Mid Ulster travellers left at bottom of the class

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The statistics are overwhelmingly stark: only five traveller children left school in Northern Ireland last year with five or more GCSEs.

The figures, released by the Department of Education at the Northern Ireland Assembly, are even more alarming in the preceding four years, when less than five travellers annually made the educational benchmark of five GCSEs.

The Mid Ulster and South Tyrone areas have the largest traveller populations living outside of Belfast and Newry.

A permanent halting site was created by the former Dungannon District Council in Coalisland to cater for the housing needs of local travellers, who at the time had been residing in illegal encampments on Dungannon’s Ann and Linfield Streets, and in Coalisland.

However, in spite of decades of suppport and reform in which local authorities have tried to address the problems affecting the traveller community, glaring inequalities appear to persist.

The figures are supported by an Equality Commision report on the North’s education, which found that traveller children had the most negative education experiences and the lowest attainment levels.