Richard O'Neill with his School for Nomads book

Book Release: Richard O’Neill’s School for Nomads dreams of education made for Gypsies and Travellers

Richard O’Neill’s new children’s book was published in June. Renowned Romany Gypsy author O’Neill worked with Gypsy and Traveller young people to create a School for Nomads.

The book, commissioned by Moving for Change, dreams of schools that not only celebrate Gypsy and Traveller cultures and histories, but use traditional nomadic teaching methods for the benefit of all.

The story follows two driven high school students, a Romany Gypsy girl and an Irish Traveller girl, eager to teach their teachers about the benefits of nomadic learning. Little did they know their teachings would not only be useful, but become essential in the backdrop of a global pandemic.

One young person O’Neill worked with said:

“If school could really be like this, I’d be there now.”

Whilst literacy levels amongst Gypsy and Traveller people are lower than the national average, so too is the understanding of Gypsy and Traveller histories and cultures. With a lack of positive representation in books, O’Neill has created School for Nomads to address this need. He hopes it will become an advocacy tool in schools and communities across the UK to encourage understanding, literacy and educational inclusion.

O’Neill said:

“I wrote parts of this book with tears in my eyes. Some with sadness for those who had such negative experiences of school. Others with joy for those thriving in education because of individual teachers who make that happen.

“I hope School for Nomads creates understanding about the challenges Gypsy and Traveller students face in a system that works against them.”

Violet Cannon, Moving for Change Chair said:

“I acutely remember that as a child, I saw few if any Romany Gypsy or Traveller characters in the books I read. The few I did see were shown to me by uncomfortable, well-meaning teachers who would proudly present me with a copy of some “Gypsy book”, with characters I simply could not identify with on any real level.

“This experience meant it was a joy and privilege to read Richards’s book, knowing it would represent young Romany Gypsy girls like myself and my daughter. The book is a much-needed addition to the literary world.”

Moving for Change has commissioned the printing of 4,000 copies to be shared with Gypsy and Traveller sites, schools, libraries and, in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, their Literacy Hubs for free.

Find out more about this project and others by heading to our Projects Page.

You can get a free copy too. To request one, simply fill out this form here.


Moving for Change brings together the key players working to improve the quality of life for nomadic Gypsies and Travellers and the communities in which they live across the UK.

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