Sunday, 7 February 2010

The future of Conductive Education in the UK

Catch the tide or miss the boat?
The future of SEN – VII.

Twenty-odd years ago the pioneers of Conductive Education in the UK, whether would-be users, professionals, media people, politicians, or individual and institutional supporters, were clear about what they were doing what they did. Despite their particular individual emphases, they were all activists. They saw Conductive Education as an catalyst for change in existing ways of construing and providing for children and adults with disabilities, for their families, and for those who offered services for their benefit.

They saw Conductive Education as a potential agent of change, but increasingly found themselves in a context where the only change was to be 'more of the same'. Now, as in many aspects of life, more radical reappraisal is on the cards. In 2010 is Conductive Education ready and able to stand forth.

This posting is the seventh in a series if seven. In the first of these, I wrote –

Readers' comments and queries will be very welcome throughout this process and I hope that these will cover not just wider issues raised but also relate to matters more specificly to do with Conductive Education.

I did not hold my breath. In the event, thank you to Norman Perrin, and Adelaide from Australia, and the journalist whom I quoted in the sixth of these postings. As for everyone else, thanks for nothing.

Inter alia, Norman commented on the third of this series of postings –

In my view this is an opportunity for CE in the UK like never before. Am I a lone voice in thinking this? If anyone reading this cares to, just contact me. I'll be happy to meet and talk.

I know that Norman too is not prone to breath-holding behaviour. I do hope that the Good Ship CE in the UK can get its act together, and act. Otherwise Norman might be better saving his breath for striking out on his own.

BRUTUS. There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Julius Caesar, act 4, scene 3, lines 218–224


  1. For a start:

    don't tell me that they haven't been Royal Commissioning for a century now (if the figures in part 6 are straight: Wikipedians will possibly record the major ones).

    They've had reports and inquiries aplenty.

    And there's a definite gap in the market for Royal Commissions.

    Something about people with "high and complex needs".

  2. Sorry, I expressed myself poorly.

    I was not referring to Royal Commissions in general. Of course there have been lots over the last hundred years or so (not least in Australia, though they have been rather less common in the UK over recent years). I should have been clearer: I meant Royal Commissions on what people presently call 'special educational needs'.

    There have been enquiries (like Mary Warnock's) but a Royal Commission carries more authority, both in its powers to take and examine evidence, and correspondingly in the notice that might subsequently be taken of its findings and recommendations.

    The time is past for chummy chats and unchallenged warm fuzzies.

    I disagree with the second half of your comment, on two accounts:

    (1) it invokes the too-often unquestioned concept of 'needs' , one of the first aspects of present ways of thinking that requires keen, critical examination;

    (2) it implies that the seriousness of certain children's developmental disorders that makes them an especial problem, whereas the problem is surely systemic and system-wide.

  3. David Cameron
    The Times
    3 July 2008

    "Let me give you two examples of how this virtuous circle can work.

    We will give parents the power to set up new schools. Once parents are more closely involved in how their child's school is run, they will take more responsibility for making sure it is a success. That will drive standards up and provide our society with the economic and social security that a skilled workforce brings.

    The same goes for welfare reform. We will give more power to charities and social enterprises that really know how to get people into work - paying them for their success. Armed with this power, they will have a greater stake in - and a greater responsibility for - making success. And their success will mean more people moving from long-term poverty to long-term employment.