Monday, 31 March 2014


Don't get caught in the Act

Amidst the uncertainties of introducing the new system of special educational needs in England the answer to one question at least is very clear for families of disabled children and the services that serve them (and that means CE services too). On Special Needs Jungle Tania Tirraoro reports –
The weeks are ticking by since the Children & Families Bill became an Act. But does this mean that everything in it has become law straight away?
The answer to that is NO, but according to many parents, some schools, local authorities and others who should know better are trying to tell them otherwise.
The Act doesn’t come into force until it is commenced and different parts can be commenced at different times. The plan (if the Code of Practice goes through without a hitch) is to commence Part 3 (the SEN Part) from 1st September 2014. After this you must apply using the new system...

There is more. Read Tania Tirraoro's full posting. And remember, this applies now.

We live in hope

I would like to hope that all CE services providing for children and young persons in England are 100% up with the progress and implications and obligations of the New Act, and that there is nowhere so daft and irresponsible as to have a finance and fundraising strategy that does not incorporate this as a central pillar.


Tirraoro, T. (2014) SEN reform: can I still apply for a statement? Special Needs Jungle, 31 March

Sunday, 30 March 2014


It's the way that you do it
That's what gets results

News of the upcoming release of the Upsee raises again the question of the difference between how one teaches and brings up disabled children* in CE and the pervasive and implicit ideas of help and 'support' that trap and curtail so much learning and development elsewhere.

The apparatus was developed by conductive mother Debby Elnatan and her son Rotem.

The Upsee is of course only a tool, an instrument for movement. Like any other tool it can be used both to teach and therefore enhance development, and to rely upon present levels and therefore reinforce dependence.

Sometimes one sees and hears it presented that there is some sort of conflict between Conductive Education and the use of tools. Ironic, this, since at the very core of learning in CE stands mediation, and the interiorisation of the most human tool of all, the word.


Online seminars on 1, 2 and 3 April will offer opportunities for anyone interested to follow this further – and perhaps offer a view. Register for this here:


Schenker, R. (2014) The Upsee, Conductive Post, 30 March


* The same of course applies for the lives of disabled adults and those who care...

Saturday, 29 March 2014


'Conductive Education practitioners'

Immigration ruling on conductors

The latest issue of the ever-informative Newsletter of the New Zealand Foundation for Conductive Education is now on line.

A item of possibly great interest to many outside New Zealand was the report on the New Zealand Immigration Authority's new ruling on the immigration status of conductors intending to work in that country –
Conductors are to no longer be included on Immigration’s Long Term Shortages List.

The main reason given for this by Immigration, was that the numbers of conductors who each year apply for visas to come to NZ to work is too small to warrant continued inclusion on the list.
Immigration has assured us however, that as there is clearly no training facility in NZ for conductors, there is no opportunity to employ New Zealanders in the role. The option therefore is to use the 'Skilled Migrant' category when applying for visas. This option can also be used by conductors when applying for residency.
NZFCE will continue to pursue inclusion on the LTS List by making a fresh application in July.
(p. 2)

This does not mean that conductors cannot now think of going to work in New Zealand – but it will not be any easier to do so. In the longer term, of course, the New Zealand Foundation's attempt to reverse the new situation may prove successful..

As ever, though, it is the back story, what has been going on behind the scenes, that might be more interesting that the public decision.

Conductive Education Practitioners?

On 27 March the Global Timesa daily Chinese tabloid newspaper focusing on international issues, published the following –
324日,新西兰移民局对2013年前的长期短缺职业名单(Long Term Skill Shortage List,简称 LTSSL)及即时短缺职业名单(Immediate Skill Shortage List ,简称ISSL)进行了重审。
移民局从长期短缺职业名单中除去的14项职业,分别为:听力矫治专家学家(Audiologist)、营养师 (Dietitian)、医院药剂师(Hospital Pharmacist)、工业药剂师(Industrial Pharmacist)、内部审计师(Internal Auditor)、医学诊断放射线技师(Medical Diagnostic Radiographer)、助产士(Midwife)、职业治疗师(Occupational Therapist)、整骨医生Osteopath)、零售药剂师(Retail Pharmacist)、特殊教育指导(Conductive Education Practitioner、专家经理(未分类)(Specialist Manager not elsewhere classified)、语言治疗师(Speech Language Therapist)、城市和区域规划师(Urban and Regional Planner)。从即时短缺职业名单中除去的有餐厅经理及咖啡厅经理等5种职位。
新西兰长期短缺职业名单指的是那些经过审核确定在新西兰存有长期人手短缺状况的职业。长期短缺行业的移民雇员将能够申请获得Work to Residence签证或Essential Skills签证。另海外的雇员在进行移民申请时,还将能获得10分的额外加分。即时短缺职业名单指该行业在新西兰存有即时短缺情况。海外雇员如果条件或经验符合要求,虽无法在申请移民时获得额外加分,但其工作签证申请将会得到优先签发

