The 4 Ingredients:
- Family-centred education
- Free schools.
I have long puzzled about how conductive upbringing, which is necessarily child-and-family centred 365 days a year, might creatively be integrated with conductive schooling with its institutional structures and limitations – whilst having some hope at least of a sustainable business model. Three fortuitous bits of reading and a current obsession - the 4 ingredients - can perhaps be shaken or stirred together to make something wholly new. Crazy? No problem. Have a read and see what you think.
Ingredient 1: Cyber CE
Thanks to Andrew Sutton on Facebook, I was alerted to “Cyber Experiment in Conductive Education” an online paper by László Szögeczki.
The paper reported an experiment in "response to an issue often raised by outsiders, interested clients and other professionals as to whether distance Conductive Education could be executed". In summary, "an international 'pilot' was successfully undertaken between a USA based conductor in New York and disabled children, professionals and assistants at a CE centre near Chorley, Lancashire in the UK".
László and his colleagues are not alone. Susie Mallett has for some time been advertising distance CE services on her blog. Earlier this year, prompted by reading that there are 35 Virtual Charter Schools, I myself mused whether a Virtual Conductive Education School might be possible. Ben Foulger, for one, expressed some interest. But there it rested.
Ingredient 2: Flexischooling
Follow me somewhere else, quite different: have you ever heard of Flexischooling? No? Neither had I until I was introduced to “Ed Yourself”, the website of Fiona Nicholson’s Home Education Consultancy, which covers “key areas of elective home education practice and policy in England”. You’ll find Flexischooling, fascinatingly enough, under the “Special Needs” tab.
“In a flexi-schooling arrangement children are registered as pupils at the school and attend part-time, but spend other parts of the week being educated off-site by their parents. This arrangement is a matter for the head teacher, rather than the local authority, to negotiate with parents. The child will be required to follow the National Curriculum whilst at school but not whilst he or she is being educated at home.
The school register can be marked Code B for approved educational activity which must be of an educational nature and must be supervised by a person authorised by the proprietor or head teacher. More information on flexischool can be found in the Government Guidance on Pupil Registration Regulations page 22 and in the Government's Home Education Guidelines
Ingredient 3: Family-scale education
Now just one more step: like many people, I have reservations about ‘faith schools’, so when I ask you to take a look at the website of the proposed Sheffield Christian Free School it is not their “distinctively biblical approach to knowledge and learning” that attracted my attention. Firstly, it was the following statement, a “Core Value”:
“We have been developing family-scale education for almost 25 years. We found that as families join together and pool their enthusiasm, expertise and ideas they can produce a stimulating and versatile curriculum for their children. For this model to be effective the numbers of families needs to be limited. Every family needs to be involved and feel that their contribution is valued. The school needs to actively seek participation from parents and equip them as they take responsibility for their children’s education.”
The second feature that drew my attention was how the school was to be organised – on multipe small sites, responding to parental demand:
“The Sheffield Christian Free School will have all the advantages of being a large institution but, with each site having less than 100 pupils from between 40 – 50 families, it will be able to offer the highest standards of pastoral care and academic support.”
Ingredient 4: Free Schools
The fourth ingredient is the potential funding that setting up a Special Free School brings for innovation in pedagogy, curriculum and parent choice, about which I shall say no more here.
Now for a trial bake.
The result may not be immediately palatable perhaps but we can adjust the ingredients later. How does this appeal to you:
A school, a Special Free School; made up of 5, 10, 20 sites dispersed around a city, a region, or the whole of the UK, maybe; for groups of, say, 20, 30, 50 families and children; attending all year round, part-time on a flexischool basis; and part-time at home with CE delivered at a distance by a conductor based elsewhere. The whole dish funded by the DfE as a Virtual Free School.
Well? Or rather, "Why not?"
Me? I'm just a bit busy right now. But after that?