Wednesday, 9 June 2010

What is a conductor worth?

What is reasonable fee for a private arrangement?

A question

A conductor-correspondent has come to that sometimes awkward life point when her child is about to start school and she can return to the fray. In her case this potentially means doing things conductive once again. She lives in England, a country that might look well 'conductivised' from the outside but contains vast tracts of land where institutional Conductive Education has established no toe-hold. She lives in just such a place. She has, however, been asked by a family to do a few hours a week privately over the long summer holidays.

What, she asks, is a fair and reasonable fee to charge?

Can 'the market' answer?

In 2010 I have absolutely no idea how to amswer her question. Nor, in 2010, do I know of any sensible body to which I might direct her for advice – another example of the pervasive institutional failure of Conductive Education in the United Kingdom.

This far into the development of personal conductive services (some twenty years or so in the United Kingdom)k, she is on her own. So, of course, is the family involved. Of course, economists would argue, the market price for a commodity is determined by the price that somebody is demanding for it – and by what somebody else is prepared to pay.

That is what a market, a soukh, a casbah, is all about – you haggle. But really, in England, in 2010? Things should surely be better that this.

They are not. So, without much hope of a resounding response, Conductive World asks conductors the sort of fees that they might charge, and families the sort of sums that they are prepared to pay.

I am also asking the same question on CONDUCTIVE WORLD JOBS and CONDUCTIVE WORLD MARKET:

Please let Conductive World know of any suggestions or experiences to help define sessional fees for family service, so that this information might be passed on. You can do so either publicly, on the JOBS or MARKET pages and here on Conductive World, or in confidence at:


In any other sector I would expect that such a simple human appeal for information to fellow-conductors/fellow-families, would draw down a lively and considerable response. I do hope that Conductive Education's apparent death-wish does not make itself felt here, to prevent people helping themselves by helping others.

There are always comparators to serve as a guide, of which the most obvious are conductors in other countries and people in analogous trades.
  • Other countries. Go not down this route. There is no possibility of an 'international rate', even at times when currencies are stable. It is always interesting to know how many dollars somebody earns in the US, how many euros in Germany etc., but only if you are thinking of moving to that country and are sensibly weighing up all sorts of factors, such as the cost of living. (Indeed, simple financial comparisons can be misleading even within a single country: what might be a reasonable fee in the West of London would not be appropriate in most English country towns!)
  • Other trades. What is an appropriate comparison. I suggest thatr one might be the private special-education tutor employed by a family of a child with so-called dyslexia. One might argue that a conductor is worth more, dealing with an indubitable disability by means of an indubitably relevant training – good luck to you if you wish to go down this route. I draw the line at comparisons with 'private physio' – there are limits, though, again, yours might be different. If conductors and parent-employers wish to think of a conductor as a private special-education tutor, then type dyslexia tutors into a simple Google search and take your pick. You could even ask the various dyslexia organisations, both nationally and around the country, what are their recommended rates

So, where are we now?

Just possibly readers of Conductive World will respond and comment in ways that solves my correspondent's immediate question.

If she or others follow up on the dyslexia suggestion made above. then maybe this will come up with useful background guidance that couldbe shared.

Maybe others will wish to amend or supplement the principles ofered above – in which case, please do so.

But really folks, isn't this an awful situation for families and conductors to be in at this state of the game. By coincidence, this morning Norman Perrin, who is both a father of a disabled young person and one of the most experienced CE-providers in the United Kingdom, celebrated his return from holiday with a blog posting. He and his family had had a great break but now he is back to the dust-dry but essential world of 'governance' of CE. When I write 'essential' I am aware that Norman is the only person in the whole of CE in the UK who gives this topic any explicit public attention. He writes of 'governance' –

Sounds dry and heavy, compared with the 'real work' of delivering conductive education... For the past 15 months (and more, as we took part in the first national BoardsCount™ programme before that) Governance has not been far from my working thoughts: preparing for and then introducing a Board of Governors for Paces School, as a sub-committee of Paces' main Board of Trustees. This has proved a major change that, despite all my engagement with governance, still surprised  me with its impact.

One thought has come to me though: although much is written on Governance, for me, it comes down in its essence to one thing: conversations. Were I allowed one word to define or characterise good governance, that would be it: conversations. And if allowed to expand a little, I would say good governance is about managing formal conversations: who is talking with whom about what, where.