In so far as I understand this, it means that the Economic and Commercial Counsellor of New Zealand's Embassy in Beijing says that the NZ Immigration service announces its list of shortage occupations. These follows a list of occupations, with English-language translations provided, including the mysterious 'Conductive Education Practitioner'.

Surely some confusion here...

Maybe this is just another translation problem.
  • The newspaper item refers to Tèshū jiàoyù zhǐdǎ – 特殊教育指. I think that this might refer to some kind of special educational counselling or guidance, in which case 'Conductive Education Practitioner' is just a mistranslation.
  • The newspaper report does not refer to the more familiar Yǐndǎo shì jiàoyù – 引導式教育 , the expression is usually translated into English as 'Conductive Education'.
Maybe this is last year's list.

Maybe I am confused in some other way.


– (2014) Immigration’s Long Term Shortages List, Newsletter of the New Zealand Foundation for Conductive Education, March

(2014) 新西兰移民局对14项长期和5项即时短缺职业名单进行重审, Global Times, 27 March

Thursday, 27 March 2014


Major contribution to knowledge

It is at least possible that the large tomb just unearthed by construction works in Budapest is that of the sixth-century Scourge of God, Attila the Hun. A sword found there just might be his own.

Whoever occupied the tomb, this is as a find of considerable importance. If it is confirmed to have been Attila himself, this accidental find is of world significance.

NB, despite the similarity of the words, identifying 'Hungarian' with 'Hun' is a false etymology. The Magyars arrived in the Carpathian basin some four centuries later.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014


A new blog's born today
Caveat emptor!

It is not altogether clear what this new blog is called. Perhaps Conductive Education and World News is the title, with the descriptor 'Worldwide Developments Bringing Education Conductively to All'. It is anonymous. It can be found at an evocatively named web address:

Style is published on WordPress, in what must be that host's most Spartanly anonymous format. It may become more elaborate with time.

It includes pictures and video.

So far it is published in German and poor English.. There is poor English enough on line from native speakers of the language, but on balance this looks like it was written by someone else – with a quite a lot of cut and paste and a whiff of machine translation.


The inaugural. trial posting published this morning is a two-parter.

It kicks off with an announcement of last October's 8th World Congress. This comprises a short announcement in German and that embarrassing flag-wagging, whistling video, from YouTube.

The second part is a overview of the field of CE, some of which looks rather like it was translated into English from an available text or texts in another language,.


Whoever wrote it appears to access the whole field, but specific facts are often wrong and explanations are uncritically prone to conventional cliché and CE-speak.

Its credibility remains to be demonstrated.

Everything has a history

Conductive World used to run on two blogs, the one that you are reading now, under the '.inf' domain and a second one, a '.com'. The second one, the '.com' proved redundant and I ceased to renew its URL on 31 January:

This now defunct blog is archived on line, in full:

On 14 March I received an e-mail from Domain Names International of Colorado Springs, CO –
You may be interested in, which will be available by auction soon. You are receiving this email, since you have a domain that is similar.
You can confirm interest in this domain by clicking here:
I do hope that bidding was brisk and that the successful bidder had to fork out a considerable sum – though I doubt that there was much if any competition. It would be interesting know how much it went for.

When I decided to let my '.com' go I was aware that somebody could now move in on the vacant address but, short of keeping the site on for years (£10.00 a year, hardly prohibitive!), what else to do? Anyway, why should I do anything? The alternative might prove instructive, or even amusing...

And the future...?

