LAs. 11 The Devon Consortium Traveller Education Service covers three LAs