11/09/2012 Newsnight


11/09/2012

In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Jeremy Paxman.


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Transcript


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The examination system in England and Wales is supposed to be an

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independent measure of what our young people have learned in school.

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What credibility does it still have?

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In Cardiff, the Welsh Education Minister says he wants GCSE exam

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results regraded. The chair of the Education Select

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Committee in London says he just wants to find out what's happened,

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and meanwhile, the victims, or survivors of the exams, want to

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know they have been treated fairly. The havoc causeded in Italy by

:00:39.:00:46.

London banks, we reveal the way they sold almost incomprehensible

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financial products to Italian local authorities, and sank them further

:00:49.:00:53.

into debt. TRANSLATION: People need to wake up to what is going on or

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nothing will change. Banks threaten to take their capital out of

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countries if regulation comes in, but we need regulation, because

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these banks are plundering society. Reader, I divorced him, is it time

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the law was changed to limit the settlements when marriages fall

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apart? It has been 50 years, but at last The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

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of fantasy fiction is complete. What took the author, Robert Garner

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so long. I had enough of the two main character, I loathed their

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guts, because I had lived with them for eight years, and they hadn't

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:01:42.:01:44.

moved on and I had. The secondary school examination

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system is a shambles, discuss. For various politicians and officials

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invited to answer this question gave different answers today. The

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Welsh Education Minister has ordered a regrading of the GCSE

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papers, the English being the case in point. His counterpart in

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England refuses to do so. The issues raised in fairness, about

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the rising standards, the vested interest in teacher unions, the

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regulation of the examination boards, about the nature of

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Government in a devolved system, are of post-graduate level

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complexity. I'm going in for my test now, it

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will be my eighth time, I'm not going to say I'm going to pass, I'm

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just going to say to myself I will try. Since Maureen shot to fame in

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Driving School, the national pass rate for driving tests has rarely

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changed, confidence in the system is high. Very different from GCSEs,

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where it seems this year examers without telling students or

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instructors, suddenly made the test harder to pass. Today the Education

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Select Committee was trying to find out how and why. Basically you

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should have had enough data and information to do this. You were

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already alert to the problems. Some how, we still find ourselves

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sitting here today. That must mean that you have failed somewhere to

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do what you should do in order to anticipate it. That's the

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allegation. I understand, the position is, as ever, a little bit

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more complicated than it first appears. So the foundation teir

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paper, of course it is an examination paper, an examination s

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is, by their very nature, different. A GCSE is not a driving test, but

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it is also testing basic skills, some would argue, the use of

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language. The paper, which on the face of it seem pretty straight

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forward, the marking has become complicated. Partly because of the

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new exam, but also because Ofqual has demanded comparable results,

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those that are on a par with previous years. It appears Ofqual

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intervened this summer, telling examers where to draw the lines.

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Ofqual's director of standards wrote to the Exam Board, worried

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the proportion of pupils awarded a C grade, would be 8% higher than

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predicted. They said it may require them to move grading boundaries

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more than required. The Exam Board fought back with their own analysis.

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They believed it to be compelling evidence that their award was fair.

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They didn't believe a further revision of the grade boundaries

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was justified. They did move their boundaries, though, as did the

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other boards. Many thousands of students got D were their teachers

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had predicted a C. We are, I think, in an uncomfortable position, in

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fairness terms. To cut you off, we have limited time left. I'm sure

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you are in an uncomfortable position, but this is about young

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people who sat this exam last year, who might not have achieved the A

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they received for future university prospects, or the C they needed in

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order to go forward and change their next studies. So, you

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actually acknowledge that it is not fair, some people got lucky, and it

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was tough on the rest. I'm not saying it was tough on the rest. We

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had a very careful look at June aid warding, June awarding of right.

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Michael Gove has often said he wants exams to be tougher, Glenys

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Stacey, whom he appointed, has denied any political interference.

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In Wales everything's different, the Education Minister's ordered

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GCSEs, set by the Welsh boards, to be regraded. Many in England sat

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those tests too, nothing will change for them. The academic, most

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critical of grade inflation, says this is dangerous deadlock. Most

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people's intertation of what a GCSE grade tells you about a person,

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whether they are qualified to go on to further study, or other things

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that employers might interpret from those grades, are just not

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consistent. You get one grade if you happen to live in England and a

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different grade if you happen to live in Wales, even though you did

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exactly the same exam, and it was marked the same way, and everything

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else about it was the same. I just can't see it surviving that.

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driving test has an absolute standard, there are no limits on

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how many people can get through each year, using limits, through

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comparable GCSE outcomes, is at the heart of the problems. Some say if

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you want to limit achievement, raise the standard, don't limit how

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many have passed. I'm sorry you have been unsuccessful. I will be

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speaking to two students who took the GCSE English exam in a moment.

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First, let as talk to the Welsh Education Minister, Leighton

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Andrews. You have asked for a regrading. How many students do you

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believe were unfairly treated? don't know the exact figures, but

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we suspect it will reach into hundreds in Wales. So, in order to

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make thatle kalation, you know where you suspect the boundary --

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calculation, you know where you suspect the boundary was. We had a

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thorough report from officials that looked at comparative performance,

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year on year, in Wales. There has been less change in terms of the

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exam specifications in Wales, than perhaps there has been in England.

