So here comes Laura Clark's Gipsy and traveller children get priority at popular state schools. Just reading the story is enough to raise suspicions - unless you are one of those people who believe everything they read in the Mail...
For example, the story never mentions what this guidance is by name and it doesn't even quote extensively from it. What it says is:
They must take in the pupils even if travellers 'are camped on the roadside and may not be here long', according to Government guidance.
And if you Google that quote, you find Aiming High: Raising the Achievement of Gypsy Traveller Pupils - which was written in 2003. Surely they can't be relying on six-year old advice to manufacture anti-Gypsy sentiment?
It's worth revealing the full context of that quote too. It is in the FAQs section, and it says:
Q. A Gypsy Traveller family has requested places at school for their children even though they are camped on the roadside and may not be here long. Do I have to admit them?
A. Yes. They should be admitted on the same basis as any other children. Local Education Authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that education is available for all children of compulsory school age in their area appropriate to their age, abilities, aptitudes and any special educational needs they might have. This duty applies to children whether they are residing permanently or temporarily in the area and therefore includes Gypsy Traveller children.
'Admitted on the same basis as other children'? Surely that can't be right? Because that would make the Mail story completely...wrong.
It emphasises this in the next answer which says:
There are no special provisions under the Regulations for Gypsy Traveller pupils, who must fall into one of the general categories to become an excepted pupil.
It's also worth noting what the Mail also reveals late in the article:
According to mandatory Government guidance, traveller children must be considered under 'fair access protocols' when they request school places.
These protocols also extend to several other groups, including children of UK service personnel and other Crown Servants, as well as those with special educational needs and young carers.
They also cover youngsters who attended special units for expelled pupils and are now ready to be reintegrated into ordinary schools.
So why is the story not 'Children of troops get priority...'? Or 'Special needs children get priority...'? In fact, if the Mail is admitting they are considered under the same 'protocols' as all those other groups of children, then there clearly is no priority for anyone.
When the document they appear to be quoting says there are 'no special provisions' and Gypsy/Traveller children are 'accepted on the same basis' as others, why is this a story at all?