AT nine o’clock in the morning, a Romanian man is pushing a gypsy caravan carefully through the streets of Govanhill.

Police officers stop traffic allowing the ornate carriage to turn unimpeded from Calder Street into Annette Street, as people stop and stare on their way to work.

Having spotted a team of teachers and museum workers gingerly loading a symbol of his culture’s history off the back of a lorry onto the road, the man urges that great care be taken with the brightly-coloured throwback to his homeland, as it is manoeuvred through the parked cars on the streets on Glasgow’s southside en route to a school playground.

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“We must be very careful,” he says, proud and protective of the historic cultural artefact he encountered by chance on the way back from buying his morning rolls, a fond reminder of a time and place far from his adopted home in Glasgow.

“We must not damage the caravan.”

The 100-year-old wooden carriage is not normally to be found on the derided streets of Govanhill, one of the city’s most impoverished quarters, and home to a large number of immigrant Roma families.

Instead, it is one of 1.4 million items housed at the Glasgow Museum Resource in Nitshill.

The caravan recently became an unusual centrepiece in the playground of Annette Street Primary, the school which found itself at the centre of a media storm last year after media reports claiming it had “no Scottish children” and was at the heart of an “impending disaster” as immigrant communities gravitated a well worn path towards Govanhill’s cheap rents.

More accurately, the 210-pupil school has no white children from what some might consider a “traditional” Scottish background.

Instead, its colourful classrooms are populated with Slovakian and Romanian children from the Roma ethnic communities of Eastern Europe, many of whom were born in Scotland, as well as children from Italy, Pakistan and Poland.

“There is nobody in this school who hasn’t had travel in their lives, whether themselves or their parents or grandparents,” said head teacher Shirley Taylor, explaining why a gypsy caravan stopped traffic on the city’s southside earlier that morning.

“Our all-school topics in the past have included Glasgow, Scotland, the Commonwealth Games and the next step was a topic about the children’s history, the point being to foster a deeper understanding of the difference in backgrounds and cultures.

“Other parents in other parts of the city might have taken their children to see this sort of thing in a museum, but that’s unlikely to happen with a lot of our families, which is why we worked to bring it here.”

As word spread around the streets of one of the country’s most economically deprived areas, parents poured into the Victorian schoolyard to have photos taken with the carefully restored artefact, known as a Vardo Wagon.

Alex and Sandra Rusznyak were among them, led by their confident son Jozef, 8.

The family have lived in Scotland for two years since migrating from eastern Slovakia in search of work.

Speaking via an interpreter, Mr Rusznyak said: “The gypsies were always travellers, and it is good that this display shows the history of how the gypsies used to live and how difficult life was for them, always moving from place to place.

“We think it’s good that the children here have access to something like this, something which doesn’t exists any more, and appreciate the lifestyle of the way they used to live in our culture.”

Since moving to Scotland, Mr Rusznyak has found employment in a car wash, and despite raised tensions, feels Scotland is more tolerant of the Roma community than his home.

“If you are of Roma origin in Slovakia, people do not want to give you a job, “ he said. “Whereas here, they don’t discriminate as much. The opportunities are better. I want to support my family and show an example to my sons. I can have an income here, whereas in Slovakia that’s not possible.”

Scots Pakistani mother of four Nazneen Baig has had an association with the school for 15 years. One of her sons, a former pupil, recently graduated from university with a degree in engineering.

She urged people to see beyond the stereotypes.

She said: “ I say to all the parents I deal with as a childminder that the big groups of Eastern European men standing around the corners is just a cultural thing. They’re socialising. It’s all about perception based on stereotypes.

“People should know – these people are desperate. And in desperation you don’t know how far you would go. That’s why so many of them end up living in flats with rogue landlords in appalling conditions. It’s not their fault. They have no other choice.”

A recent BBC Scotland documentary highlighted the area’s association with the problem of people trafficking, and the tenements in the area have long been a haven for exploitative slum landlords.

But at the centre of these streets, Annette Street Primary’s defiant determination to celebrate ethnic pluralism and migration is splashed over every inch of its Victorian interior.

Wall displays encourage pupils to appreciate the close language similarities between Urdu and Roma. An art gallery in the gym hall displays their painted depictions of movement between countries, while the nomadic testimonies of their parents and teachers - whether from Belgium, or Aberdeen - play out on videos in the “memory zone”.

Most of the children have a working knowledge of two languages including English; some can speak as many as five.

As children and parents pose for pictures with the caravan, a group of boys spontaneously break into a chorus of Romani anthem Djelem Djelem, drumming on benches and clapping as they sing.

But their adopted culture is celebrated as keenly. Classes are named for Scottish mountains and last year a clutch of incubated chicks were named after Jack and Victor from Glasgow TV comedy Still Game and Ricky and Lorraine, the singers in Glasgow band Deacon Blue.

Head teacher Mrs Taylor admitted there are many difficulties working with a high transient population, in a community with a rich history of immigration stretching back over 100 years which saw many Irish, Jewish and Indian families make their homes in the area.

But she said: “The rewards outweigh the challenges. We have teachers who come here to train and want to stay. The children are a delight to teach.

“The area gets a lot of negative publicity, and we’re always looking for ways to build bridges and show people that this is a community like any other, where parents are looking for the best opportunities for their children.

“This work shows we believe in that, we want children to have strong belief in their culture and roots.

“And we want parents to feel that this is their home now, that they can have aspirations and feel valued and understood as a community.”