Date: Friday 26th June 2020
Time: 09:30 – 17:00
The recent Race Disparity Audit revealed that young people from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities experience severe educational exclusion. The closure of many Traveller Education Support Services and as a result the closure of the National Association of Teachers of Travellers (NATT+) in 2018 has left a gap in provision.
Many families have been left with no one to turn to when dealing with their children’s education. School teachers no longer have a support network to help them understand best practice to include Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils and promote their achievement and opportunities.
ACERT believes there is a need for a network that supports both professionals, schools and families to ensure every child gets the opportunity to reach their full potential. Our aim is to bring people together and build strong relationships in and across Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities by upskilling professionals and better informing parents.
Our aim is to host an interactive community-led networking event for: voluntary sector, professionals, TESSs, schools, LAs, alternative providers, H&FE and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller parents and carers.
Our Objectives are to:
- To provide an opportunity to celebrate and share examples of good practice
- To create a network of support for parents and families, schools and other education settings working towards removing the barriers to educational inclusion so that every child can reach their full potential.
- This event will be an opportunity for practitioners to up-skill and consolidate existing knowledge and for parents to become better informed about their child(s) education.
Put the date in your diary and watch this space.
Despite the thoughtful and largely positive recommendations of the Women and Equalities Committee last year, we have just seen a Government elected whose only policy on Romanies and Travellers is to increase police powers against families on roadside camps.
Last year the professional association of teachers and supports workers for Traveller Education (NATT+) folded, and in most areas of the country, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller parents have no-one to turn to if they are struggling with their children’s education.
ACERT believes that parents, who have faced and overcome challenges in getting their children a decent education, could provide advice and support to others in a similar position.
Our plan is to try and develop and support a parent’s network, on-line and face-to-face, where parents can raise and discuss questions and concerns, and hopefully get answers from other participants. We are also developing a dedicated website where can find clear basic information for parents about enrolment, appeals, attendance, curriculum, Special Education Needs, exclusions, home education, further and higher education, and child protection, regularly updated in response to the issues raised is by the network.
With the demise of Traveller Education Services and financial cutbacks, teachers who may want to understand their children better often have nowhere to turn for advice and information. So we would like to plan something similar to help them give our children a better deal.
Our conference of 26th June in Manchester aims to attract parents and teachers and to engage them in developing the ideas in ways that will work best for them.
Our aim is to present ideas to the conference and for participants to discuss them in workshops. To make sure our ideas are relevant and realistic, we would like to discuss them as widely as possible in the run up. If you would be willing to help us in this you can join our mailing list on the topic email@example.com using this form. We also plan to hold online meetings in mid-February for anyone expressing interest.
Last week the veteran Romani writer, activist and musician, Dr.Ronald Lee died. His funeral is on 29th January 2020, in Canada.
Of his background and early education, of both Rom and Romanichal heritage, I heard various accounts, not least from himself. His life became public when, while working as a museum curator he wrote the semi-autobiographical novel “Goddam Gypsy”, which, along with his articles in the dying days of the Third Series of the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, showed the most intricate and nuanced knowledge of the great variety of Romani communities in Canada.
After finishing his novel he went to England in around 1969 to try to join in the great adventure of the new Romani politics of the Comite International Rom. He found this somewhat disillusioning; he had always been both a cultural and linguistic nationalist and an advocate of Romanestan, and the struggle for caravan sites for Romanichals in England and for civil rights for Rudari in Paris, which were the main practical activities of the CIR at that time, did not enthuse him. He did however work with Donald Kenrick to produce what is still the easiest and most effective primer for learning Vlach Romani. (Learn Romani, UHP press) and spend time with Jim Penfold in his house in Battersea. He became a fast friend of the old London Roma, who were related to the Roma he had worked and lived with in Canada.
Disillusioned with both the Gypsy Council and the Gypsy Lore Society, he decided to return to Canada in 1970, in time for the actual publication of his novel, and following that earned a living for the rest of his career as a journalist. He remained the representative of the CIR, and sent a voice recording of his poem “Angla Mande Dui Droma”, about the agonising dilemmas of the educated Rom to the first world Romani Congress in 1971. I remember the awed silence as his sonorous, absent voice echoed around the school dining hall in which the congress was held.
He visited England occasionally as a journalist; I remember Mr W.R. Rishi and his sons hosting a dinner for him in Croydon where I and his fellow-journalist David Altheer of the Times were present – Mr Rishi put photographs of us all, looking so much younger than today, in the journal Roma. But the bulk of the 1980s were a period of disillusion with the perennial failure of Romani politics, and of too much reliance on alcohol to dull the pain.
All that changed when Roma refugees began to come to Canada after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. One Canadian Roma activist started a small organisation to help asylum seekers and went to Ron and begged him to get involved again. And he did! It was as though his whole life had been a preparation for this moment. His intricate knowledge of the comfortable, settled, Canadian Romani communities meant that he could go to them, and had the right words to tell them that they could not remain silent when ignorant gajo Canadian politicians were unleashing floods of poisonous racist rhetoric on East European Roma fleeing the racism which the fall of communism had unleashed. He knew the answers, and could pass them on to the younger generation of Canadian Romani intellectuals, and he could do the cultural politics of music and art which could engage the immigrant Roma.
In the 1990s he came to be what he had always wanted to be, an authentic hero of the Romani revolution, rekindling the networking and intellectual energy of his youth. But whereas in 1970, his message to the old London Roma had been “Stay hidden, stay safe from the anti-Gypsyism which plagues the Travellers” his message now was that the Romani bourgeoisie could not dare stay safe and hidden when other Roma across the world were being beaten, killed, robbed and marginalised just because they were Roma.
He not only wrote more, but taught a university course on Romani Studies in Toronto for some years, and was given, to the applause of the Romani political world, an honorary doctorate. Thanks in great part to him, the Romani political and cultural struggle in Canada is an example to the whole world. His years in the wilderness were essential preparation for his years of achievement. We miss him, but his writings, recordings and spirit stay with us.
Thomas Acton – ACERT Trustee
A pioneering pilot research project into the psychological effects of hate crime on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities is underway.
Take part and have your say by completing this short survey here: https://bucks.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/a-pilot-research-project-into-the-psychological-effect-of-2
The project aims to establish an evidence base for the significant anecdotal evidence that highlights the ‘ripple effect’ of experiencing hate crime on mental health. In particular it has been suggested that repeated exposure to hate crime may be implicated in high incidences of suicide (or para-suicide) within Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.
Buckinghamshire New University are undertaking this pilot research project for community led organisation GATEHerts. The project has been funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee (MCHLG).