About conductive education
Conductive education is a learning system designed to enable disabled children and adults to achieve greater independence. It was developed in Hungary, but British therapists and teachers have used elements of the system for over 20 years and now there are a growing number of British qualified conductor/teachers.
This page explains what conductive education is, how it is used and its practice in Britain. Find your nearest School for Parents.
What is conductive education?
Conductive education is a holistic integrated education system, which enables people with damage to the central nervous system to learn to overcome the challenges they face.
Conductive education is a process of experiences which leads the person to work with their motor impairments, moving towards increased independence. It is a system which is primarily suitable for people with neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, acquired head injury and dyspraxia.
Neurological conditions create a wide range of developmental challenges which can involve areas of gross and fine movement, perception, cognition, social skills, emotional development, speech, language and communication. These in turn can significantly affect motivation, confidence and personality. Ultimately it is the whole personality that is impacted by the condition.
Andras Peto, the founder of conductive education, viewed people with neurological conditions as a whole; focusing not only on the body but also the personality. Conductive education perceives people with neurological conditions as facing a challenge of learning rather than needing treatment for a medical condition. Peto argued to ensure learning people with neurological conditions should be “taught” rather than “treated”. Through a structured teaching environment, led by the conductor, the brain can access residual capacity (neuroplasticity) and learning can be promoted.
What is the aim?
Much of the conductive education literature speaks of the goal of “orthofunction”. In simple terms, this means helping people achieve their potential by nurturing and developing an attitude to learning which is based on simultaneous development of movement, function and personality. The desire to achieve, to be successful and to reach new goals is paramount in the process.
Conductive education enables people to view themselves in a positive way through meaningful activity. It assists them in problem solving, and learning strategies and techniques to approach the various challenges faced.
Who can benefit?
Conductive education was developed primarily to teach people with neurological motor disorders. Although the primary problem may be physically based all of these conditions also impact on all areas of human development, including cognition, social skills, emotional development, perceptual abilities and speech and language. These conditions therefore can not be seen as isolated physical disabilities.
Conditions commonly deemed appropriate for conductive education are cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke and head injuries. More recently children with developmental delay disorders and dyspraxia have benefited from conductive education.
How is it delivered?
Conductive education is delivered by a conductor. However, there are now examples in the UK where conductors are working together with other professionals, who have been given appropriate training, and may deliver components of the programme. There are centres in the UK that work in conductor only teams and there are also centres where conductors work with other professionals in a multi-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary or trans-disciplinary way.
The approach for children is usually delivered within a full time school setting. As children progress from this type of setting they may access conductive education on a part-time basis or through episodic sessions. Some centres also provide intensive programmes for children, often delivered during school holidays, and these may run for one, two or four weeks.
Conductive education for pre-school children is delivered in parent and child groups, where the parent is pivotal to the learning structure and environment. Many conductive education settings will have a parent and child group that precedes the nursery provision; there are also stand alone Schools for Parents located across the UK.
For adults, sessional services are available. These will either consist of weekly sessions of between one and two hours or intensive courses which usually run for one to two weeks at a time. The frequency and duration will depend on what is deemed appropriate for the individual.
Most conductive education centres work with outside agencies and provide outreach services in schools or other settings. In addition, home visits and additional support for parents, families or carers are often provided.
What are the fundamental features?
This is the name given to people who have qualified in Conductive education. A conductor is a professional who is a graduate of a certified Conductor training programme. Conductors working in the UK have graduated from either the Peto Institute in Budapest, Hungary; the University of Wolverhampton, in conjunction with the National Institute of Conductive Education, Birmingham; or the University of Keele (this course, however, is no longer running).
The conductor is a motivator, and is trained to always build on the abilities of the person rather than focus on the disability caused by the condition: what individuals can achieve rather than what they cannot. A conductor is trained to have high, but realistic, expectations relating to human potential. The conductor teaches and guides the whole group, holding attention and enabling the individual to work to their potential whilst constantly observing performance and modifying the programme accordingly.
Conductors are not an amalgamation of current professionals in education, therapy and rehabilitation. They are new, distinct professionals, whose training, experience and methods of working are unique to conductive education.
An important feature of conductive education is the value of the group setting. The group in conductive education is created not constructed. The class environment provides a variety of benefits to participants: social interaction, group dynamics, motivation, healthy competition, comparators, support and learning from others in similar situations. Working with others deflects the total focus of attention from the individual, whilst still meeting individual needs.
Conductors are skilled in creating groups in such a way as to ensure all participants benefit from experience and learning opportunities are maximised.
The programme/daily routine
The programme/daily routine is a timetable of activities which reflect an integrated system of learning. It is carefully planned and highly structured with a focus on meeting goals in an interrelated manner. The programme is complex in the way it is designed, but simple for the individual to understand. This allows the learning within the programme to be integrated into every part of an individual’s day. It provides the individual with a learning environment rich with relevance, fun, and opportunities to practice and clear pathways to achievement. The daily routine will depend on the age and the specific requirements of the individual. Daily living skills (such as toileting, washing, dressing, eating) will be incorporated and for school aged children, an academic curriculum will be followed. For adult participants it may include working, hobbies or family duties; for teenagers it may include dancing and accessing a social life.
Where is it available?
Some Scope schools use the principles and practice of Conductive Education.
There are many other schools and centres across the UK and these are listed on the Scope website.
This document has been revised in line with the new “What is Conductive Education” booklet written by the PCA (Professional Conductor’s Association, UK) 2009.
What is Conductive Education booklet by CEPEG (Conductive Education Professional Education Group) and PCA (Professional Conductors Association, UK) (2009) available from:
CEPEG at the National Institute of Conductive Education, a national charity that set up the Birmingham Institute.
National Institute of Conductive Education
Cannon Hill House
Tel: 0121 449 1569
Fax: 0121 4491611
For more information about services available in the International Section of the Peto Institute contact:
The International Section
Peto Andras Intezet
Kutvolgyi ut 6
For more information on Scope
Contact Scope Response for information, advice and support on cerebral palsy and disability issues.
This information was last reviewed May 2010
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