Friday, 2 January 2009

On the road to an austerity economy

Will there will be corresponding 'austerity CE’?

A happy new year for some

The pound might not be worth much nowadays on the international currency markets but it may still go a long way, in certain directions anyway, as the austerity budget swings into gear.

Poundland, has announced that it will be taking on a thousand new staff over 2009 as it expands its national chain of ‘everything-for-a-pound’ stores.

And J. D. Weatherspoon’s, the national pub chain, that has managed to open two hundred new pubs over the last two months, will be selling pints of beer and bottles of lager at under a pound (and some meals for £2.99) . It says that these price reductions will run ‘indefinitely’.

Conventional wisdom is that in hard times people are more honest. Well, maybe, in some places. Here’s an encouraging report. A do-it-yourself shopkeeper in North Yorkshire left his store open on Boxing Day, with nothing more than an honesty box. Shopkeeper Tom Algie was rewarded by takings of £187 and no stolen items.

Austerity CE?

Such reports, and no doubt others will follow, are no more than the tiniest straws in the wind. It is comforting to look on the bright side and take the optimistic view that there may be some kind of change in the general mind-set of how things might be done.

What might one to see in Conductive Education? Suggestions please. Better: practical experiences.


--- (2009) Poundland in 1,000 jobs bonanza, Express and Star, 1 January

--- (2009) Pub chain Weatherspoon's slashes price of pint to under £1, The Herald,
2 January

Malvern, J. (2009) We are open - just pay in the honesty box, The Times, 1 January


  1. CE suggestions?

    Just before Christmas, I had occasion to speak with John Wingfield of UHY Wingfield Slater, a Sheffield accountancy firm. I asked him what the significace was of "UHY".

    John told me that it indicated that the historic "Wingfield Slater" firm was a member of the UHY Hacker Young Group of independent UK partnerships.

    The big advantage is that a respected local firm like Wingfield Slater can draw on the expertise of "78 partners and over 415 professional staff working from 16 locations around the country", so as to provide a wide range of accountancy services and specialisms.

    Essentially "UHY" is both a brand and a pooling of expertise for members' specific purposes.

    I am increasingly of the view that conductive education in the UK would benefit from something similar, a coming together of individual CE centres under one banner.

    (By the way, UHY is a *worldwide* network. Now there is a vision for CE)

  2. I like the way this blog is becoming more than conductive education.

  3. I have been doing” austerity” for years now and I am sure a lot of other conductors have too.
    If you take a look at my last posting for 2008, “Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr” you can see that the conductive groups are also being affected.
    I would love to know how other conductors are managing.

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  6. (Reposted this morning, when I saw how many typos there were in what I wrote late last night!)

    Thanks Norman. Can I suggest that you take a lead in this and test out whether it's a runner. There have been at least a couple of attempts to unify the ununifiable in the United Kingdom over past years but 'people' wrecked any chances of success.

    Maybe harsher times will encourage people to recognise that one possible route to survival is through collective action, leadership (and its more important little chum, followership) and, perhaps in shortest supply of all, the willingness to share financial resources, to the last few crusts.

    Good luck to you, I shall support your position in what few ways I can.

    And thank you, 'Anonymous', I appreciate that. It would be so lovely to sit comfortably in the quiet of the evening, listening to the band and from time to time rearranging the odd deckchair.

    I should love on this site to tackle all sorts of theoretical and practical questions but the time is up for that sort of luxury. There's no one on the bridge, indeed there's no bridge, and the whole caboodle is sliding inexorably into the maelstrom.

    The time to deal with specifics will be when the survivors crawl ashore and start rebuilding their new world. They'll need a lot more that the wreckage of Conductive Education as we have known it to make a half-way decent job of this.

    One might reasonably note a degree of contradiction between my reply to Norman and that to Anonymous. Quite right, there is. That is because I am torn between two contradictory positions:

    (1) the survival of existing institutions, their people and their practices;

    (2) the long-term survival of Conductive Education itself.

    At the very least it would be naive to propose unquestioningly that (1) and (2) presuppose each other.

    I will support Norman and his wholly commendable quest to keep existing CE shows on the road through whatever plausible mechanisms that might be devised, if only out of sentiment, loyalty, and pure bloody stubbornness.

    All the same, I do regard the present world order in CE as part of the present problem rather than part of its future solution. On the first and final analysis, it has been for CE, not institutions or even people, that I am in the game at all.

    Awkward and pusillanimous, yes perhaps, but contradictory as it, this is a position that I do recommend for all those 'believers' whose long-term interest is Conductive Education itself and all the good and decent things that it has come to stand for.