Andrew Sutton left a Comment on my recent blog posting "Some SEN Statementing questions answered by Special Needs Jungle" in the form of a link to a posting on his own blog where, after leading in with a clip from Tania Tirraoro in the SNJ posting, Andrew ponders the coming "tsunami" of change, how real the change might be, what it might mean for conductive education in the UK and our readiness for it.
For everyone in conductive education, Andrew writes (correctly in my view), "There will be nowhere to hide. Conductive Education stands close to the edge, on a low shoreline, and there are no hills to climb."
Andrew concludes: "One is promised fundamental change. In 2013-14 new factors in favour of this include ever-tightening centralisation and micro-management of the system, and ever-increasing financial straights. Two or three years should be enough to tell how things are turning out for everyone – and specifically whether this will prove a liberation for English CE, or the final straw."
Last week, I spent a short time with Alan Robinson CEO of the Doncaster Deaf Trust which, like Paces Sheffield, runs a non-mainatined special school. I was interested to hear him express an opinion with which I strongly agreed: that in the coming changes, (I summarise what Alan said) there were opportunities to be grasped. At the risk of being accused of "clutching at straws", I offer the following 3 straws of opportunity.
Let us first remind ourselves that there are now 3 independent or non-maintained special schools practising conductive education rated as "Outstanding" by Ofsted and a fourth, a local authority school, Horton Lodge in Staffordshire, that currently rated "Good" was previously "Outstanding" and can be so again.
1. Training of conductors. For quite a while, NICE has flown the flag of conductor training in the UK. But although an undergraduate course, it is not an initial teacher training course (ITT). As the momentum, largely unoticed, gathers pace, of ITT passing to schools rather than university departments, so there is opportunity to take the initial training of conductors to a new level for a new generation. Dare we?
2. Assessment. The provision in the new legislation for individual Education, Health and Care assessments & plans for children aged 0-25 will require assessors. Who better than conductors to participate in the assessment?
3. Academy special schools. An increasing majority of secondary schools in the UK are becoming academies, with the number of primary academies seemingly rising too. Increasingly, too, academy chains or looser consortia of local academies are replacing local authorities. As so often, those who work for children with autism are leading the way. Why not a conductive education chain or consortium of academy schools, reaching out to the pre-school CE centres and expanding our CE services from 16/19 to 25 year olds?
Dare we? I double-dare us all!