I strongly support the determination of the community of show people in our city to retain Section 444/6 of the Education Act.
This gives them the flexibility to maintain the travelling lifestyle demanded by their jobs, while their children retain their places at schools in Gloucester (and elsewhere) - often going on to achieve very good results. Both the academic results of the children and the strength of families would be seriously damaged by proposals to repeal Section 444/6.
The showmen of our city have been a colourful and important part of Gloucester's history for over a hundred years. And the fairs that showmen run across the country , including our own in Gloucester Park, are a part of our traditions. Children of show people travel with their families during the season of fairs, sending homework by e mail to their schools in Gloucester.
Any repeal of 444/6, in order to prevent truancy by children, would have unfortunate unintentional consequences on this community.
Without protection from prosecution 444/6 the show people will find themselves outside the law, which is unnecessary and should be avoided at all costs.
The presence of mobile teachers or organises remote learning with the schools at which their children attend is the right way to handle this issue, and what happens at the moment.
Pool Meadow resident June Squires told me that when she was a child and forced to join schools wherever her parents worked, different schools didn't know how to integrate her and she learnt nothing. By contrast younger residents, benefiting from 444/6 have gone to schools like Sir Thomas Rich, did remote learning and achieved good A level results.
Last week I joined Alney Island residents and Councillor Pam Tracey to meet many residents - who without exception signed a petition to retain 444/6.
Pam Tracey has been campaigning for the rights of the show people for a long time: “Their traditions date back hundreds of years. They make plans to school their kids on the road while they travel, working with their schools. This must continue!"
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I would like to add my name to the long list of people calling for the Department of Education to Consider the impact that repealing Section 444/6 will have on travelling showmen.