ACERT Meetings

The ACERT Executive will be meeting between 5.00pm and 7.00pm in Room 936, Institute of Education, Bedford Way, London WC1 on the following dates. Any paid up ACERT member who wishes to attend will be welcome to attend the meeting from 5.30pm onwards. If you plan to come please inform us so that we can let you know of any last minute changes.

Email or telephone 020 8374 1286

  • 13 March 2012
  • 1 May 2012
  • 17 July 2012

The 2012 AGM will be held on Saturday September 22 at Millman Street Community Room, London WC1N 3EW.

Chair’s Report

Annual Report 2010 –2011

I would like to begin by thanking the ACERT Executive Committee for all their support over the last year. I have been Chair since 2006 and I would like to hand over the position to a new person. This is especially since my move to Cornwall has made the travel to London for Executive Committee meetings more difficult. I would however like to stay on the Executive Committee and my interest in the organisation remains as strong as ever.

Despite political uncertainty the year has been a very productive one. ACERT has responded to numerous reviews for the DFE, Ofsted and others and fully engaged in the consultations. These include:

  • Consultation on the Changes to the Admissions Framework
  • The Independent Review of the Children’s Commissioner
  • The National Curriculum Review – Call for Evidence
  • The Pupil Premium
  • Tickell Review of the Early Years Foundation Stage – Call for Evidence
  • OFSTED Inspection arrangements for maintained schools and academies from January 2012 (for OFSTED)
  • The Schools’ White Paper ‘the importance of teaching’
  • The U.N. Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) consultation
  • Future Target Setting
  • Consultation on tackling child poverty and improving life chances
  • The Wolf Review of Vocational Education
  • The Traveller Site Planning Policy Framework
  • DfE proposals to pilot a new hand held Record of Attainment for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils

There was a meeting at the end of last year with the minister Nick Gibb regarding GRT lack of attainment and our concerns at the DfE. There have been 2 joint meetings between the DfE, ACERT and NATT+ where Traveller issues were discussed, and we are beginning to see ways forward to building partnerships, and informing political players. There has also been a meeting at OFSTED with Christine Gilbert, HMCI and her colleague Sue Gregory the National Director for all school inspections. I would like to offer my thanks to Angel Overington and Andrea Smith who continue to keep Traveller issues high on the agenda of the DfE. I would also like to offer my thanks to Lord Eric Avebury, who ensures Traveller issues are considered in the House of Lords and has supported the Traveller people by providing a voice in parliament on areas that impact on Traveller families. He is currently actively involved in tabling amendments to the Education Bill 2011 as it goes through the House of Lords.

The ACERT website goes from strength to strength. This has been a huge development for our communication links and ACERT is grateful to all the support we have from Graham Alexander. His expertise and commitment have really been appreciated. The website has enabled ACERT to provide support to Travellers concerned about funding for higher education, advice to prison staff and prisoners, information about Appleby and other Traveller fairs such as Saintes Marie de la Mer, and responses to local authorities regarding planning.

In November 2010 we held the ACERT Conference, All Change? The Future of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Inclusion in the New Coalition Era, which attracted a high calibre of speakers and a renewed interest in the membership of ACERT. We had successful feedback. I would like to offer my thanks to Margaret Wood and Tim Everson as the prime organisers of this event.

In the past year we have liaised with a number of other organisations and individuals with whom we share concerns. These include:

  • The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (ACERT has joined CRAE)
  • The Gypsy Council, whose Big Society workshop In Cambridge was attended by ACERT EC members
  • Robin Richardson at Insted (www.insted.co.uk)
  • The Travellers Aid Trust in connection with their Panel Enquiry into Gypsy Sites Policy
  • David Sheard at Cumbria County Council regarding our continuing, though reduced support, for Appleby Fair Education on the Hoof
  • The Romany Theatre Company who launched their education pack, Atching Tan, and requested endorsement for a new funding bid
  • Thomas Deacon Academy in Peterborough concerning Roma students
  • A correspondent who is interested in Gypsy music
  • Michael Doherty, the journalist
  • Equality www.equality.uk.com a national support organisation for Roma

We have also worked with Delaine Le Bas to enable the ACERT artworks from the Secord Site Exhibition could be more widely used in Suffolk schools.

Early in 2011 Lord Avebury wrote on behalf of ACERT to all Directors of Children’s Services in England requesting information and reassurances with regard to continuing support for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller education. Almost 40 local authorities responded. Despite significant cuts to Traveller Education Services the message was that local authorities understand their obligations to these groups and that they are working to improve pupil performance. ACERT has written back offering further advice and training.

The AGM was very successful last year with a number of issues covered. These included

  •  Lord Avebury who feedback on the new political development
  • David Sheard Community Officer for Cumbria gave feedback with Hugh Stanners from Norfolk TES on the successes of the Appleby Fair project
  • Katy Swaine spoke from the Children’s Rights Alliance for England
  • Emma Nuttall spoke from Friends , Families and Travellers
  • Lucy Beckett spoke from the Traveller Law Reform Project
  • We had a successful discussion about how we could support the TES in the new political climate

The AGM ran very smoothly and this would not have happened without the hard work of Hazel Terry who works tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the day is a success. I would also like to thank our treasurer Helen Creedon, also Hilary Fothergill who ensures the accounts are in order and has always been in the background providing support.

