It’s no joke

While it’s great to have national newspapers and cabinet ministers speaking in support of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers, it has taken the lowest form of humour from Jimmy Carr to achieve it.

‘When people talk about the Holocaust they talk about the tragedy and horror of six million Jewish lives being lost to the Nazi war machine. But they never mention the thousands of Gypsies that were killed by the Nazis. No one ever wants to talk about that, because no one ever wants to talk about the positives.’

Jimmy Carr – His Dark Materials

Bluntly put, he’s saying, “I find it funny that over half a million Roma and Sinti died or were exterminated.” That’s it; that’s the joke. He makes a very comfortable living from that quality of material. He had a previous effort using the olfactory sense of the Gypsy Moth. Edgy? No, clumsy.

Carr’s hate speech was even too much for Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, who previously claimed ‘left-wing snowflakes are killing comedy’. She said is was ‘abhorrent’ and ‘just shouldn’t be on television’.

Zarah Sultana who has consistently supported Gypsy, Roma and Traveller rights and the All Party Parliamentary Groups for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers, and for the Prevention of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity have called on Netflix to remove the hate material.

The Traveller Movement has started a petition also calling on Netflix to remove the offensive material with a target of 25,000 signatures.

Please share this as widely as you can so everyone who finds can make their views known.

John and Yoko school

Robin Marriot, the son of George and Mary Marriot, contacted ACERT to share the story of how John and Yoko Lennon supported a caravan school on a roadside camp in Bedfordshire.

I came across your report concerning the above schools. My Dad, George Marriott, a disabled WW2 veteran, and my Mum, Mary, herself disabled, although not Gypsies themselves, were heavily involved in Gypsy Welfare in Bedfordshire from the mid 1960s until the 1980s, due to the inhumane way in which Gypsy people were being treated throughout the county.

Gypsy protest @ Harlington 1969

As you know, at that time, with no permanent sites for Gypsy families, it was impossible for their children to receive even a basic education and my Dad had the idea to take education to the children via roadside caravan schools. 
But how to fund them? I was 19 years old at the time and a Beatles fan. I was aware that John & Yoko Lennon were involved in a number of projects outside of making music so I suggested that my Dad should write to them and ask for financial help to start up the caravan school project.

Some time later, out of the blue, on 1 December 1969, a telegram was delivered saying, “We are behind your project. Will send money immediately. Love John & Yoko.”

A cheque for £100 duly arrived and my Dad negotiated the purchase of a second hand 32 foot long caravan that would be sited on the roadside close to the M1 bridge on the Caddington to Luton Road. Local press covered the story which was picked up by the nationals. 

Much to my Dad’s embarrassment The Daily Mirror incorrectly reported that the Lennons had donated £1,000 so he immediately contacted them (John & Yoko) to alert the to the incorrect report.

A few days later a letter arrived from John & Yoko with a cheque for £300 and a “PS” saying, “Use it well, but don’t tell!”. With the additional funding a second caravan was bought that Mr Gerwyn Davies, a supporter of the cause over many years, allowed to be sited at his school in Kensworth. 

Unfortunately the Caddington school was burnt and destroyed by so called “vigilantes” or brainless idiots as my Dad referred to them. 
I remember well Gratton Puxon and Tom Acton and their involvement, as well as Jeremy Sandford the author of Cathy Come Home and Yehudi Menuhin the violinist. 

I was  pleased to hear that Gerwyn and Mrs Davies are still with us. My Dad was a great admirer of him and the way he embraced “The Cause” in spite of the unpopularity of the project among local residents. 

As a footnote, when my Dad died in 1996 the Luton News and Dunstable Gazette (they referring to him as the “Gypsy Champion”) reported the event. To our surprise a number of Gypsies attended the funeral, some of them were by this time adults who had attended the schools and been taught to read and write !

With kind regards,
Robin Marriott

NEU motion in support of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers

The National Executive of Britains largest education union has adopted a resolution opposing racism and hostility towards Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and seeking ways education can be used to challenge and reverse it.

a. Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities

Proposer: Dominic Byrne Seconder: Louise Regan

The Executive notes that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities continue to face an ever increasing climate of racism and hostility.

We note The Police and Crime Bill, in criminalising the nomadic way of life, is adding to the social exclusion and racism faced by the GRT community.

We stand in solidarity with GRT communities and oppose all anti-GRT racism.

We recognise that there is still much more to do in the fight against anti-GRT racism in Education. A recent study by The Traveller Movement found that one in five Traveller pupils felt they had to leave school due to bullying and two thirds of those surveyed felt bullied by their teachers. GRT children are excluded from school disproportionately compared to other ethnic groups. In addition to this, Gypsies and Travellers are 10 times less likely to go to university than their peers and fair worst in terms of educational attainment.

As with all discrimination, education is at the heart of challenging it. The NEU has a long history of standing in solidarity with the oppressed and using our skill as educators to challenge racism in all its forms.

We call on the executive to:

1. Work with the GRT community and organisations to produce educational resources to be shared with members, so they can be used in schools and colleges to raise awareness and challenge discrimination.

2. To continue to oppose the Police and Crime Bill and actively support Gypsy, Roma and Traveller led demonstrations against the Bill such as “Drive to Survive”.

3. To work to influence government, opposition parties and local education, to provide funding, issue guidance and offer training to enable schools to develop policies and practices to address the continuing educational disadvantage of these children.

4. To keep pupils from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities high on the Union agenda particularly in all publications relating to inclusion and equality, racism and bullying.

5. To actively seek ways to increase the recruitment of school staff from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller ethnic groups and provide appropriate support to encourage their retention in the workforce

6. To make a commitment to providing training to build the confidence and ability of teachers to support these pupils.

7. To review NEU publications/guidance etc, to make sure that in relevant placesnthese groups are explicitly included.

8. For the NEU to affiliate nationally to the Advisory Council for the Education of Romany and other Travellers (ACERT) and Friends, Families and Travellers.

Early Years Senior Practitioner vacancy in Central Bedfordshire

Salary: £28,099 – £30,719 per annum

Base Location: Sandy Children’s Centre, Sandy

This role is an opportunity to be part of a pilot project to work with Gypsy Roma and Traveller children and their families, where there are issues relating to engagement in education. We are looking for the right candidate to build relationships and support children and families to raise aspirations for learning. Working collaboratively with partner agencies and across teams in Central Bedfordshire Council, this is a fantastic opportunity to find your greatness.

To apply and for further details please visit or contact Cathy Brighton   Tel: 0300 300 6311