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Foundation for Conductive Education

Code für den Einrichtungstyp: ASS.1
Ort: Birmingham
Ländercode: UK
Nach- und Vorname der Kontaktperson: Sutton, Andrew
Titel und Stellung in der Einrichtung: Direktor
Telefon (einschließlich Landes- und Ortskennzahl): (+44) 12 14 49 15 69
Fax (einschließlich Landes- und Ortskennzahl): (+44) 12 14 49 16 11
E-mail: as@nice.ac.uk
Homepage: www.conductive-education.org.uk

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Foundation for Conductive Education


The Foundation for Conductive Education

The Foundation for Conductive Education is a national charity (non-profit organisation) created in 1986.  Its founding document defines training as a central goal of the organisation.

“The development and advancement of the science and skill in the United Kingdom of Conductive Education as has been developed at the Pető Institute in Hungary and especially the teaching thereof”

The first stage of the strategy adopted by the Foundation to achieve its charitable object was to work closely with the Petõ Institute to have British people trained as conductors in Budapest and, at the same time, bring Hungarian conductors to establish conductive practice in Birmingham, England.  The first practice was with young children with cerebral palsy but, from the outset, it was intended that CE in the UK would be developed for both adults and children.  At the completion of this first stage, in 1993, the Foundation’s Birmingham Institute provided conductive services for children across the early years, and groups for adults, staffed by trained British and Hungarian conductors, the beginnings of a National Library of Conductive Education, and the intention to establish an indigenous programme to train professional conductors to meet national requirements.

In 1995 the Foundation opened the first phase of the National Institute of Conductive Education (NICE) to create an integrated practice base for the further development of the system of CE, for training and research.  Early in 1997 the Foundation tested out programmes of skills training, accredited by the Open College Network (sub-degree level) and, in October 1997 the first students were admitted to the new three-year professional training course provided in partnership with the University of Wolverhampton.

The first conductors trained wholly in the UK graduated in 2000.  In 2001 the Foundation validated its first postgraduate module.

Training strategy

Central to the Foundation’s training strategy is the intention that conductors should be trained and recognised as a profession in their own right, with the practice and theory of conductive pedagogy lying at the heart of their professionalism and their training.  Conductive Education therefore is not an offshoot of existing professions but a provision and a discipline in its own right.

At the same time the Foundation recognises emerging requirements for a range of other training experiences around the central core of conductor-training.  This includes accredited training for assistants, insight into the conductive approach for teachers, therapists and other professionals, and the possibility of ‘conversion training’ for existing professionals who wish to become conductors.

The Foundation has introduced the concept of Qualified Conductor Status (QCS), to indicate the necessary threshold of competencies and understandings for a professional conductor.  The Foundation recognises an Honours Degree on the NICE/Wolverhampton course as conferring QCS.  Its recent validation of a module at postgraduate (Level 4/Masterate) level is the first step towards consideration of the possibilities of creating training experiences whereby professionals working in other fields might acquire QCS.

In the longer term the Foundation looks forward to the creation of a recognised, autonomous professional body for conductors in the United Kingdom.

The emerging field of Conductive Education cannot rely upon conductors alone, however well trained.  Many conductors now work with assistants and other professionals, who require relevant practical training and theoretical underpinnings, and there is a great need for the wider dissemination of skills and insights from Conductive Education to those who work in other settings.  The Foundation has begun to address this challenge though its sub-degree ‘skills training’ courses (Open College Network) and will now examine how this might also be achieved at university levels (levels 1-4, undergraduate though to postgraduate).

BA in Conductive Education

The degree of BA in Conductive Education was created out of a partnership between the Foundation and the University of Wolverhampton.  The course is three years in duration, with two semesters per year, and is a first-degree higher-education qualification within the UK’s university system.  As such it follows the standard regulations for admission, standards and inspection under the Government’s Quality Assurance Agency.  Last year the School of Educational Studies at the University of Wolverhampton, of which this course is an integral part, achieved a rating of ‘Excellent’ in the Agency’s inspection.

Commensurate with the Foundation’s goals to create a new discipline and a new profession of conductor in the United Kingdom, the BA in Conductive Education is not a teacher-training qualification for work in the state education system.  The Foundation took the principled decision that the political control and whim governing state education (particularly in England and Wales), and especially the present official emphases upon curricular instruction in the state’s schools, to the exclusion of almost any other consideration, meant that close proximity to teacher-education would be a dangerous position for the fledgling profession.  QCS does not therefore qualify its holders to work as teachers in state schools.

QCS indicates that its holders can conduct.  The training encompasses conductive work with motor disorders of any kind, congenital and acquired, across the life span, provided in a variety of settings.  The practice and theory of conductive pedagogy are central to the course, students spending time in conductive practice each week of each semester for the whole three years.  Practice is within the school and sessional services of NICE or in other settings where NICE conductors work, always under the conductors’ direct supervision.

