Conductive Education Therapy

Ursula Toner by Ursula Toner Additional Needs

Ursula Toner

Ursula Toner

Hi, my name is Ursula and I’m a final year Occupational Therapy (OT) Student at University of Ulster, Northern Ireland. I completed a placement wit...

CE consolidates forms of education and rehab in a client centred approach, and helps people with lifelong disabilities improve/maintain their maximum level of independence by improving their physical, cognitive and problem solving abilities by working collaboratively with a multidisciplinary team (Tuersley-Dixon et al, 2010).

The role of the ‘teacher’, known as a Conductor; Analyses, provides feedback, keeps tempo, guides, practices, coordinates, encourages and motivates individuals as they gain mastery of their minds and bodies.

The “conductor’s music” is the particular functions and everyday tasks that a person needs to perform in order to reach their maximum level of independence and control.

This method aims to avoid learned helplessness that may come from doing too much for a child, rather than teaching the child to do things for itself.

Who can be treated?

Conductive education is suitable for children and adults with neurologically based disorders of movement, balance, voluntary and involuntary muscle control, perception, speech and language.

Suitable conditions include; Cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke and Acquired Head Injury

Conductive Education in Northern Ireland


In Northern Ireland, Conductive Education is administered a Buddy Bear Trust School.

This school was set up by the Buddy Bear Trust charity for children who suffer from cerebral palsy and motor disorders. Conductive education at the School has had life changing consequences for some of the children who have been lucky enough to attend.

The School can only help 12 children, each on a part-time basis. This is due to lack of funds and consequently, lack of teachers.

The school is, however recognised by the Educational Authorities in Northern Ireland as a Private Independent School.


The Buddy Bear Trust School is an independent school recognised and inspected by the department of Education.

The Education and Library Boards have paid the fees to enable children to be educated at the school since it opened in 1993.

The Education and Library Boards also pays a travel allowance to parents/guardians if necessary.

Parents pay nothing for the provision of the services of the school.

Whilst all political parties in Northern Ireland have been very supportive over many years, public funding has been very limited.

Referral process

Any parent who wishes to have a child attend the school should first of all contact the school and arrange an appointment to meet the principal Ildiko Veres who will then assess whether the child can be admitted to the school.

Any child of school age will be considered for admission.

Children of pre-school age will have the opportunity of attending the Mother and Child Group.

Parents may indicate a preference for the Buddy Bear School and if the statement names the Buddy Bear School the Education and Library Board must place the child in the school and pay fees and may also pay a contribution towards travelling expenses.

Arranging for a Board to place a child in the school can be quiet a long and complicated procedure so it is recommended that the parents start the process as soon as possible.


Buddy Bear Trust Killyman Road Dungannon BT71 6DE

Tel & Fax: 028 87752025



Strong evidence based research on Conductive education is limited and it has been assessed in only a few controlled studies which have focused mainly on progress in motor skills, and the method has been compared to traditional physiotherapy.

These studies are known to have been unsuccessful to reveal the dominance of conductive education.

There has been no scientific examination of long-term success or cost effectiveness of the therapy as a whole.

A review by Darah et al in 2004 found that the research literature did not provide conclusive evidence either in support of or against conductive education, and that the limited number of studies and their poor quality made failed to provide purely evidence-based decision-making about conductive education.


Darrah, J., Watkins, B., CHEN, L., BONIN, C., 2004. Conductive education intervention for children with cerebral palsy: an AACPDM evidence report. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 46, pp.87–203.

Fossberg, H., Rosbald, B, 2000. Conductive education -an educational program for children with cerebral palsy, Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Health Care.

Sutton., A, 1999. Towards Conductive Education. In ISBN 978-963-85499-2-1

TUERSLEY- DIXON, L., FREDERICKSON, N., 2010. Conductive education: appraising the evidence. Educ Psychol Pract, 26, pp. 353–73.


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