Improving outcomes for Gypsy Roma and Traveller Communities


ACERT has been asked to publicise a small funding stream opened by 3 government departments. ACERT is developing its own bid, but would be happy to cooperate with other organisations and individuals who have ideas they would like to develop.

The Department for Communities and Local Government, in collaboration with the Department for Education and the Department of Health, intends to run a pilot programme of work to improve the outcomes of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

We are looking for six pilot projects in the areas of community cohesion, educational attainment and health outcomes, and welcome bids from organisations with the vision and capability to deliver such interventions. To be eligible to receive the grant, an organisation must be a registered charity or have a charitable purpose. The successful bidder will also need to have a demonstrable record in delivering projects and working with Gypsy, Roma or Traveller communities, and have a credible community presence.

The deadline for application is 18 February 2018. To apply, please complete the attached application form, and return it by the deadline to Please ensure you quote ref. “GRT fund” in your subject heading.

We strongly encourage all applicants to familiarise themselves with the programme specifications and the weighting of the selection criteria before submitting a formal bid.

All bidders will have the opportunity to receive impartial feedback on one draft application from officials in one of the three Departments; if this is of interest, please email by 4 February 2018.

To support bidders with their applications, we are also organising a workshop on 19 January, 2:30-5pm. To reserve a place, please email

We recommend you publish the above message, along with the attached supporting documents, on your organisations’ websites, and maintain it for a period of at least two weeks.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards
Julia Minulescu

Integration and Faith Division
Department for Communities and Local Government

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Searching for the Travelling People

Monday 26th February 5.30pm
Borderlines Film Festival @ The Courtyard, Edgar Street, Hereford, HR4 9JR

Please join us for a screening of ‘Searching for the Travelling People’

In 1964, The Ballad of The Travelling People was first broadcast on BBC Radio. Created by pioneering radio producer Charles Parker with folk musicians Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl, the ground-breaking ballad explored the lives of Gypsies and Travellers through their own words, giving a voice to a historically outcast people. In this short documentary, the renowned author and poet Damian Le Bas takes us on a journey across Britain to re-visit the people and places Charles Parker connected with more than 50 years ago. As the film reveals what has (and, importantly, hasn’t) changed in the five decades since Gypsies and Travellers spoke about their lives, Le Bas sets himself the challenge of creating a new modern ballad for the travelling people of today.

A Q&A session with Damian will follow the screening and please stay after the event for drinks and nibbles to celebrate the launch of the new Travellers’ Times website.

Tickets cost £5.00 each and are available via The Courtyard Box Office 01432 340555 or online

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Plowden conference photos

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What’s the plan, Justine?

The recently published Race Disparity Audit told us nothing we didn’t know already:

Pupils from Gypsy or Roma backgrounds and those from a Traveller or Irish Heritage background had the lowest attainment of all ethnic groups throughout their school years. …. around a quarter of Gypsy and Roma pupils achieved a good level of development, making them around three times less likely to do so than average. At key stage 4 the disparity is wider; in 2015/16 the Attainment 8 score – an average of points scored for attainment in 8 GCSEs including English and Maths – for Gypsy and Roma pupils was 20 points compared with the English average of 50 points and 62 points for Chinese pupils. Gypsy and Roma pupils, and those from an Irish Traveller background, also made less progress compared with the average for pupils with similar prior attainment. They were also far less likely to stay in education after the age of 16 than pupils in any other ethnic group, with just 58% of Irish Traveller pupils and 62% or Gypsy and Roma pupils staying on in 2014/15, compared with 90% of White British pupils and 97% of Chinese pupils.(p.19)

The pupils most likely to be absent were Gypsy or Roma pupils, and those of an Irish Traveller background, with overall absence rates (that is, the percentage of all possible ‘sessions’ that were missed) of 13% and 18% respectively in 2016. (p.22)

Gypsy or Roma pupils, and those of an Irish Traveller background were also most likely to be excluded in 2015/16: 22% and 18% of pupils in these groups respectively were given fixed period exclusions, and 0.33% and 0.49% of each group respectively were permanently excluded.(p.23)

Only around two-thirds of Gypsy or Roma pupils (62%), and those of an Irish Traveller background (58%) stayed in education, employment or training in the 2014/15 academic year.(p.23)

If you think education is bad, other areas are worse! Apart from a single reference to to poor health of over 65 Gypsies, Roma and Travellers, these communities were invisible and ignored throughout the audit. The fact that the report is able to paint such a comprehensively negative picture is due to the inclusion of the ethnic categories Gypsy Roma and Traveller of Irish Heritage in the Pupil Level Census, a result of lobbying by ACERT and  other voluntary organisations.

But recognising the problem is not to address it. There are signs that the DFE may be about to reinstate the Stakeholder group and are contacting local authorities for examples of good practice! The good practice exists, in the dustbins of the department, where it was chucked, unceremoniously in 2010. Bite your lips; they really may not know any better. 

We know what to do: we just need the support of Government to do it. Peter Norton, and ACERT member, called for action in his letter to the Guardian, while Cassie-Marie McDonagh, of the Traveller Movement wrote a powerful opinion piece, explaining why things were unlikely to change quickly.

But good practice is not enough; it is a myth to say schools know best in all areas of practice; schools are mainly preoccupied with hitting centrally set guidelines, monitored by OFSTED. The guidance needs to be more explicit and schools selling Gypsies, Roma and Travellers short, should go into the Requires Improvement category. 

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