Leading article: Compassionate Conservatism

Related Topics

It is common for political leaders to deliver speeches on topics on which they have no personal experience. But that will not be the case when David Cameron addresses an autism conference today on the subject of special needs. In February, the Conservative leader sadly lost his six-year old son, Ivan, who had suffered from cerebral palsy and severe epilepsy.

When it comes to special needs, Mr Cameron knows whereof he speaks. Armed with knowledge of the bureaucratic jungle faced by parents in similar situations, he is putting forward sensible proposals to improve the lives of children with disabilities, as well as their carers. The expected pledge that a future Conservative government will put an immediate stop to the programme of special school closures is welcome. Undoubtedly, some disabled children benefit from being educated in a mainstream school. But the Government's policy of pushing "inclusion" has made life harder for many disabled children and their carers. Special schools still have a vital place.

The pledge from the Conservative leader to increase the number of family health visitors and the availability of respite care will also be greeted with enthusiasm by the parents of many disabled children. These carers will also share Mr Cameron's frustration with the "statementing" process which defines the nature of a child's special needs. The present system is complex and onerous. It is also often unfair. Local councils, which administer care, have a financial incentive to keep down costs. Too often, they focus on costs rather than needs. The idea the Tory leader will outline of putting budgets for a disabled child's health, education and care in the hands of parents makes sense. This is the kind of shift that can help bring the voluntary sector into the provision of public services, one of Mr Cameron's longstanding strategic goals.

The big stumbling block is resources. These reforms cost money. But with a future Conservative government committed to cutting spending and terrified of making spending pledges, can this be really delivered? On special needs, Mr Cameron understands the problems and has sound ideas on how to improve matters. But the test is whether he can turn bold plans into reality.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Website Editor

£15 - £17 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently r...

Primary Teachers needed for supply in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: We are looking to rec...

Primary Supply teaching jobs in Stowmarket

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

Year 1 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: The Job An inner city Birmingham sc...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Ed Miliband is so scared of becoming Tony Blair he has forgotten how to communicate

Lance Price
Young Syrian refugees gather around a small fire at the Minieh camp in Lebanon  

Cameron and Obama may want to ‘destroy’ Isis, but what will they do about the growing number of refugees fleeing Iraq and Syria?

Kate Allen
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments