ACERT Submission to the Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry

Margaret Wood and Lisa Smith have compiled an excellent submission to the Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry into tackling inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities.

The submission covers a range of issues with which ACERT members and supporters will be familiar, but brought together in one document they comprise a powerful indictment of this and the previous coalition governments’ indifference and hostility to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller rights and inclusion.

It covers the failure to recognise or build on the achievements of the Labour Government, the inadequacy of the Ministerial Working Group Commitments, the impact of cuts and funding change and the unleashing of xenophobic and nationalist sentiments by the Brexit debate. Women and Children suffer disproportionately from the consequences of austerity and the submission doesn’t pull its punches.  read more

Minister’s defence of commitments fails to convince

Lord Avebury, ACERT president, has received a response from Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister to the letter he wrote on July 2nd expressing concern about Ofsted’s response to two of the commitments of the Ministerial Working Group.

While the minister claims to be “strongly committed to tackling the inequalities experienced by pupils from these communities”, the letter suggests there will be no changes in Ofsted practice; “[w]here an inspection discovers that particular groups of pupils are not making good progress, Ofsted will take this seriously and investigate fully.” The minister assures Lord Avebury that the changes to the inspection framework (which downgraded Gypsies, Roma and Travellers to a footnote) do not represent a weakening of Ofsted’s commitment. Even if this is the case, the Ministerial Working Group Commitments aim to reduce inequality not maintain the status quo. There are many ways in which Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils can fall through this net; isolated learners, children moving between schools, those who do not choose to identify themselves to the Gypsy/Roma and Traveller of Irish Heritage ethnic categories so ACERT expected positive action, focused inspections and better training of the inspectorate. Ofsted is carrying out its legal duties under the Equalities Act and no more, and the Government feels that that is sufficient. read more

Poor start to implemention of Government’s equalities commitments

The ACERT president, Lord Avebury, has written to the Education Minister, Nick Gibb to express our concern about the first two education commitments in the Ministerial Working Group progress report, both of which involved OFSTED. ACERT had a positive meeting with Christine Gilbert (the then Chief Inspector) last year, but it would seem that Sir Michael Wilshaw (the current head of OFSTED) has different priorities.

Commitment 1 reads: “Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils are specifically highlighted as a vulnerable group in the revised Ofsted framework, ensuring that school inspections will pay particular attention to their progress, attainment and attendance”. read more

Government progress report on Gypsies and Travellers published

The Government yesterday published its progress report called “Tackling Inequalities for Gypsy and Traveller Communities”.

This report will be discussed at the next ACERT Executive on 1st May after which our response will be published here. The Executive is open to all ACERT members (although space is limited).