Ofsted changes focus

The office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) announced on the 16thJanuary a radical overhaul of school inspections that could yield more inclusive practices within the education system. They are currently seeking views on proposals for changes to the education inspection framework from 2019. The consultation closes on the 5thApril 2019. Have your say and find out more here.

“We are proposing an evolutionary shift that rebalances inspection to look rather more closely at the substance of education: what is taught and how it is taught, with test and exam outcomes looked at in that context, not in isolation.

Outcomes clearly matter and will of course continue to be considered, in the context of what is being taught. But we all know that too much weight placed on performance measures alone can lead to a degree of distortion, both in what is taught and not taught, and in other aspects of how a provider is managed. We also know that those who come to education with a disadvantage of any kind are more likely to be directly affected when these distortions happen.”

 The change by Ofsted came after concerns from the commons education committee about “off-rolling” – also referred to as backdoor exclusions–of young people across the country. The committee also criticised the government’s focus on school standards had led to practices that have resulted in disadvantaged children being disproportionately excluded.

ACERT welcomes Ofsted changes as we know Gypsy Roma and Traveller pupils are disproportionately impacted by poor practices such as these. We hope this shift will encourage schools to focus more on the quality of education received by children rather than the outcome they will be held accountable to fostering more inclusive practices.


Needs being met by Pupil Premium says minister

On the 9thJanuary  The Women and Equalities committee held its the fifth and final evidence session of the enquiry into inequalities faced by Gypsy Roma and Traveller communities.They heard from Ministers from the Department of  health and social care, the Department of education and the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government. 

The new children and young people’s minister, Nadhim Zahawi rejected a call to set aside money specifically to help GRT children in schools and that, “there needs were better met through pupil premium”.

 A one size fits all approach continued to take precedence despite calls by educationalists, activists ad charities to ringfence funding amidst fears that many schools are not using their pupil premium funding to help children from GRT communities.

The committee Chair Maria Miller asked Mr Zahawi to write to the committee about, “whether or not the pupil premium criteria really are picking up on the needs of children in this community”; we look forward to reading and sharing the response in the coming months.

Labour MP Gavin Shuker also noted the government and Ofsted guidance on bullying rarely mentioned GRT despite reports of high levels of bullying and harassment in education settings. The Children’s Minister noted that more needed to be done but said the DfE was funding activities to combat bullying and had published a document to help schools to address this general issue.

Be lucky in 2019!

The Executive of ACERT would like to wish our friends and supporters the best of luck for 2019 … we’re going to need it!

Brexit has dominated the political agenda for the past two years, and shows no sign of taking a back seat any time soon. All options seem possible, No deal, another referendum, a general election or even the deal on the table. Roma in the UK feel particularly vulnerable, but all Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are threatened in a climate of nationalism, xenophobia and racism. The UK government seems incapable of learning the lessons on Windrush, treats asylum seekers in inflatables as a threat to national security and those who seek to prevent inhumane deportations as terrorists Looking to East and West we see the same and worse, with democracy and human rights on the back foot, increasing inequality and alarming alliances between plutocrats and autocrats.

Closer to home, successive governments have ignored a mass of evidence suggesting that the inclusion of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers through education and opportunities has stalled and gone into reverse. The network of TESSs has virtually disappeared, which has resulted in the organisation which supported them, NATT+, ceasing to operate. As an organisation NATT+ had similar objectives to ACERT, although with a more professional than community focus, and we are saddened to lose their advocacy.

On the plus side however ACERT had a very successful conference and elected a new executive with fresh ideas of how we can have greater impact. We will continue to work closely with Travellers’ Times, The Traveller Movement, London Gypsies and Travellers, the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Organisations and Friends and Families of Travellers; we are developing our Social Media presence and developing a campaign to reinstate local authority support for families attempting to access education. We’ll continue to work with the All Party Working Group and the Women’s Equality Committee, as well as individual parliamentarians and the DFE stakeholder group. And although we are not a casework organisation, we receive a regular stream of requests for help from community members which we try to address or refer to an appropriate organisation, such as the Community Law Partnership.

Our membership is small but committed, and we have a monthly mail out to 400 contacts, Twitter and Facebook feeds as well as the website. If you are interested in supporting our work practically please use the Contact ACERT page on the website. If you would like to support our work financially you can set up a small monthly payment via the home page of our website. We would be very grateful.

In spite of it all, we wish you a peaceful, prosperous and fulfilling year.

Te Aven Baxtale

Y12 and interested in dentistry or medicine?

Training to become a doctor or a dentist is a great option for people that want to help others, but it can seem daunting. The Medview and Dentview schemes are 4 day courses run in April by King’s College London to help prepare for applications and study.

They are open to anyone who has started year 12 or an access course in London, and are interested in applying for medicine or dentistry at university.

This year King’s College London are prioritising Gypsy, Roma and Traveller students so be sure to spread the message – but the applications close 6th January.

In the new year we will be advertising more nationwide opportunities as well as opportunities for younger learners too – We’ll keep you all informed!