Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 23 October 2014


There are two charities locally which consistently feature on our radar whenever any of us consider giving to good causes. I refer of course to St. Luke's Hospice and Dame Hannah Rogers School. The former provides respite care for the terminally ill and does so with a remarkable professionalism. The latter provides education, housing, training and support for profoundly disabled young people and has been a beacon of excellence for many years.

Both of these organisations have long been worthy of our support.

It has therefore been a frustrating experience to witness Dame Hannahs (DH) being put under the cosh by Ofsted. The trigger for this, as we all saw in the press, was a self-referral by the DH management to the police of 2 or 3 suspicious incidents that required investigation. Their first thought as ever was the wellbeing of their clients.

What a shock it was that on the back of this Ofsted decided to put on their hobnail boots and stamp all over the professionalism of the DH staff and suspend its licence to operate (in part) while further investigation and discussions took place. It was never the view of the police, to whom I spoke, that closure was necessary.  Police investigations have now been concluded with no further action being taken.

Ofsted appear to have over-reacted and I think I know why. Recent national scandals involving the wicked abuse of vulnerable people in care have seared themselves deeply into the mind-set of those charged with oversight of our care institutions. Understandable. But it is surely not acceptable for professional people to make decisions to first of all protect themselves from future criticism, rather than put the welfare of the vulnerable person first.

I am convinced that this is what happened this summer with Ofsted and DH.

There were undoubtedly issues in the processes of DH which could have been improved upon, there always will be following any detailed scrutiny. But, there was never any reason to close the place down. The pain and turbulence this decision caused to many disabled young people and their families cannot be over-estimated. Needless to say, I will be taking this matter further.

But it is important as DH now slowly gets back up- to speed, that its place in the local community is firmly re-established. This is a great place full of brilliant people who do wonderful work and we should all be proud of it.

posted by Gary @ 09:45