Saturday, 13 June 2009

State responses to CE in the UK

Inconsistant, or what?

Two small news items in this morning's papers in the United Kingdom demonstrate again what some might see as contradictory responses to CE from different arms of the state.

On the South Coast, honour

Announcement of the Queen's Birthday Honours List today includes an MBE (Member of the British Empire) to Helen Somerset How, parent and fundraiser, 'for services to the Rainbow Centre for Conductive Education'.

Her local paper reports:

In the 19 years since she co-founded the centre, it has helped more than 400 children through conductive education – a technique that helps coordinate movements and promote greater independence.

Without any government funding, it's been a constant effort to raise more than £500,000 every year to keep the centre open.
But Helen has been instrumental in that fundraising effort, including a move to a new £1.2m centre in Palmerston Drive in 2006.

This is the first time that the British honours system has recognised Conductive Education since Maria Hari was awarded and Honorary OBE (Order of the British Empire, the next grade up).

(Maria Hari's award had to be honorary since she was not a British subject.)

In Northern Ireland, the brush-off

In Northern Ireland the saga of Buddy Bear has beeen running for around the same long period. Two years ago there appeared to be a breakthrough, with the pledge of funding from the Northern Ireland Assembly. Since then, however, the Executive has persistently refused to deliver the funds.

This morning the Education News of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers reports on the continuing stand-off. Brendan McConville of the Buddy Bear Trust asks: democracy a myth in Northern Ireland?

If the Assembly agree on something, how can one minister deny it? Bureaucratic red tape is holding special needs pupils back across Northern Ireland.

He was speaking in response to recent comments from Minister for Education Catriona Ruane MLA that the money promised to the school is no longer available.

Common ground

Governments and their bureaucracies are never monoliths. Only the most determined conspiracy-theorist could believe otherwise. There are of course all sorts of confounding variables in the two situations reported above, both in the programs involved and in the arms of the state that are dealing with them here.

The more cynical, however, might identify one dimension on which, albeit at different ends, the two circumstances can clearly be placed, the flow of funds:

  • the Buddy Bear School wants state funding (go away!)

  • the Rainbow Centre will let the state off the financial hook (all hail!)


--- (2009) School demands Government investment, Education News, 12 June

Donovan, S., Kula, A. (2009) Honour for founder of Rainbow Centre, Portsmouth News, 13 June

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