I think of the Internet as a bit like a hight street or mall. I opened something there and created a sort of business under the name conductive world, and later added a small annex next door. The original site still attracts visitors and now has branches and associates elsewhere in town, so I closed down the annex leaving a vacant lot that someone else has moved into, presumably hoping to pick up some of the passing business. Who knows, everyone might benefit. Maybe others will follow suit. Why not? There are other very similar addresses that have never been occupied. '.org.' '.net', 'edu' etc...

I suppose that imitation is the best form of flattery. Anyway, the prospect of competition is rather jolly, whatever its motives, be they innocent, rip-off, spoiler, gauntlet.

The basic business of Conductive World is news, information, opinion, understandings. We might even get a press war. Caveat emptor!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


Crock of gold urgently required

Another English CE centre is facing imminent financial meltdown. Also on the South Coast, one of the Rainbow Centre's local newspapers, the Portsmouth News, reports –
PARENTS of youngsters with neurological disorders have pleaded with the public to save a support centre from closure. The Fareham-based Rainbow Centre will be forced to shut its doors after Easter unless £150,000 can be raised to keep it afloat...
Centre director Lara Bull said: ‘We need a serious injection of money. If we don’t get that we won’t be able to open after the Easter break.’
The centre currently supports 40 children and 37 adults from as far afield as Surrey, Dorset and the Isle of Wight. It employs 15 people and relies on support from a small army of volunteers. Ms Bull said: ‘We are literally the only conductive education centre on the south coast. If we’re gone, parents would have to take their children to Billinghurst or Aylesbury or London. We just cannot let this service go.’
Ms Bull said the centre cost £47,500 a month to run, which came exclusively from fundraising.
We don’t receive any government funding so community support has been our absolute lifeblood. We’ve managed to get through the recession but as with many companies and charities, we used up our cash reserves in the crisis and we’ve been living hand-to-mouth since then.’
Rainbow was created by John and Helen Somerset How and another family, Peter and Julia Mann in 1990, in the early days of popular enthusiasm for Conductive Education in the United Kingdom. Since then it has had its share of ups and downs but has come to seem an established force in the land, especially since moving to its purpose-built facility in 2005. Its services developed primarily for preschool-age children with cerebral palsy but in recent years have expanded to serve adults too. There were plans to build a second building on the site, for adults, and a campaign was started to create s conductor-training course linked with a university.

Means of service-delivery have been soundly conductive, to provide which Rainbow employs ten experienced, full-time conductors:


Rainbow has now made a last-ditch live-or-die public appeal. I never know what is the best course in such circumstances. £150,000 is a lot to rise piecemeal from such a desperate public measure. Going so public might do no more that alert bodies that could otherwise consider donating larger sums that this could prove a risky enterprise, effectively scaring them off. But who knows – this is a well-heeled part if the country...

By the way, Rainbow is not 'literally' the only CE centre on the South Coast of England, as a glance at the map will confirm:

Indeed over the last twenty or so years the South Coast had been relatively well provided with conductive service in a country that is far less well stocked with such provision than many overseas appear to imagine. That said, here as elsewhere in the world, CE services are most heterogeneous, and it is unlikely that parents will find another service quite like Rainbow.

Strange twist

In a later local report, The Southern Daily Echo adds further detail on what sounds like an established cash-flow problem, and suggests an unusual perspective to the story 
Although staff at the centre have been raising £47,500 each month to keep it going, more is needed in the immediate short term. Centre director Lara Bull said that the facility had been living hand to mouth for the past 18 months, with three board members having to lend the charity money to pay staff wages. Mrs Bull said that £150,000 would give the charity time to get back on track.New fundraising initiatives are in the pipeline, but the centre says that these need time to produce results. If it cannot be found by the end of the Easter bank holidays, the centre will not reopen and its 15 staff will be put on unpaid leave while fundraising continues...
Children learn Conductive Education, a system which develops new neural pathways to undamaged parts of the brain, helping someone to master control of their core muscles, limbs and movements. It aims to give them increasing independence.... 
But Conductive Education is not recognised by the NHS and therefore it receives no funding.
Of course CE is not funded by the National Health Service, nor should it be, since it is not a medical or therapeutic procedure. If anything has distinguished the conductive movement in the United Kingdom it is recognition that it is a pedagogy, and in adults a social-care process, and should be funded appropriately. Nor should it funded by 'the government', the general trend in England being for Conductive Education to find such state funding as it can through local authorities. Given the imminent national upheaval in all provision for disabled children and young people, in education, health and social welfare, now of all times offers interesting possibilities for the future for an organisation that stands at the intersection of the interests of these three major strands in the state's concerns.

