At this time our thoughts are with all our members and friends who are struggling with health issues, caring responsibilities, isolation, work insecurity and financial hardship. We are grateful to all those who are trying to keep services going and minimise the impact of the virus on our lives.
ACERT EC has had no alternative but to postpone the Networking Conference scheduled to take place in Manchester on the 26th June. The Friends Meeting House has had to close and even if it reopens before the scheduled date, we won’t have time to organise the event.
We hope that our annual conference and AGM will go ahead in October in London and we plan to hold the networking conference in Spring 2021 in Manchester.
The EC has been holding meetings over ZOOM since before it became fashionable, so we are geared up to continue our discussions. Last month, we consulted with other organisations and individuals about our plans to develop a parents network, and we will continue to develop those ideas so we are ready to hit the ground running when the restrictions are lifted.
A peer-led research project by the Traveller Movement, with the support of ACERT and Southwark Traveller Action Group. found that many Gypsy and Traveller pupils experience high levels of racist bullying in school which in turn is hampering their educational attainment, leading many to leave school early without any formal qualifications.
The research was sponsored by the Mayor of London’s Citizen Led Engagement programme. Over a six month period, eleven peer researchers conducted forty-four qualitative interviews with young Travellers in London aged 15-25. The young people discussed school experiences, being bullied, their reasons for leaving school early, family support and what changes were needed to make school life better for Gypsy and Traveller young people.
ACERT hosted two online meetings to share our ideas for a parents’ network and dedicated website offering advice and support on issues related to education. These are associated with the Networks Conference to be held at the Friends Meeting House in Manchester on 26th June.
The material on the website will also be downloadable as a booklet for families. It will be written in direct, jargon-free language, emphasising parents’ rights and linking to other organisations supporting parents.
We also aim to include a chatroom where parents can discuss the issues which concern them, and those with more experience and confidence can empower each other.
The online meetings were positive and we learned about important work being done across the country. There is a need for an updated listing of support services across the UK and details of the kinds of assistance they can provide.
Feedback from participants was that it is a needed initiative, but would benefit from video clips, ideally of parents sharing their experiences and suggesting how issues might be tackled.
The list of issues now includes:
Finding a school place
Bullying and racism
Transport to school
Transfer to secondary school.
School homework expectation
Post 14 options
Further and Higher Education
…but could be extended further in future.
Please let us know if there are other topics which we should address and if you would like to be more closely involved with the development of the network.
The online meetings were conducted using Zoom, which is similar to Skype but with better quality and stability. It allows anyone with an internet connection (it works fine on Smartphones) to participate in the development of the network.