29 teachers and other education support staff joined the first Education Support Network Zoom call on 9th December 2020. The response was heartening because there was wide representation from across England and their contributions suggested that there is plenty of good work continuing despite the many challenges faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families and the services trying to promote their inclusion and opportunities.
Lisa Smith, ACERT chair, who previously worked as part of the Worcestershire TESS, described how important was the support her family received from the service, allowing her to progress to Higher Education and wider career opportunities. She emphasised the importance of creating a strong support network in a hostile political and media climate, without the support of NATT and under the threat of the pandemic.
Contributions came from Darlington, Hampshire, Norfolk, Liverpool, Worcester, Sussex, Wiltshire, Greater Manchester, Middlesborough and Cambridgeshire. People had different roles within local authorities, as traded services and in the voluntary sector, working from Early Years to adult education and addressing a wide range of issues relating to health, accommodation and benefits in addition to education focuses of access, attendance and achievement.
Several participants described their work, much of which was innovative and encouraging. Most reported education in staff numbers, reorganisation and changes in the relationship with schools. Several services still meet with those from neighbouring areas to share ideas and coordinate provision. In some cases staff have adopted new skills to respond to the priorities of schools and the pressures on mainstream services.
It was decided that we should arrange to meet each half-term. ( Jan 27, Mar 10, April 21, June 9 and July). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to participate and have not received an invite.