Now take a leap: when it comes to conductive education in the UK who is talking with whom about what, where ?



  1. I don't mind sharing the amount/s i have charged for private CE. i've been qualified for 6 years to give people an idea of my level of experience. I have charged between £30 and £4O for an hour of private 1:1 CE depending on the amount of travel involved etc... i am aware of other people who have charged more and am also aware of parents having paid private physiotherapist between £50 and £60 an hour. I don't know how this compares to others but that is what i have done in the past. Also, just a comment on working at home indidividually - i personally have sometimes found myself feeling less like a conductor and more like a physio when i work 1:1 at home. it can be really valuable as the child can learn within their home environment but you have to make sure to challenge yourself not to simply go through the motions (i.e. lying, sitting, standing) of CE without making use of the fact that the child can then use those skills around the home - a process i have gone through which i found challenging. just my experience, not the same for all i'm sure.

    Andrew, if the person asking, or anyone else for that matter, wants to discuss any of this then please get in touch.

  2. Andrew,

    As you know I will be soon be in the same situation as the conductor that contacted you and will be working directly with families within their homes. The families I will be working with all offered me £60 for 90 minutes (£40 an hour). I thought this quite expensive but they all said they are happy to pay that amount and would even pay more as I would be required to travel almost two hours to get to some of them. In the case that people would come to me at home I would charge them less, £25 an hour. Obviously this depends on wether the conductor who cantacted you had facilities to work with people at home.

    My plan is to slowly start putting students together, working with them in pairs if possible to be able to reduced this price a little for the parents.

    I think the things to think about when providing individual sessions are, distance to travel, duration of session, cost of equipment (I presume conductor will take the basics with her), and possible rent of a room if not to be done at student's homes.

    Hope this helps.

  3. I know that these things vary between countries but three of us here in Germany have been discussing this very question on a regular basis. Two of us are self- employed the other half-half.

    We found that we all plumped for a similar fee, an amount that parents can just afford and we can just live on.

    This is an amount that is sufficient for those of us who live our lives here in Germany. It is important for the relatively few resident, self-employed conductors who live our lives here to confer.

    Conductors nipping in from elsewhere, primarily from Hungary, to do a particular job, then off again, don't have to live here on the money paid for these sessions, pay German taxes, rents, or all sorts of other overheads, so all our criteria for setting a price do not apply to them, they can charge less, or even try to charge more.

    I am sure that the same is the case in the UK and wherever you have your "own" conductors and also people there just temporarily. The price being paid must really be the one that is a living wage in the country where the work is done.

    Here is a further twist to the question. Recently the three of us answered an appeal from a parent in another country who was hoping to start a new centre beginning with a summer school. We quoted her a price, relating to our experience and what we need to earn to pay our costs here, tax, rent, telephone etc, all of which still have to be paid even if we are away for a few weeks. The parent found it too expensive, opting for something else where the amount paid to the conductors did not relate to what we need to live on in countries like Germany and the UK.

    It is interesting that what we decided on and what the parents are able to pay us is almost identical to the prices that Becky and Jules quote from the UK.

    What is important to consider is what you are charging for your travelling expenses. House visits from physiotherapist cost a lot more here in Germany than a session in the centre!

    I charge for my travel expenses whether it is a day visit or visit to stay in a home for a week. If it is a day visit involving a journey so long that it means I can do no other work for the rest of the day I also charge for the hours that I travel.

    If I am travelling somewhere where I will stay for the whole week I charge only for the travel costs not the hours travelled.

    When I was discussing this with my colleagues we all said that in the end we must be happy to do the work for the price being paid and as self-employed conductors we are in more control of this factor than perhaps conductors are who are employed at a centre.

  4. Sheila Fuller works as an advocate in education tribunals, and social care and some medical negligence cases. She works independently but supports some families on a pro bono basis, as they would otherwise be unable to get financial support from any agency and cannot afford to pay for input and advice. A lot of the children with whom she works are involved in Conductive Education.

    Sheila writes –

    When dealing with medical negligence cases the current private rate for physios. and OT's is around £65/70 per session of around 45 minutes, plus a travel allowance which is variable. Some quote just mileage but others include mileage and time. Often the view is that, if clients are paying out of their own pockets, to charge the lower rate. If others are paying, then they charge the higher rate.

    In my view conductors are easily on a par, depending of course upon age and experience