Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Conductive Education fantasy

Did you catch this news item last week?

Published: 05/11/2007 - 12:39:51 PM

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls was urged to take decisive action on cerebral palsy by backing a national strategy and a ten-year plan of action on cerebral palsy and motor disorder.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls was spelling out his plans for education at a conference in London over the weekend.

He was urged to support a national strategy and a ten-year plan to include fundamental changes in supporting children with cerebral palsy and motor disorder – this includes conductive units in mainstream schools, better training for teachers and classroom assistants, building specialist conductive schools among other important issues.

Hundreds of organisations, community groups, parents, carers and people with special educational needs are writing to their MPs backing the call of the Conductive Education Campaign UK for a fully comprehensive debate on special educational needs.

The Children's Secretary Ed Balls and Shadow Secretary Michael Gove are being asked to support a full SEN debate in Parliament.

Dr Vincent Cable, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, has pledged to do more for people with cerebral palsy and motor disorder. The campaign has all-party support in the Palace of Westminster.

Cerebral palsy is a neuro-developmental disorder. According to estimates over 500,000 people in the United Kingdom have cerebral palsy.

Researchers have suggested that around some two or more in a thousand children may have cerebral palsy. It is now one of the most serious education and health issues facing the nation.

The Conductive Education Awareness Campaign UK is urging Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Her Majesty's Government to act now in order to cater to the needs of children and people with cerebral palsy – if no action is taken it could place a great deal of pressure on public services. Campaigners say that a ten-year plan is absolutely vital.

No, I didn’t make it up. I copied it down verbatim, except that I took out the word ‘autism’ and a few things that went with it, and substituted some others relevant to Conductive Education and its concerns.

Silly exercise? No, I don’t think so in that it reminds us just how far Conductive Education has fallen out of the public gaze over the years, following what for a short time looked like an unstoppable political campaign. Twenty years ago, look where Conductive Education was in the country’s media and look back to the political furore, from Margaret Thatcher down, that surrounded it. What were the relative public positions of Conductive Education and ‘autism’ then, and what are they both now?

What have the autistic people done right over the intervening years? More to the point what have the conductive people done wrong? Was it the Balkanisation of the parents’ movement, dodgy research, conductors’ failure to create a national professional presence, the destructive activity of the Spastics Society (now Scope) or what? There are reasons aplenty to account for the political failure of the political movement for Conductive Education in the UK.

Comparison between the two sectors, even pace public recognition of the sterling work of people like Magdi (previous post), shows the colossal leeway that has now to be made up after failure to maintain the initial explosion of public awareness and enthusiasm. . A couple of countries, New Zealand and Israel, show that the long haul is possible.

So, what’s to do in the countries where this is not happening to generate the sort of political pressure for change that I parodied above?

You tell me.

If you’d like to read the original report you can find it on 24dash.com (‘news for the public sector and beyond’) at:

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