Finally, I would like to finish by thanking David Cannon who has worked with ACERT over the years and whose expertise and support have been invaluable. His decision to stand down, following thirty years in the field and focusing on future priorities is completely understandable in the present political climate of redundancy and change. He has asked me to pass on his deep thanks for the fond memories and his sincere best wishes for the future of ACERT. We as the ACERT Committee wish him all the very best for his future journey.

Pat Barr

Chair of ACERT

AGM 2011

This year’s AGM took place in late September, again in The Community Rooms in Millman Street, London.

You can view the day’s agenda here

Elections

The new executive committee for 2011 – 2012 was elected as follows:

Chair: Brian Foster

Vice Chairs: Tim Everson & Bill Forrester

Treasurer: Hazel Terry

Committee: Thomas Acton, Pat Barr, Kate D’Arcy, Sally Palmer, Verity Nelson, Helen Blow, Anne Walker, Margaret Wood.

Chair’s Report

Pat Barr reported on the year for ACERT

Read Pat’s address

Update

Eric Avebury delivered his update speech at the AGM. You can read his speech in full by following the link below.

Read Lord Avebury’s speech here

Cuts to Traveller Education Services

Michael Doherty reported on his research into the extent of cuts in Traveller Education.

Read Michael’s speech

Traveller Education: A DfE Perspective

Angela Overington spoke on behalf of the Department of Education.

Read notes on Angela’s talk

The Roma Support Group

Laura Grearson and Gabriella Smolinska-Poffley spoke about their organisation. The presentation file can be downloaded below. Note that this is a large file – over 18Mb in size.

Download Roma Support Group Presentation

Download Roma Support Engagement Programme Leaflet

Equality

Presentation by Alan Anstead

Traveller Education

A Department of Education Perspective

Angela Overington

Department for Education
Underperforming Groups Team
Improving Pupil Performance Division
www.education.gov.uk

  1. Angela Overington (AO) thanked ACERT for the opportunity to speak with them on an informal basis and share some initial thinking about next steps for GRT education policy. She informed the group that on 9 September 2011, the Department will release national attainment data for different minority ethnic groups based on teacher assessments at Key Stage 1. In late November/early December, Key Stage 2 attainment data by pupil characteristics will be published. Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 2 attainment data, broken down by pupil characteristics, will be published in mid-December.
  2. AO explained that, as a general principle, the Government believes that schools and Local Authorities are best placed to respond to local needs and priorities, and should take a lead in tackling the underperformance of disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils. She explained that just over £201m has been provided to schools this year via the Dedicated Schools Grant to help schools improve the performance of ethnic minority and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils, as well as those learning English as an Additional Language. Schools can use this funding to ‘buy in’ support or specialist advice, to employ an additional teacher or teaching assistant or to fund community outreach work with local Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils. Where Schools Forums wish it, the funding may be retained at Local Authority level to provide centralised Ethnic Minority Achievement and Traveller Education Support Services.
  3. AO explained that the Government wants schools to have the same high expectations for all their pupils, regardless of background or ethnicity. The Department for Education will continue to monitor and publish information about the progress and attainment of individual pupil groups, based on national tasks and tests, and will continue to pay particular attention to the achievements of disadvantaged, underperforming or vulnerable groups, including Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils. The Government is also refocusing school inspection around the core areas of achievement, teaching, leadership and behaviour/safety. Within this more streamlined approach will be a requirement for Ofsted to consider the extent to which the education provided at the school meets the needs of all its pupils. This means considering the data on all groups and individuals, with a particular emphasis on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.
  4. AO updated the group on the progress that has been made by the Ministerial Working Group on Gypsy and Traveller Inequalities. Chaired by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Ministerial Working Group is due to report on the outcomes of its work before the end of the year. The intention is that the report should form the basis of a cross-Whitehall strategy for tackling Gypsy and Traveller inequalities.
  5. AO explained that Education Ministers were still considering the content of the education strand of this report. Among the ideas currently under consideration, and on which she sought feedback from the group, were:
    • Seeing whether any of the lessons learnt from the Virtual Headteachers pilot for Looked After Children could be applied to GRT pupils;
    • Looking at ways in which attendance among GRT pupils could be improved;
    • Identifying and sharing latest models of effective practice in schools in raising the attainment and attendance of GRT pupils; and
    • Exploring how GRT role models could be used to raise educational aspirations among GRT pupils.
  6. AO said that, in addition to these key areas of interest, the Department is already:
    • closely monitoring a three year pilot focusing on groups of pupils who are disproportionately affected by exclusion. The pilot is now running in 300 schools and will look at the impact of making schools directly responsible for arranging and paying for alternative provision for excluded pupils; and
    • supporting the GRT Education Stakeholder Group – chaired by Lord Avebury – in putting together combined responses to the School Funding consultation and the Children’s Commissioner’s inquiry into the disproportionate exclusion of vulnerable groups (including GRT pupils).
  7. AO said that, in line with its Schools White Paper commitment, Ofsted is currently conducting a survey on prejudiced-based bullying. This will involve inspectors talking to pupils about their experiences of bullying and the way in which it is handled in their schools. Bullying of minority groups, such as Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils, will be picked up in this survey, and the results will be published early next year.