Short of 'an urgent cash injection' – a  crock of gold  there maybe no immediate solution to Rainbow's cash-flow problems. In the longer term, however, Rainbow has been through lean times before and may yet rise again. But it will need a very different frame of reference from presenting itself as 'a system which develops new neural pathways to undamaged parts of the brain', if it is going to make serious headway under the new legislation for disabled children and young people and to get on to the local social-care agenda for older people.


– (2014) Parents’ plea to save Rainbow Centre, Portsmouth News, 24 March

Streatfield, E. (2004) Four weeks to save Rainbow Centre in Fareham, Southern Daily Echo, 24 March

Monday, 24 March 2014


Or the sound of one hand clapping?
Last year, from Sydney, a meta-review of evidence-based practice for children with cerebral palsy was published in the international paediatric journal Developmental Neurology and Child Neurology. Its apparently authoritative judgement on Conductive Education placed CE below a 'worth-it line', along with the apparently research-based advice 'Probably don't do it'.

Rony Schenker and I duly wrote a joint letter to the Editor for publication in the journal. This has now been published as part of wider correspondence stemming from this meta-review. Our letter is republished here in its entirely, with the permission of Peter Baxter, Editor in Chief of Developmental Neurology and Child Neurology –
SIR–The recent review by Novak et al. raises the spectre of conductive education research. Placing conductive education below the ‘worth-it line’, with the advice ‘probably do not do it’, restates a general conclusion of earlier meta-reviews and looks to mark the scientific verdict on research into the benefits of conductive education. Or is there an alternative?
Conductive education’s breakout from Hungary in the late 1980s has captured the attention and the enthusiasm of many families around the world, and brought experience of a developmental-educational paradigm for understanding and working with motor disorders. Conductive education is neither a therapy nor a medical intervention and is not provided by medical practitioners or by allied health professionals. It is an educational process, led mainly by conductors who are teachers (or special education teachers) specializing in conductive education pedagogy (3- or 4-year higher-education courses).
Most evaluation studies have utilized concepts and methods from the medical and allied health professions. Despite the clue inherent in its English name, however, conductive education has rarely been investigated by means familiar in education.
We face a paradox. The general finding has been that conductive education demonstrates little or no measured benefit – yet many users and providers continue to seek and to fund it. How to explain this? One possible explanation is that advocates of conductive education are deluded fools with no respect to the findings of medical science. Another is that medical science has failed to capture the social and personal benefits widely reported by users of this approach. If so, reliance upon medical-style evaluation may have both missed a trick and helped choke off development of a major humane and scientific advance. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It may instead be a function of looking in the wrong place, by the wrong means. If conductive education represents a paradigm, a philosophy, a way of life – in the specific area of childhood a style of childrearing – then medical-style research is but one amongst a number of possible ways to investigate this.

The review covered the evidence bases for interventions of various kinds, and Rony and I were not the only ones to make a public response. We do not know whether anyone else responded about this review's treatment of Conductive Education – just that ours was the only one letter published published on this specific theme. A number of responses (themselves refereed) have been published together in the latest issue of the journal, in return Novak et al. have responded to their critics. Their response includes brief reference to Conductive Education –
We welcome conductive education and NDT groups (such as Capelovitch, Mayston and Rosenbloom, and Schenker and Sutton) conducting more efficacy research, using rigorous methods, and measuring important and relevant end-points such as participation as Mayston and Rosenbloom propose.

That's it. For now.


Novak, I., McIntyre, S., Morgan, C., Campbell, L., Dark, L. Morton, N., Stumbles, E., Wilson, S.-A., Goldsmith, S. (2013) A systematic review of interventions for children with cerebral palsy: state of the evidence, Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, vol. 55, no 9

Schenker, R., Sutton, A. (2014 ) Researching conductive education, Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, vol. 56, no 4, pp. 402-403, March


Can it be achieved?

