The social organisation of knowledge in a Conductive Education Centre in Birmingham

Exploring the interprofessional working practices in a Conductive Education Centre in Birmingham with children and families.

Conductive ed 1


Research background

Conductive Education (CE) is a means of ‘bringing together’ and involves a unified, integrated approach to educating children with disabilities to maximise the effects of teaching and learning. Conductive pedagogues (‘conductors’) are educators trained and socialised to work according to this holistic philosophy.  However, CE is an approach that is not widely known about or understood in the UK and has historically been marginalised by both health and education disciplines (Smith, 2016).

Research aims

This study aims to explore the interprofessional working practices in a Conductive Education Centre in Birmingham with children and families, and the way in which they are coordinated through texts and discourses of various sorts in the daily professional lives of Conductors.  The study draws on Institutional Ethnography (IE) as a way to think otherwise about methodology and research creatively across disciplines.

How is the research being carried out?

IE is method that is used for inquiry and discovery about the way in which things are put together and how they work in order to establish the actualities of people’s everyday lives (Smith, 2006). It offers a theorised approach to reflecting critically on what one knows from that embodied place in the world (Campbell and Gregor, 2008). The focus is not upon the subjective experiences of individuals, but on the way in which organisational processes and structures, texts such as policies and contracts, job descriptions and curricula serve to organise the social relationships within the organisation, privileging some knowledge whilst at the same time diminishing or undermining others.




The study will highlight the ‘relations of ruling’ that shape local experiences.  The empirical linkages in the everyday life, organisation and translocal processes of administration and Governance within the centre will emerge.  These linkages will reveal the complex field of co-ordination and control that influence Conductors’ working lives.

The findings of the study suggest that Conductors demonstrate resilience in their work with other disciplines to foreground children’s strengths and competencies, challenging orthodoxies of (dis)ability and deficit. The paper will highlight connections between curriculum development and professional learning with children and families.


Campbell, M and Gregor, F. (2008) Mapping social relations: A Primer in Doing Institutional Ethnography Toronto: Higher Education University of Toronto Press Inc.

Smith, A. (2016) Conductive Education: The Unfinished Story Special World April 2006

Smith, E. (2006) Institutional Ethnography as Practice Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers