Teachers across country are bringing school on site to the children of circus families.

Education for children travelling with circus shows is being funded under a new European Union scheme called the Gold Card Project. Under the project a network visiting teachers are available across the country. 

Limerick City's Education Centre got the ball rolling on a pilot project. 

For the kids of circus and fairground families keeping up with their education and schooling can be a problem.

Circus children must learn the skills of the circus but still have to go to school. School is now coming to them on site with the help of a visiting teacher. Teacher Brian Dillon explains how the system works. A record is kept of materials covered so that when the circus moves on to the next town, the teacher there will be familiar with what the circus kids have been learning. Brian Dillon feels that while the system works well it is not ideal as the circus pupils are still missing out on tuition. Ideally what they need is a teacher to travel with them, a system available in some European countries.

I'm trying to squash a twenty hour week into a four hour week.

Cathy Halloran visits Fossett's Circus and speaks to circus children Sarah and Edward Fossett, and Miela Decker about their experiences of life on the road and the new approach to schooling. 

Edward Fossett describes how the education system has changed since his day and how the children nowadays are getting the best of both worlds. Marian Fossett says that the new system allows the children to receive both a circus and a conventional education. 

It gives them a fuller life of everything that they need to learn to prepare themselves for life in a circus and that's what it's all about. All these children will be in a circus.

William Bird of the Irish Showman's Guild believes that getting education has made things a bit easier for circus families. 

David O'Grady coordinator of the Gold Card Project outlines that the new system has given circus families the opportunity to stay together.


This episode of 'Nationwide' was broadcast on 11 December 1998. The reporter is Cathy Halloran.
The presenter is Michael Ryan.