Information for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families

The travelling community has many different ethnic and cultural groups within it. The term 'Traveller' includes new travellers, Irish travellers, gypsies, fairground and circus travellers.

School attendance advice for children from travelling Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families

If a child has a good school attendance it improves their future life chances. Parents recognise this, but some Travellers may need to take their children out of school to travel for work purposes. The Education Act 1996 Section 444(6) recognises that children may be absent while parents are travelling for their trade or business. This applies to children who meet both the following criteria:

  • Ascribed Gypsies (including Romanies, Romanichals, Welsh Gypsies/Kaale, Scottish Gypsies/Travellers)
  • Irish Travellers, Minceir
  • Roma from Eastern and Central Europe
  • Occupational Travellers (Showmen/Fairground)
  • Circus people
  • Boat Travellers/Bargees
  • New Travellers or New Age Travellers
  • The parent/carer is in a trade or business of such a nature that requires them to travel from place to place. (Education Act 1996 Section 444(6)

Traveller ethnicity and ascription

What is ascription?

By law, schools are required to collect information about pupils' ethnic backgrounds. When your child starts school, you will be asked to ascribe. You can choose which ethnic group your family belongs to.

Ethnicity is a personal awareness of a common cultural identity and relates to how a person feels and not how they are perceived by others. It is not the same as nationality.

Travellers with a Fairground/Showman/Circus heritage (who travel for purposes of their occupation) may not be Gypsy/Roma or Traveller of Irish Heritage and may ascribe as White British. If a pupil is from an Occupational Traveller family, parents can give permission for the school to complete the Traveller Status field by selecting Occupational Traveller.

Which code should I use?

  • WROM: Gypsy/Roma
  • WROG: Gypsy
  • WROR: Roma
  • WROO: Other Gypsy/Roma
  • WIRT: Traveller or Irish Heritage
  • WBRI or WOTH: Fairground/Showman/Show-woman/Circus (write "Showman" on the form)

Benefits of ascription:

  • Schools can use the 'T code' to authorise absences when travelling for work purposes
  • You can dual register your child or children
  • Schools can access additional support from REMA

Authorising absence for travelling for work purposes

When deciding whether to authorise a child's absence from school, a Headteacher considers if:

  • The child has good attendance when not travelling
  • The child has been in school for at least 100 days (200 sessions) in the 12 months before their expected return date (Education Act 1996 Section 444(6)
  • Parents have completed a leave of absence request form before the period of travel for work. It is helpful to show they are travelling for work purposes
  • Parents have given the school a date when they expect the child will return to school. If this changes they will need to let the school know along with the reasons why
  • Do the parents intend to dual register their child whilst away? Is distance learning possible?

Frequently asked questions

Can I take my child out of school to visit relatives, attend weddings, funerals or go on holiday?

The Headteacher can only authorise this in exceptional circumstances.

I don't know when I will be back so I cannot give a return date.

Choose a realistic date and stay in touch with school while you are away and tell them if your plans change. Call the school to tell them of any changes to your travel plans or your child could lose their school place.

What happens if I go away without following this advice?

If you go travelling and have not spoken to the Headteacher, you could lose your school place after 20 days or get a fine.

If you need further advice please speak to your child's school, college or early years setting or email

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