The attempt to deal with the inadequacies, stupidities and sheer abuse in 'special educational needed' has spiralled off into a colossal, confused shambles. Central-government ministers and officials, professionals and their bodies charities and lobby groups, all have a share in responsibility for this, and one has to wonder now whether they have between them the nous to sort the whole thing out on the ground when the time comes to implement the resulting 'system'.

If only those who might offer alternatives were free just to walk away and provide their own thing. Unfortunately, everything and everyone within the jurisdiction is now trapped in the officially determined mare's nest. At that level, with fundamental questions unaddressed and unlikely to remain so over the foreseeable future, it is not too early to say that the years of hope and effort have failed. Reform will not have been achieved.

It is of course too early for society and its laggardly SEN institutions publicly to confront and admit this. First, the whole thing will have to be implemented, tested out in practice, tried and, if this is how things are to be, found wanting. This harsh reality-testing is presently scheduled to begin on 1 September this year.

It increasingly looks, however, that even the opening initial implementation of the Brave New World of reformed SEN might not be properly achieved. See what Jane McConnell of IPSEA says:

This is a rather long, hard and disheartening item, with a very sensible suggestion in its tail. I wonder how many of those affected by the new legislation will make the effort to read this critical piece and consider what it says. If you intend to have any involvement with 'special educational needs' in England, in any capacity and at any stage of childhood and early adulthood, in any capacity as user of as a provider, or even as a volunteer or funder, then this is how 'SEN' is going too be – long, hard and disheartening. And that includes Conductive Education.

SEN 'reform' in England? It's déjà vu all over again. Again.


McConnell, J. (2014) The draft SEN & Disability Code of Practice 2014: Red light means danger – STOP! Special Needs Jungle, 24 March

Saturday, 22 March 2014


Another supposedly poor result for CE

An outcome study, published last year from the Misr University for Science and Technology, Cairo, looks like what a lot of people accept as 'CE research', It has a quasi-experimental design, statistical tests of significance, histograms, an impressive list of top-flight references The following has been exerpted from its formal summary – determine the effect of conductive education technique on gait pattern in hemiplegic cerebral palsied children... Thirty hemiplegic cerebral palsied children (20 left and 10 rights) with age ranging from 6 to 8 years... 17 males and 13 females... free from any associated disorders other than spasticity... IQ level within normal average range... divided randomly into two groups of equal numbers... Double blind evaluation... three months of treatment... Group A received a specially designed exercise program, while group B received a program of conductive education technique in addition to the same exercise program given to group A... no significant difference was evident in the post-treatment results in group B, when comparing the post-treatment mean values of the two groups... The non-improvement occurred in the measuring variables of group B may be attributed to the failing of conductive education technique in controlling spasticity of the lower limb muscles, which is manifested by the non-improvement, occurred in the hemiplegic gait pattern.

And what extra did Group B do?
The conductive education technique is widely used by occupational therapist and my by used by physiotherapist in the treatment of cerebral palsy. The general idea is to improve sensory integration with motor control which leads to more modulated motor responses, betters perception of the movements and improved coordination of line and gross motor patterns [7].

Conductive education is a systematic and holistic approach to develop problem-solving skills through an educational program for children with cerebral palsy and motor disorders. It is not a therapy but a multidisciplinary system that enhances the child's physical, cognitive, social skills and emotional well being [8]. Conductive education not just an exercise, it is “learning to learn” by intensive and repetitive practice, and the application of various activities necessary for progress. This applied to motor skills, balance, sensory for perceptual functions, emotional development, language and cognitive functions [9].

[7] Blondis, T. A; (1999) Motor disorders and attention, Pediatric Clinics of North America. Vol, 46, no 5, pp. 899-913.
[8] Bower, E. (1997) : The multiply handicapped child, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 315-356.
[9] Horak, F.B. (2001) Motor control models underlying neurologic rehabilitation of posture in children, Basel, Karger, pp. 21-30.

No further details are given on what actually happened, at whose hands and under what circumstances.

Some of the discussion
The findings in our post-treatment results of study group on gait parameters in children with spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy showed non-significant improvement when compared with the post-treatment results of the control group. This contradicts the results of an earlier study on flexion reflexes in patient with hemiplegic cerebral palsy (15), who reported that conductive education technique have an major effect on the improvement of motor skills in hemiplegic cerebral palsy.

