Tuesday, 31 January 2012


Need for formal impact assessment

Writing on Facebook the other day (25 January) I realised that I had been drawn into discussing a question that had not  occurred to me before: how to assess the impact of Conductive Education.

I was pleased that this had happened. I realised that I have not previously seen explicit, public mention of Conductive Education's 'impact assessment' (though this is not to say that informal, implicit and/or behind-doors assessments are not being made). Further, I realised immediately that I had stepped tight out of my depth.

Wot no impact assessments for CE?

Were I working in the 'real worlds' of commerce, public administration, the military etc. – even academe – then I would have to know about such a things and. Where Conductive Education is in regular real-world contact, achieving an explict impact assessment is surely a matter of continuing concern for those running CE systems for provision, training and anything else. This would be certainly the case if looking for funding from Her Majesty's Government and the European Union and, I suspect from all a sorts of other bodies too, public and charitable, around the world.

A quick look on Google for “impact assessment” has found me over ten million hits. Search for “impact assessment” AND “conductive education” and some five-hundred break surface. I do not have time to read through all these but a quick skim suggests that the two topics are ships that have passed in the night without actually connecting. Maybe I missed it but I saw no actual, completed impact assessment for CE mentioned there.

Please, please, please correct me if I missed some.

I could be so wrong,and maybe Conductive Education's impact has been well assessed – and, if it is not, then perhaps plans are already well afoot for formal investigations aimed to produce the sort of 'evidence' so important to justify funding and survival in today's managed world.


Meanwhile, for my own satisfaction, how might one measure CE's impact? I doubt that the criteria that occur to myself would have much general appeal in the world of resource-management but here, in no proposed order of importance, are a few personal ones from off the top of the head.
  • How prevalent is successful conversion of 'CE' experiences (pedagogy, upbringing; programs, schooling) into sustained conductive lifestyles (I am endebted to conductor Susie Mallett for emphasising this dimension)?
  • How much are the goals and methods of Conductive Education appreciated (both senses) by workers in special education, rehab etc. – or even known?
  • Ditto for families and disabled people – and their organisations?
  • Ditto for the media, decision-makers, politicians, and the popular consciousness as a whole?
  • How extensive is awareness and enthusiasm for CE amongst potential users ('is there a demonstrable demand')?
  • How far do the founding and maintenance of centres/programs depend upon closely involved individuals, their immediate associates and families (rather that upon corporate and/or understandings and goals)?
  • What is its institutional permanence (I have always been struck by how short a life-span David Dvorak's survey found for so many US centers – is this changing over the years)?
  • What is the long-term satisfaction of all the hope, expense and effort (what after-taste does CE leave in the mouth)?
  • What are the effects of CE upon take-up/demand for other services, parental 'shopping around' for alternative programs...?
All the above should be quantifiable by means of concrete indices and no doubt others could be suggested.


It is so easy to proclain that 'Conductive Education' has been set up in this country or that, by this organisation or the other, and interesting to read the continuing stories of individual solutions to the problem of providing or accessing conductive services. And nothing is more gratifying that to learn of the success and gratification that might be the fruit of all the effort involved.

But for all this how far  has Conductive Education put down roots, deeply and strongly enough to withstand the test of time — and especially the test of hard times?

I think that this is the question of impact-assessment raised by other means.


  1. Hi Andrew,
    An interesting subject for the field of Conductive Education, with evaluation of 'impact' being a key theme in many aspects of education at the moment. As well as identifying questions for evaluation, which could undoubtedly produce a breadth of information regarding impact, I would also suggest a review of the evaluation methods used? I have worked both in Conductive Education and in Behaviour Analysis and found that the evidence base derived from application of Single Case Designs as used within Behaviour Analysis could offer a really useful way of building up such evidence of impact within Conductive Education. An idea for the future?

  2. I had not really written the above notes with intervention-outcomes for individuals in mind but you are so right, Lisa.
    One of CE's many lost opportunities has been its failure to incorporate the sorts of outcome-methodologies that have been long commonplace in clinical psychology. It is wonderful to hear that at least one conductor is immersing herself in ABA and hope that you are not (or do not remain) alone in this.
    It SHOULD have been an idea for 20+ years ago. Never mind,there is still time, not merely in the future but NOW!
    Good luck, and keep in touch.
    PS Please take the above as index of my enthusiasm for single case design, not necessarily for behavioural analysis of CE!