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ROMtels research is a series of projects with the aim of improving educational experience for Roma pupils across Europe. It began in 2014 with an award from Erasmus+ (€261,317) with Heather Smith leading a European team.

Roma face persistent social and education exclusion across Europe. Roma pupils consistently underachieve in terms of education outcomes in comparison to other groups.

ROMtels employs an inclusive pedagogy called translanguaging. It enables pupils to draw on all their languages in the pursuit of learning. It began in Newcastle with the development of a multilingual enquiry space.

The research is founded on what the project termed a ‘Languages for Dignity’ approach. It overturns perceptions of deficit acknowledging Roma communities’ and pupils’ expert employment of multiple forms of Romani. In turn, this leads to demonstrable and significant increases in the pupils’ achievement and attendance at school. Plus, it vastly improved school-parent relations.

Advice emanating from the research was captured in 3 guidance handbooks (plus translated versions) to support:

  • teachers
  • teacher educators
  • policymakers

The handbooks are used alongside a series of videos of children jointly translanguaging-to-learn.

The research has also developed a cutting-edge conceptual model of translanguaging as a learning process and wider understandings of Romani language use and the need for careful use of translanguaging for those communities living in the most vulnerable circumstances.

We are delighted that ROMtels was shortlisted for Research Project Of The Year (Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences) at the 2020 Times Higher Education Awards.