Monday, 10 December 2012


So, what was it?

Jacintha Collins is a Labour Senator in Victoria, Australia. She writes in Melbourne's Herald Sun

We all agree our children deserve a top-quality education, and we also know those with disabilities need extra help. So do their teachers, who do such an amazing job.

With 89 per cent of students with disabilities aged 5-14 years attending mainstream schools, the vast majority of Australian teachers have students with disabilities in their classrooms. Many of these teachers report that if they had additional help, such as training and extra resources, they would be able to teach students with disabilities more effectively.

The Government's program is providing $200 million through 2012-13 so schools can access the specific support they need, whether it be professional development for teachers, employing allied health professionals or purchasing specialist equipment for children.

Ms Collins reports a letter from an unnamed school principle, describing a couple of examples of in-school intervention –

... she was inspired to write because 'today we have had a couple of very meaningful experiences with students who we have been pretty pessimistic about and they have come as a result of the MSSD support. I am so excited I felt you should know'.

Another story she shared was about a profoundly disabled boy who had taken his first steps towards walking. The principal enclosed a photo of the boy enjoying a jumping castle for the first time, due to his increased muscle strength and awareness. That development was due to the school being able to employ a conductive educator to train its teacher aides in methods for working with the boy.

Success stories like these happen every day in our schools, right across the country. They are celebrated by principals, teachers and parents, whose devotion to these children with disabilities is absolute.

It is thanks to this principal writing a letter that we know, and celebrate, their amazing progress.

Today is International Day of People with Disability. As the principal writes: "I know that programs are evaluated statistically in terms of numbers of students helped to achieve levelled gains. Sometimes its important to know the stories of children whose lives are changed by the funding.'

She is right.

Nice to see how the value of a conductor's intervention goes so unquestioned, so taken for granted by the political chief of an education service. No evidence is required here for doing whatever was done here via the aides. Politicians are well used to depending upon the evidence of their eyes and their own judgement (helped along no doubt by other vital factors such as political and personal advantage). She is after all Victoria's Parliamentary Secretary for School Administration, responsible for implementation of her state's MMSD – the More Support for Students with Disabilities program.

Be that as it may, what actually happened there, by what means, with whom, and to what outcomes? It is great to have third-party validation from an outside cource, and it is good for CE that it should pop up in the public domain in the way that it has. But when is CE going to report such matters for itself, as a matter of course, applying its own hand to the task of rounding out and developing the public image of conductive practice? In 2012 CE should be contributing a mountain of raw data to what  should be  well on the way by now to creating a critical mass from which to forge a whole new conductive-pedagogic literature  fit for the 21st century?

And in Victoria, somebody, step forward, take a bow, and tell us what was done.


Collins, J. (2012) Disability funding can cause miracles and change lives, Herald-Sun, 3 December


This is not the first time that Jacinta Collins has appeared in these pages:

And not the first time that CE has drifted across her bow:,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&fp=1fd4934ac285fa78&bpcl=39650382&biw=888&bih=492

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