SCHOOLchildren will be taught about gipsies and travellers in an attempt to stamp out “negative stereotypes”.
An interactive DVD has been developed by Cheshire West and Chester Council (CwaC) and the University of Chester to be used in classrooms across the borough.
Called Michael’s Story, it uses interactive drama to “develop children’s knowledge and understandings of gipsy traveller culture and lifestyles”.
Barbara Pickford, the council’s gipsy, Roma, traveller education adviser, said: “There are a lot of negative messages about travellers and gipsies picked up by young people and Michael’s Story gives them a chance to ask questions and share their thoughts about young people who might have a different way of life.”
Through the DVD, children are introduced to Michael, a popular pupil in their class, before being taken on a visual journey to visit his home.
Michael introduces them to his life on a traveller site, invites them into his trailer for tea and shares his grandad’s passion – the restoration of an old gipsy wagon.
Pupils are given the opportunity to ask questions of Michael, his grandmother and his grandad before returning home to share their experiences, thoughts and views.
More than 40 people attended a special event at the University of Chester’s Riverside Campus where the DVD was launched.
The event also featured musical performances by the Darling family, a gipsy traveller family from North Yorkshire, who had helped with the development of the DVD.
Mrs Pickford, who produced the DVD with Allan Owens and Tony Pickford from the university, said: “Michael’s Story has been delivered to schools both with and without gipsy traveller pupils on their roll and has been extremely well received.
“Traveller children have also been able to share information about their lives and dispel some of the negative stereotypes that exist about their community.
“The CD and DVD resource is now available for all schools nationally to purchase as part of their Key Stage Two learning.”
For more information about the resource contact travellerresources@ cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk