Chair’s Report at AGM 2010

September 25th 2010

I would like to thank the ACERT Executive Committee for their continued support over these busy and uncertain times.

ACERT has been proactive in the past year. There have been meetings with the DCSF and I would like to thank Geoff Brown and Andrea Smith for arranging and chairing the joint discussions with NATT+ which have kept us informed with the development of the stakeholders group and relevant issues relating to Travellers and education policies.

ACERT has responded to consultations ensuring the voice of the Traveller child was recognised in government proposals. This was done in partnership with NATT+ and the Traveller Reform Project. The consultations were as follows:

  • Home Education – registering and monitoring proposals
  • Recording and Reporting Incidents of Bullying Between Pupils and Incidents against school staff
  • The future Distribution of School funding

We have welcomed over this year an increased response to enquiries and membership applications. At least two of these enquiries were from people or Gypsy/Traveller heritage. This can be attributed to the development of the ACERT website which Graham Alexander continues to manage. His expertise has been appreciated in ensuring we continue to offer a high profile and serve as an effective proactive organisation.

I would like to thank Margaret Wood who has led much of the work on the response to proposals, most recently she applied for a Centre for Social Justice Award. Although this was unsuccessful the application has served to raise the profile of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller issues.

ACERT continues to diversify its skills and has read and commented on the proofs for a children’s novel by Caroline Binch published by Frances Lincoln. The author gave readings and ran workshops at Education on the Hoof in Appleby.

Appleby Fair continues to be a success and has been well organised by David Sheard, Cumbria County Council. There was support from High Stanners from Norfolk, whose dedication to the Fair and work with Travellers is valued by TES and the Gypsy people who enjoy his musical talent.

There has been representation by ACERT in the following events:

  • Roma Support Group Conference February 2010
  • Launch of @Teachers & Human Rights Education@ book by Audrey Osler & Hugh Starkey Trentham
  • Visit Paul Salmons and Kay Andrews at the Holocaust Education Development Programme, Institute of Education, University of London to discuss their inclusion of Roma and Sinti
  • Annual Children’s Rights Symposium 2010, Children’s Rights Alliance for England
  • Contribution to planning of Cambridge University seminar for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month
  • Tim Everson and Margaret Wood continue to support the planning of the ACERT Conference, which is to be held on 5th November at Euston Friend’s House. The aims of the conference are to cover as the title suggests are to examine ways Travellers can still be included in these time of change.

All Change? Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Inclusion

Writer, broadcaster and Gypsy, Richard O’Neill will chair the conference. Through expert speakers and workshop presentations the conference will highlight current issues for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and address the way forward. Coming at a time of political change it will set out the context for progress. It will present strategies for responding to the diverse needs of the various communities in the light of cuts in local authority provision and the expectation that community and voluntary organisations will take on increased responsibility for taking the agenda forward.

ACERT’s most recent achievement has been the securing by of a meeting with the new minister, Nick Gibb. This has been an enormous step forward in a time of political change and uncertainty for the institutions that support GRT. I would like to thank Lord Avebury for leading on this and working with me to bring about the meeting and set the agenda.

I would like to thank Hilary Fothergill and Helen Creedon who have managed the finance, also Bill Forrester who led in opening new accounts.

Finally, a huge thanks you to Hazel Terry for her work organising behind the scenes to make the AGM happen.

We at ACERT look forward to the future, as a small but dynamic organisation we hope to continue to support Gypsy, Roma Traveller communities to retain their diversity and be fully included in the decisions of the politics of society.