On the other hand, the non-significant differences of all mean values of the gait parameters of the post-treatment results of the study group when compared with the post-treatment results of the control group. This findings agree with Gilliar (16) who concluded that the conductive education technique have no role on the modulation of muscle tone in spastic cerebral palsy.

Regarding to the non-significant difference in the non treatment results in both groups, this could be interpreted as, the oral translation into Arabic language of the conductive education program may be the cause of these non-significant results, as the songs, which used in the conductive education technique were conducted through the Engish language (17), or may be need of longer period of treatment.

[15] Dimitrijevic, M. R. (2001) : Studies of spasticity in cerebral palsy. Brain, vol. 91, pp.349-368.
[16] Gilliar, W. G. (1999) Neurologic basis of manual therapy in cerebral palsy, New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 11, pp. 1013-1020
[17] Patriquin, D. A. (2000) : Conductive education approaches to cerebral palsy. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, vol. 12, pp. 92-95.

I should to seen discussed in the first place why it was thought that whatever was done was thought likely to affect gait – and what other effects of these three months were noticed in the children, their families and carers, and those providing this intervention. I would have also liked to air the lack of reference to the literature on Conductive Education (including but hardly exlusively previous research)..

As significant but equal improvement was recorded in the two groups after treatment, the results of this work exclude the conductive education technique (in English) as an effective procedure to be used in conjunction with physical therapy program in improving gait pattern of spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy children.

Along time ago now Ludwig et al. drew perhaps the most important lesson to be found in reviewing CE research: the need for researchers to create and provide treatment manuals. The years since only emphasises the importance of this. I do not like blanket prohibitions but I now feel that the default position for interpreting outcome evaluations should be to discount all studies that do not manualise.

This minor study illustrates the problem all too well. The authors grant some space to describing their therapeutic and specially designed exercise programs but not a word about the conductive education, not even on where they obtained their understanding.

We must assume that everybody involved worked very hard and with the best intentions in the world. Perhaps they all enjoyed it all immensely and maybe gained in all sorts of ways (unfortunately not reported). 

The result here, however, is another supposedly scientific documentation to show that something or other did not achieve its desired effect – and this something or other, whatever it was, has been graced with the name Conductive Education.


Ludwig, S., Leggett, P., Hartsal, C, (2000) Conductive Education for children with cerebral palsy, Edmonton, Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research

Olama, K. A., Kassem, H. I. (2013) Role of Conductive Education on gait in hemiplegic cerebral palsy, Advances in Bio-Medical Sciences [no volume or issue numbers]

Friday, 21 March 2014


Tomorrow in Belgium
Tomorrow 22 March 2014 there is a Franco-Belgian day in Brussels, a chance to meet for professionals, parents and (if possible) beneficiaries directly involved in Conductive Education.
The theme of the day is: 'Quality of Life and Conductive Education.'
What are do people mean when they speak of the quality of life in relation to their perception of disability and experience of Conductive Education?
A theoretical introduction will give us a common framework of thinking. Then there will be testimonies from parents, beneficiaries and professionals, and we will try to articulate at a round table using the conceptual framework proposed.
The quality of life issue is very subjective and relative! But this may be an opportunity to hear experiences and different points of view and to raise questions about the practices Conductive Education...
Formal programme
8:45: Arrive: coffee, pastries
9:30: Theme of the day – Drs Champolion and Leclercq

9:45: CE, a pedagogy in the service of improving the social participation of the child and his family: an anthropological view – Mr Pierre Castelein
10:30: The ICF and Conductive Education (International Classification of Functional Disability) – Mr Yves Bawin
10:45: Break
11:15: Words from parents, from France and Belgium
12:15: Words from beneficiaries
12:45 Lunch
14:00: Words from professionals
3:00: Round Table, Pierre Castelein, Yves Bawin, parents and professionals
Free for parents - 35 Euros for professionals, including food

I would love to go. One hears so rarely (so very rarely indeed) of such mutual study events – and so often of circumstances, wasted opportunities and confusions that could be avoided by opportunities for learning together and from each other.

Maybe of course such events happen all the time... in which case it would be so nice to hear about them.