The ACERT mini-conference “The legacy of Plowden” was a lively and stimulating day, and the voices of the communities as strong and eloquent as ever. Rose McCarthy welcomed more than 60 participants summarising the work of ACERT over the year.
Arthur Ivatts, who was the first Field Officer for ACERT, before going on to be an HMI and influential education consultant, explained how Lady Plowden, for many years the ACERT president, had used her knowledge and status to give local authorities the funds needed to develop the national network of Traveller Education Support Services. He spoke of the Swann report which recognised Gypsies, Roma and Travellers as ethnic groups within the education system, and prejudice and hostility to them as racism. The early 21st century saw real progress with ethnic monitoring, the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History month and the National Strategies Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Achievement Programme. From 2008, with the financial crash, local government cuts and the end of ring-fenced funding, the TESS network has withered and, in some areas, died. But the legacy lives on through the experiences of young people who passed through the education system in those years.
More to come….