Has Big Fat Gypsy Wedding affected your children’s education?

David Enright, the solicitor who led the successful campaign to challenge the Channel 4 “Bigger, Fatter, Gypsier” campaign has asked any families whose children have experiences abuse or attacks related in any way to the broadcasts or advertising campaign to contact him at d.enright@howe.co.uk or  phone 0800 157 7070

Alternatively send a message through ACERT.

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Poor start to implemention of Government’s equalities commitments

The ACERT president, Lord Avebury, has written to the Education Minister, Nick Gibb to express our concern about the first two education commitments in the Ministerial Working Group progress report, both of which involved OFSTED. ACERT had a positive meeting with Christine Gilbert (the then Chief Inspector) last year, but it would seem that Sir Michael Wilshaw (the current head of OFSTED) has different priorities.

Commitment 1 reads: “Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils are specifically highlighted as a vulnerable group in the revised Ofsted framework, ensuring that school inspections will pay particular attention to their progress, attainment and attendance”.

The 2012 Framework makes no reference to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children, or indeed to any other group of vulnerable children! The associated handbook for school inspection from September 2012 refers to Gypsies, Roma and Travellers in a footnote (15, p23) as those with protected characteristics, as defined by the Equality Act 2010. The previous version of the same paragraph in the evaluation schedule for the inspection of maintained schools and academies on p.5 explicitly included Gypsies, Roma and Travellers so the new version seems weaker than its predecessor.

Commitment 5 (p10) reads: “In line with its Schools White Paper commitment, Ofsted is conducting a survey on prejudiced-based bullying, which is now under way. 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 will be picked up in this survey, and the results will be published in 2012.”

The survey report “No place for bullying” includes one specific reference to Gypsies, Roma and Travellers:  “A third primary school that had an annual influx [sic] of Traveller children for a short period of time prepared all pupils for their arrival, exploring the Travellers’ culture and aiming to ensure smooth integration and a lack of bullying.”

Not only do we consider the word “influx” as indicative of the standpoint of the authors, but also the opportunity to highlight the concerns of many Gypsy, Roma and Traveller parents about racist bullying has been missed.

The text of Lord Avebury’s letter is below.

Letter from ACERT President to Nick Gibb

Donation from Cambridge Primary Review Royalties

ACERT is one of five charities to benefit from a share of the royalties from the seminal Children, their World, their Education: final report of the Cambridge Primary ReviewThe decision reflected one of CPRʼs key recommendations:

While recent concerns should be heeded about the pressures to which todayʼs children are subject, and the undesirable values, influences and experiences to which many are exposed, the main focus of policy should continue to be on narrowing the gaps in income, housing, care, risk, opportunity and educational attainment suffered by a significant minority of children, rather than on prescribing the character of the lives of the majority. The governmentʼs efforts to narrow the gap in all outcomes between vulnerable children and the rest deserves the strongest possible support.

In his letter making the donation to ACERT, Professor Robin Alexander wrote:

…we are particularly pleased to be able to support ACERT. As part of our evidence-gathering process we met a number of Travellers and heard about their educational aspirations and concerns, and these are referred to in our final report. Thereʼs also a happy symmetry in the fact that the CPR is the biggest and most comprehensive enquiry into English primary education since Plowden, and Lady Plowden founded ACERT.

ACERT Executive Committee will consider how to use the donation most effectively to develop CPR’s recommendations in relations to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. Prof. Alexander also wrote, “From next September it moves into a new phase, building capacity in schools through publications and CPD.” We hope we will be able to collaborate to ensure this phase includes key messages about the ways in which schools can ensure every children has the opportunities to reach their full potential.

CPR royalties go to charities tackling disadvantage

Do 2011 GCSE results show low achievers suffering from loss of support?

The trend (shown by the dashed line and the right hand axis) in number of pupils registered for GCSE or equivalent examinations at KS4 has continued to rise over the past four years. The gradient is steeper for Gypsy/R0ma pupils, which will be influenced by growing numbers of Roma pupils in the education system. The percentage of Gypsy/Roma reaching the benchmark 5 or more A*-C grades has also shown a significant rise. The fact that the 5+A*-C with English and Maths, has remained relatively flat, suggests that these improvements may be due to increased flexibility in the curriculum at KS4,  of which Michael Gove is critical. Newly arrived Roma pupils may also find difficulties reaching level C and above in English.

The table showing Irish Traveller results shows a much more noticeable change in 2010, with the greatest impact being a reduction in the proportion of candidates getting five or more A*-G grades.

We would suggest that the loss of encouragement and mediation from TESSs may have had more effect on these pupils than those heading for A to Cs.

It is important to remember that these figures are based on those pupils ascribing to the ethnic codes Gypsy/Roma and Traveller of Irish Heritage; DFE research found 2/3 of Gypsies and Irish Travellers,  and 4/5 of Roma, changed their ethnic codes between Y6 and Y11.