March 2020 now seems a distant memory, however since then the Training Team at NICE Conductive College have demonstrated their adaptability and resilience in response to the demands and needs of those we work with. The Training Department works in partnership with Birmingham City University. With support and guidance from them we have created opportunities for students to access both group and individual learning experiences and so ensure their successful completion of the academic year. In keeping with this timescale, we were also able to hold our Annual Student Conference. This is a highlight of our academic calendar during which students have the opportunity to share with each other successes and insights. This year was no exception. 

Students have achieved academic success, however time away from their peers, and from the children and adults they have been working with has been challenging. Whilst we have tried to re-create opportunities to address some of these issues, nothing can replace the positive impact of interpersonal connection and emotional support that comes from face-to-face interaction. We believe that we are doing all that we can to support students, however the reality is that the emotional bonds created via Zoom are different, regardless of the background images!

What this time has given us however is opportunity to evaluate what is important, whilst recognising our ability to be both responsive and resilient. The fact that we have been able to adapt reinforces that if we desire it, learning is continuously possible. For me, this is a key aspect of Conductive Education, and one that continuously inspires me, in this instance to search for opportunities to improve our connectivity. In last month’s Blog, Annie raised the need for connection with participants and their families. This month, the need for connectivity is as much a priority. With the lack of face-to-face contact the Training Team are constantly looking for ways to connect with student conductors, and those undertaking the wide range of training courses we deliver, to ensure that we maintain not only professional, but also personal links over these months. Finding the balance between a focused Zoom session, and a chat over coffee is not always easy, but without the human connection, the human story, what we are aiming for becomes blurred and irrelevant. 

Over these months, I have had the personal fortune to be involved in delivering ongoing links with some of the adult participants we work with at NICE. I have learnt to explore what we do as conductors in new and exciting ways. The opportunity to learn more about the people accessing CE has expanded my understanding of the impact of CE, and of the need to hold the individual at the centre of all that we do. If lockdown has reinforced one thing for me, it is that the need for the personal, and the interpersonal connection is of absolute importance. These challenging times have been transformative.

Dr Theresa Kinnersley
Programme Director