My 20 Year Journey at NICE

At present I am the lead conductor for Pre-School and Follow-Up Services at NICE. 

I graduated in Hungary as a Conductor-Teacher in 1989 and achieved my SEN Teacher qualification in 1996, also in Hungary.  

I spent 2 years travelling around the world and taking on short term (1-2 months) conductive work projects before I decided to apply for a role at NICE. I was one of the lucky ones who succeeded with the application and in September 2001 I started to work at NICE- Adult Rehabilitation Services.  

The institute was very welcoming and supportive, for instance they helped me find suitable accommodation and to sort out all the paperwork I needed to work in the UK.   

The department was buzzing. It was the largest adult service in the field of conductive education, so I had an excellent opportunity to extend my knowledge about stroke, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and adult cerebral palsy.  

I also took part in outreach services. Together with one of my colleagues and conductor students, I delivered weekly sessions in Cheltenham until 2007. The journey to Cheltenham was long but the lovely people, the friendly atmosphere of our groups and the positive outcomes of our sessions gave me energy and the determination to keep going back for many years.   

I also had the chance to accompany the conductor who was in charge running a project at the Coventry College. It was very fulfilling to see how conductive education could be adapted to this situation.  

The team in the adults Department were always looking for new opportunities to expand the services and to support as many people as possible. This is how we started to offer sessions to students with dyspraxia. This was the first time in my profession that I worked with people with this condition, but very soon it was clear to me that our conductive approach was extremely beneficial for them too. Based on the experience we gathered, we started a new outreach project at Meadow Green Primary School for children with motor-coordination issues, that I delivered for many years, until the Covid-19 outbreak.  

From September 2007 I changed departments and started to work with the very little ones and with their parents/carers. I adapted to the completely different scenario almost instantly.  Seeing children flourishing under the right support at the right time is extremely rewarding and energising. Knowing that I am participating in building a strong foundation for their happy and successful future is hugely up-lifting.  

Throughout many years I finally managed to complete my MA in Education in 2012. 

From 2012 to 2014, I worked part-time at Great Barr Primary School and had the opportunity to gain an excellent insight of the advantages and the challenges of a Resource-based school regarding the education of children with physical disabilities.  

I have been a practice tutor for the BA Hons course for many years and have enjoyed passing on my knowledge and experience to our future conductors as well as supporting and mentoring younger colleagues.  

My current role also enables me to be involved in wider projects including those across Europe looking at early intervention for young children. I also work closely with other professionals and support our families with their journey to gain the best educational route for their children via the Education Health Care Plans and have represented NICE in many different professional situations over the years. I am involved in the wider activities of the charity and help support fundraising where I can. This all helps to ensure that the pre-school service remains free for families.  

Then, in 2020, came the pandemic, giving me a greater challenge than anything else I had experienced before. I had to amend our services quickly to ensure that our children maintained continuous progress. I am very proud of my team’s outstanding achievements. We were delighted to hear that our children and their families highly appreciated the support that we provided regularly. In many cases this was the only support that the family have received. My team and I have learnt a lot from the situation, and this knowledge and experience will stay with us forever.  

Although we are still running occasional virtual sessions, I strongly believe that the success of the conductive approach is originated from the combination of the holistic knowledge and the hard physical work of the children, their parents/carers and the conductors.

Erika Sisak
Lead conductor for Pre-School and Follow-Up Services at NICE