Motor disorders that the students work with over the three years include cerebral palsy (in children and adults), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, head injuries and strokes.  Practice settings at NICE include groups for parent and child (under three years) and early years and school (three to eleven years).  Sessional services reflect both the ‘traditional’ Hungarian ambuláncia and the rapidly diversifying world of conductive provision.  Sessions for adults therefore also include short block placements, ‘courses for carers’ and visiting sessions at Hereward College, and there are weekly sessions for children with dyspraxia.

Students’ practical work is closely monitored throughout the course by group leaders and conductor tutors, with regular feedback on performance.  Students’ individual practice over the three years is recorded and assessed through the Conductive Log, a detailed document for formative assessment compiled by each student, group leaders and conductor tutors. There is an oral component to assessment throughout the course as the Foundation considers the ability to articulate Conductive Education an essential component of future conductors’ professionalism.  There are also continuous assessments through written assignments and examinations.

Conductive practice is centred in the six Conductive Pedagogy modules which lie at the heart of the course.  Each of these modules comprise an integrated mix of conductive practice, and lectures and tutorials on key underpinning theoretical issues.  Psychology and neuropsychology, for example, are taught as an integral part of these modules.  Because of the Foundation’s independence from the state system, especial attention is given to developing a professional orientation that takes a particular position towards the concerns and experiences of service-users and their families.

Lectures provided by conductor tutors and other staff at NICE include the development, assessment and pathology of human movement, the history and philosophy of Conductive Education and professional matters.  In addition, the course draws upon existing modules from the Schools of Education and Health Science at the University of Wolverhampton where students also access required optional modules to broaden their education.  Additional specialist input is provided by visiting lecturers.  Students also study research methods and undertake a two-module dissertation in their third year.

Admission for this course is, firstly, by meeting the University’s standard academic entry requirements, upon which candidates have a day’s orientation at NICE followed by interview.  Special arrangements can be made for candidates from overseas.  The course has already established a tradition of accepting overseas students.  Most students commence the course immediately upon completing school education but mature students are also welcome and eligible for accreditation of prior experience and learning.  Most student conductors to date have been women and the Foundation is seeking to redress this imbalance.

Each year in the University’s summer vacation, numbers of student conductors from NICE choose to spend time working in settings where they can expand their experience of motor disorders in children or adults.  Often this is in conductive summer schools or summer camps, both in the UK and overseas.  The Foundation welcomes such personal initiatives and has published guidelines on how this should be best arranged.

At the conclusion of the course successful students are awarded the BA in Conductive Education by the University of Wolverhampton, graded according to the usual British academic ‘classes’.  At a further, separate ceremony, the Foundation confers Qualified Conductor Status, with gradings of Pass, Merit and Excellent awarded on the basis of students’ practical skills as conductors.  The Brian Fraser Prize for Conductive Pedagogy is awarded annually for the best conductive practice.

Continuing development

At the time of writing (Summer 2001) the NICE/Wolverhampton course has been running for four years, two tranches of students have successfully completed their studies and the fifth year of operation is being recruited.  Course validation in UK universities runs for five years, so preparations are now under way for revalidation of the course during the academic year 2001-2.

Revalidation provides opportunity for major review in the light of expansion and of developments in Conductive Education and its context.  There is also continuing change in the structure of higher education.  Preliminary work suggests that, beginning in 2002-3, the NICE/Wolverhampton conductor-training course will enjoy larger, ‘double’ modules, permitting yet closer integration of practical and theoretical learning, further broadening of practical experience and the availability of selected modules to those outside the conductor-training course.

The Foundation and the University have taken a full part in discussions between UK universities and other interested parties through the Conductive Education Higher Education Group (CEHEG).  It is also participating in the EU-Project on conductor-training.  The experiences and aspirations of other members of these groups contribute to thinking on the future development of training for QCS.  Particularly, the Foundation will be building upon the first masterate-level module now validated to look at possibilities for post-graduate or post-experience training for practitioners in other fields wishing to acquire QCS.  In undertaking this task the Foundation will take due account of models developed elsewhere, and issues arising from these, as well as the potentials for professional training through emerging electronic technologies (TV and the Internet).  It has also to take account of changing emphases within higher education in the UK, dependent upon which, exploration will be made of whether such further training for QCS can be provided through the university system (as a masterate, for example) or would be better served in the form of a ‘private’ qualification.

Whatever the outcome of this particular issue, Conductive Education now constitutes a significant area of academic study, as the extensive collection accumulated and categorised by the Foundation at its National Library eloquently testifies.  Establishing a first-degree course for conductors begins the process of forging the growing knowledge-base of Conductive Education into an academic discipline with its own distinctive boundaries and professional base.

For this, teaching has to link with research and the next stage of the Foundation’s strategy for training will be to meet the challenge of creating the means and the climate to achieve this.

Training conductors in the United Kingdom

Initial phase

In 1986 a national charity was created in the United Kingdom, ‘…for the development and advancement of the science and skill of Conductive Education…and especially the teaching thereof ‘.

The Foundation began its task by arranging for British students to be trained as conductors at the Peto Institute in Budapest. It was a firm requirement that these students should all be qualified teachers.

The Foundation sent three cohorts of students to the Peto Institute. In the meantime it established the Birmingham Institute of Conductive Education as a base for demonstration, conductor-training and research and, mindful of the long-term academic requirements of conductor-training, in 1991 initiated the National Institute of Conductive Education. By the time all its students had qualified, in 1993, the Foundation’s Birmingham Institute had developed to include children’s groups, at parent and child, nursery and primary age and had commenced conductive services for adults, again in preparation for the long-term requirement for indigenous training independent of the Peto Institute, which had proved prohibitively expensive and not entirely relevant in every respect to the training requirements of the United Kingdom.

The National Institute

The nineties in the United Kingdom were marked by Recession and the beginnings of major official review (some would say retrenchment) in the field of special education. Notwithstanding in 1995 the Foundation closed the Birmingham Institute and opened the first phase of its National Institute of Conductive Education (NICE) at Cannon Hill in Birmingham, to promote on a single site a comprehensive Conductive Education system in microcosm and indigenous professional training.

Conductor-training commenced at NICE in 1997, in partnership with Wolverhampton University. So far four tranches of students have been admitted, with the fifth to commence in September 2001. The five-year revalidation will take place in 2002, with the process of reviewing possible changes in the light of experience and new opportunities now under way. Course structure at Wolverhampton University is modular and NICE teaches more than half the modules, with other modules drawn as appropriate from Educational Studies and Health Sciences. Central to the course are Conductive Pedagogy modules, which incorporate closely supervised practice into every week of the students’ training, with continuous assessment of defined conductive competencies, and provide a means to unite the traditional craft of the conductor with the requirements of contemporary academic education. All students’ practice is undertaken at NICE or with NICE conductors providing outreach services in other institutions. The course is funded largely through the normal means of undergraduate education, with a small subsidy from the Foundation. Graduates are awarded a BA (Conductive Education) which the Foundation recognises as conferring Qualified Conductor Status (QCS). The first graduates, who are designated ‘conductors’, completed their studies in Summer 2000.

Other UK developments

It should be noted that the Foundation’s strategy to establish training and a conductive profession was not the only programme being planned to establish training in Conductive Education.

In 1990 the Spastics Society (subsequently Scope) sent a simple tranche of undergraduates to the Peto Institute, the course being run in conjunction with the psychology and education departments of Keele University to produce ‘teacher-conductors’. This too proved prohibitively expensive and in 1996 Scope sponsored a second joint undergraduate course of psychology + teacher training + Conductive Education. Four tranches of students have been recruited. Most of the course is based at Keele University with approximately six months of experience at the Peto Institute. Graduates are again trained teacher-conductors. No further tranches of students have been recruited and no further training of this type is envisaged, prohibitive cost again being cited as an important reason.

In addition to the two degree courses, Foundation/Wolverhampton, Scope/Keele, a further joint programme was created in Scotland, run by the Craighalbert Centre and St Andrew’s College (subsequently the Faculty of Education, University of Glasgow). This was a one-year certificate course in the ‘principles of Conductive Education’ but was without conductor input. It is currently in abeyance.

Three training courses in a single country, involving three charitable organisations, each with its own agenda, three universities each with its particular course structure and producing three distinct qualifications, raised the need for liaison. In 1997 an informal discussion group, the Conductive Education Higher Education Group (CEHEG) began meeting once a term, comprising members of the three charities and three universities involved, later expanded by invitation to include representatives of practitioners in the field. The group’s discussions are minuted on the internet. Two particular issues have crystallised, conductor vs conductor-teacher and formulation of appropriate ‘standards’ for professional training. In the former case, Scope held out strongly that all conductors must primarily be teachers, against a general view that being a conductor was the central issue and that while conductors could also train as teachers, or therapists or whatever, they had a primary need to achieve certain standards, competencies and values as conductors. In respect to the second issue, CEHEG has formulated a document outlining standards for the skills, understandings and professional values to be imparted in initial professional training. The question of standards for practical placements is now open for discussion.

Wider Strategies

The Foundation’s position on close links with the state education system was from the outset that the system (certainly in England and Wales, and to a lesser degree, in Scotland and Northern Ireland) is in a state of instability, flux and excessive political interference at every level, with issues such as inclusion, curriculum and professional education likely to push aside or distant values and aspirations central to Conductive Education. As a result in 1996 the Foundation made a principled decision to develop its professional training with the goal of establishing a new habilitative/rehabilitative profession in the United Kingdom, trained to work with children and adults across the lifespan. It will then be up to the emerging professional group to create its own professional identity and recognition and to generate new ways of working and new institutional structures to implement its contribution to society.

The Foundation’s degree course is part of a wider vision in the future of training in and around Conductive Education in the UK, which includes appropriate training for assistants working with conductors. The Foundation is now examining possibilities for post-graduate training to QCS, as a first step towards which it has recently validated a post-graduate module on the theory and philosophy of Conductive Education. The Foundation will also be examining the potential for distance teaching, particularly the new possibilities opening up through the Internet.

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