Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the National Association of Teachers of Travellers (TF 31)

  As President of NATT National Association of Teachers of Travellers, I wish to bring the experience of our members who work for Local Education Authorities and with the travelling communities, including Showmen and their professional organisations, to this inquiry.

  Our members are advisers and teachers but also parents, individuals, members of local communities.

The continued value of historic fairs

  In all of those capacities the charter fairs represent living continuation of our history. They are an important part of the local history story and important to the character and identity of an area.

  The statute/charter fairs are special calendar dates bringing entertainment into people's localities. The fairs attract attendance from across the age range providing real family and community entertainment.

  The fairs (Showmen) pay particular attention to disadvantaged, disabled and school groups within the locality and extend the entertainment specially to them. They are equally responsive to project work from school groups giving their time to answer questions, demonstrate machinery or techniques, enabling pupils to visit and comment on their living vans.

  We should not forget that Local Authorities earn revenue from the showmen nor the fact that causal labour is provided by the fairs. The historical importance of the fairs can and is being continued through modern practices.

The particular needs of Showpeople in carrying out their trade

  NATT has been a key player in supporting the promotion of short courses for Showmen in local colleges.

  High tech fairs such as those marking the Charter fairs require skilled operators. Family education has sustained the community and the industry for generations, but new skills need to be added, eg business management, and existing ones need formally accrediting and recognising if the fairs are to remain innovative, exciting and well run entertainment.

  Flexible short courses based in local colleges represent an important need within the community.

Any other matters which may arise in the course of questioning

  It is not the role of NATT to comment on planning guidance or planning.

  Outside the travelling period it is important, however, that families have a stable and secure place to stay and from which they can access local amenities including schools and colleges.

  Schools and colleges local to winter quarters can be supportive in developing the skills and expertise necessary to meet the needs of the Showmen.

    eg Distance Learning work—which is school based, linked to the school curriculum and designed to keep children in touch with classroom as they travel.

  Short Courses for Showmen in recognition of this limited time they stay in the winter base before the travelling season begins.

  Winter quarters therefore, are essential to the well-being of Showmen's families. This represents cost effective and cost efficient planning.

Kanta Wild-Smith
President NATT

February 2000

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 2000
Prepared 2 March 2000