Conductive Education was developed by Professor Andras Peto (1893 – 1967), a Hungarian physician who studied rehabilitation techniques in Vienna, prior to the Second World War.  In 1939 he returned to Budapest and in 1945 requested facilities from the Hungarian Government to work with motor-disordered children.  In 1958 he became a Professor at the Special Education College and in 1960 the National Motor Therapy Institute was opened under his direction.  In 1963 Professor Peto’s work achieved major recognition in Hungary.  The Institute was transferred to the Ministry of Education and Conductor Training was formally recognised and developed into a degree course.  From 1968 all Hungarian physicians were required to register children with motor disorders with the Peto Institute.

On Peto’s death in 1967 his protégé, neurologist Dr Maria Hari, was appointed Director and under her direction the Peto Institute moved to a new and larger building and developed programmes for children with spina bifida and out-patient adult groups.

The four-year Conductor training course was delivered at the Peto Institute giving graduates a teaching qualification to teach in regular schools as well as the Conductor Training qualification.

Andras Peto and Dr Maria Hari were definitely ahead of their time as far as their thinking and methods were concerned.  Dr Hari described Conductive Education as . . . “a creative process which permits the central nervous system to restructure itself”.  This is now known as neuroplasticity, a process which is well researched and accepted internationally.

In the early 1980s a few non-Hungarian children had been accepted at the Institute and in the late 1980s this trickle became a flood.  During the 1989-1990 school year over 600 foreign children, mainly from the United Kingdom, attended the centre.  Other children came from Australia, New Zealand, United States of America, Greece, Cyprus, the Soviet Union, Ireland, and throughout Europe as well as some from the Middle East, Asia and Africa.  During this period several Japanese students completed the four-year Conductor course at the Peto Institute.

Training courses are now available in other parts of the world. The original Conductor training course is now being delivered at the Andras Peto Faculty, Semmelweis University, Budapest. Conductors continue to be in demand internationally.

Since coming to New Zealand the programmes have evolved to reflect New Zealand culture and to align with our education system.

During this time we have learnt that the way Conductive Education teaches can benefit many more conditions than traditional motor disorders. In line with this staff employed by Conductive Education centres are constantly developing their practice in order to meet the ever-changing needs of the communities we support.

This international movement is now well embedded in New Zealand to educate children and adults  with disabilities to achieve their potential.