Lord Strathclyde subs for Michael Gove at Kisharon

By Ben Jaglom, May 14, 2009
Late sub: Lord Strathclyde

Late sub: Lord Strathclyde

The frenzy over MPs’ expenses forced special needs charity Kisharon into a last-minute change of speaker for its dinner at the Hilton Park Lane on Sunday evening.

Shadow Schools Secretary Michael Gove had been due to address the 700 guests but was summoned to a meeting with David Cameron, which Kisharon trustee Leo Noe said related to “an emergency that has been discussed extensively in the news recently”. Mr Gove has been accused of “flipping” homes to maximise allowances, a charge he denies.

However, the charity was able to call on Lord Strathclyde, the Tories’ leader in the Lords, who attacked the Labour line on special education, highlighting the loss of 9,000 special needs places.

“Many have had to find places in the independent sector,” he said. “It is Conservative policy to try and give the parents of special educational needs children the option of sending their children to a specialist school, and not to try and force them to learn in mainstream education, where both they and other children suffer.”

Twelve-year-old Kisharon pupil Joshua Diamond took to the stage to perform a song he had written titled He Went Far. Joshua, who is autistic, came to Kisharon after experiencing problems in mainstream education.

His parents, Maurice and Melanie Diamond from Southgate, said: “Josh has always loved singing and to perform on stage has been one of his ambitions”.

Providing educational services for children and adults with learning disability, Kisharon needs to raise £1.4 million to meet its funding shortfall from a £4 million-plus budget after government contributions.

Last updated: 4:59pm, May 14 2009