Wednesday, 16 March 2011

That was a week, that was

One week on from the Green Paper

Earthquake, tsunami, fires and floods, nuclear meltdown, uncounted thousands dead, as many homeless and without sustenance, world economic dismay...

It has been a week since the Green Paper on 'special educational needs' was published. This for some reason is called Support and Aspiration (which sounds like a leaflet on a couple of first-aid procedures), and nobody has come forth, as far as I know, to account for a title that sounds no more that a bit of PR puff about a commodity that nobody can be bothered to understand.

It has been a week in which domestic news on social welfare and education could sink without a trace. Then next week we have the Budget. And of course, there will be Colonel Gaddafi, and the Royal Wedding and other claims on public attention as yet undreamed of. There was just time for the media to have a one-day wonder and now the national debate has vanished underground while the world gets on with more interesting things.

As for Conductive World, on that first day it received more visitors in a single day that ever before, and then they tailed right off. I suppose that I encouraged this by doing what I had promised, backing out to watch what might be happening, as far as anything would be visible from above the surface of the dark political pool.

Using my own 'took kit'

Like others I have tried a first to read-through of the Green Paper and struggled to find form in the void. At first reading, I see not light but rather darkness visible. It will take me some time to get beyond this, so I shall try out here the 'tool kit' that I offered to others, shortly before the green paper was published:

CE people will be looking out for mention of Conductive Education. Maybe it will be mentioned, maybe not. If it is mentioned, will what is said make you shout 'Hoorah', or sink into despair?

There is no mention of Conductive Education in the Green Paper. You might be disappointed with that, or you might wonder what mention could have been and breath a sigh of relief. Either way, at this stage of the long process of legislative and adminstrative change, in England Conductive Education, officially, just does not exist.

What is currently called 'physical disability' will surely get a mention. Again, what is said may make you shout 'Hoorah', or sink into despair.

The word 'physical' occurs 17 times in the Green Paper's 128 pages. There are a couple of 'physical prompts', an 'appropriate physical contact', and a 'physical requirements'. In all the rest, physical appears to be combined with other needs and impairments. There was nothing about 'motor' or 'movement', these also not appaprently existing at the present stage of the game.

'Inclusion' is a guaranteed topic – 'Hoorah', or despair, or somewhere in between?

Only nine mentions. It looks like its unquestioned place in the sun has certainly gone

Money, money, money – and best value (evidence-based practice?)

'Money' gets eleven mentions; 'funding' 125 (and six more for 'funds'). 'Cost' gets 46; 'price', six more. 'Value' has twenty, including three that were 'better' but only one that was 'best'.' Evidence' was mentioned 28 times, being often 'clear' or compelling', and twice including 'evidence-based practice'.

Allocation of what money there is – or to use the old financial term 'assessment'. (And what will happen to educational psychologists?)

Aah, le vice Anglais: 'assessment' gets 191 mentions. And there are 27 mentions of 'psychologists', now apparently emerging as a problem in their own right – what to do about them?.

Transition to adulthood (and those non-existant adult services)

In all, 62 mentions. This penny seems to have dropped. The next question then must be about life-long services (especially when there are no longer parents to shoulder the burden)

Training (for whom, in what, by whom?)

'Training' is mentioned 96 times, though many of these are in relation to children and young people. What about the workers? Time was when such a report would have had a whole chapter elaborating on this. The Green Paper is far from specific about what: 'key workers', 'to identify children's needs', 'to underpin integrated working' etc. And by whom...?


This is something else that might once have merite a chapter of its own., Here it gets 64 mentions, but much of this occurs in the titles of institutions, or refers to research already dne. Paragraph .62 therefore looks unusually promising – but under all the jargon, what does it actually say?

In our brave new Big Society, lots about the voluntary sector (charities)

The 'voluntary and community sector' gets 57 mentions; charities three. I am sure that this says something, but I cannot tell what.

And of course parents, with bold talk about 'choice' and 'partnership' – and lots of 'support'.

'Parents' win 359 mentions; 'families' a further 270. 'Choice' has 70 mentions; partnership, 31. And here's the money shot: 'support' is mentioned 658 times. ('Pedagogy'of course does not occur once).

More qualified responses

This was of course just a crudely quantified first look. What views has English CE as a whole advanced over this first week.

None yet as far as I can tell – though it is early days and there is plenty of time to formulate these. The Rainbow Centre hosted an already-organised meeting of conductors and others with a CE interest last weekend, on the subject of 'developments in practice', at which the Green Paper was presumably a hot topic:

Perhaps views emerging there, on the possibly biggest influence on English CE practice since inclusion, will be shared more widely. In the meantime, try pasting the following line into a Google search:

“conductive education” “green paper” “2011”

Fascinating... No doubt this picture will evolve over the months of consultation.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

In passing .... Not a response to your post as such, Andrew. But a somewhat odd "sighting" of conductive education in a Comment on Ian Birrell's article on the Green paper by "EuropeanOnion" timed at 10.43am on 11 March (so you can find it more easily)

Thursday, 17 March 2011 at 05:51:00 GMT  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Thank you for spotting this, even if only to see than Ian and his family have achieved a degree of satisfation at long last. But, if this takes a national journalist of his status takes so long, how about hoi polloi? Let's hope thta his settlement lasts.

And thank you for passing on that Comment to his article: a great bit of cyber-spotting. It opened with some reamarkable words:

' Disabled children in Britain are fortunate to have such an empathetic network of care, such dedicated staff, the pioneering work of Conductive Education, the exemplary Inclusion Program. Society moves heaven and earth to enable these people...'

What planet do some people live on? Mind you, judging from some of the other Comments to Ian's article, it must be a pretty crowded place.


Thursday, 17 March 2011 at 14:33:00 GMT  

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