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We think the boundary was, will have to move, we suspect it will

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result in a regrading, which will lift grades by, maybe, 2.5%,

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compared to what we had. How should it move, from what to what? What we

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are looking at, really, is the question of what levels the

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different grades should be set at. There has been too much focus on

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what happened in January and what happened in June. The real issue is

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what's going on around what is known in regulatory jargon, as

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comparable outcomes. The idea is, if you change exam specifications

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in a year, there should not be significant shift in the overall

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outcomes. Now, we don't believe that this year's results have seen

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that happen in Wales. We believe we have had something rather different

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from that. You know perfectly what is being said, it is that you are

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demanding this regrading, because, particularly under your regime, but

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for several years now, education in Wales has been getting worse and

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worse and worse and that is shown up in international surveys. What

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you're trying to do, is to massage the figures? You could argue that,

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Jeremy, if I was asking for a regrading in every Sue subject, in

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every GCSE. I'm focusing on one area where there is a problem. It

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is widely acknowledged there is a problem in GCSE English language.

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Michael Gove says the results are probably unfair. Head teachers

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throughout England and Wales say they are unfair. The Northern

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Ireland Education Minister has also asked for an inquiry into what has

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happened in one part of the exam system there. I think there is

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general recognition, there is a specific problem with relation to

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English language. But you accept that there may be other subjects in

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which it may be necessary, at some point, to demand a regrading?

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in this year. We think these are exceptional circumstances, it is

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not just us saying this. As I said, Michael Gove has said he thinks the

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results may have been unfair. But we have got head teachers in the

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state sector, we have head teachers in the private sector, all saying

:09:54.:10:00.

there is a problem with English language this year.

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If the outcome at the end of all of this is separate systems in England

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and Wales is that a good or bad thing? There is a separate system

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in Scotland, of course. The GCSE and A-levels are a three-country

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system, Northern Ireland, England and Wales much the Northern Ireland

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Education Minister, and I, have written jointly to Michael Gove,

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expressing our concerns about the number of statements he has made

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about GCSEs and A-levels. So, my question was, is it a

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desirable outcome if the end point of all of this is separate systems

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in England and Wales, the implication of your answer is, no,

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not necessarily? We have a proper qualifications review under way in

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Wales, which we start some months ago. That will report later this

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autumn. It has taken evidence from a wide variety of people throughout

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the United Kingdom, including the university sector. We are building

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up an evidence base, we will look at what they say. Thank you. We are

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joined now about two student who is find themselves either side of the

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great schism, Dakota Clarke who sat a GCSE in January, and Jack Coates

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who sat in the summer, and didn't. With them is the head of the

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Education Select Committee. Tell me what happened, then? We had been on

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task for our Cs, we had all worked very hard, we had put a lot of

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effort in, and when we opened our piece of paper and we saw we had

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got a D. Were you shocked? Very shocked and disappointed. You,

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sounds a bit rude, you scraped a C, effectively? Yeah. Were you

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pleased? I was very pleased. what do you think would have

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happened had you had to sit, that was in January, had you had to sit

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this summer, what would have happened? D. Probably and D or an E.

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You are a pretty lucky guy? Yes. you think you have been unfairly

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treated? Definitely. What has been the effect of not getting the C you

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wanted? I'm now set back a year, I have to go back to college just to

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retake my English so I can get my apprenticeship. You were going to

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get an apprenticeship, dependant on getting a C in English. You didn't

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get it, so you have to wait a year and retake the exam and get it then,

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we hope. That is a serious consequence, isn't it? Yeah.

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anyone explained to you, your teachers, about what might have

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happened? The teachers said I should have had a C as well. There

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was 19 kids in our school that didn't get the Cs. Your teachers

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might not have known, but they were wrong. What do you feel about the

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exam system now? I think it is wrong they have changed them from

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January to June, I think they should have starteded it from the

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beginning of this year, then it would have been fair for all the

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kids in year 11, last year. You are not disputing that they had a right

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to change the standards? No, I don't think they had the right to

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change it. You don't? No. But you have just said the argument was

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about timing? Yes. What do you make of all of this, you are having this

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big inquiry? It is a good thing to bring in those at the centre of it,

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young people, working hard, feeling disappointed. Trying to get to the

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bottom of it, a whole series of things has come together. The

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design of this exam, all the English exams this year were new,

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they were designed on this modual later basis, so you could take them

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in the year rather than linear events. Certain amounts of marks

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were allocated by the teachers to the pupils. Because of the nature

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of it, teachers thought they knew where the grade boundaries were,

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the exam bodies say there was a boosting of that marking,

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overmarking, perhaps informed by teachers who thought they knew

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where the boundary was. They were tending to offer higher marks. You

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have all this complexity. And within a system that's described

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that way, you have bigger variability than normal. Some

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schools have done much, much better than expected, others have done a

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lot worse, and no-one this morning, we had head teachers, the

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professional bodies, and the regulator coming in, nobody could

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explain why there is huge turbulence and vairyabs in the

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system, which has -- variables in the system, which has left young

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people, still in schools, suddenly out of favour. You said your

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teachers predicted a C, I said to you it is possible the teachers

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were wrong. Clearly they were wrong in many cases, because of the day

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of reckoning? In the end they were wrong, they were right until it was

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changed at the last minute. I see, you think the teachers were

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predicting on the basis of what they knew, not on what happened? Is

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that possible? Ofqual said typically schools overpredict. Last

:15:29.:15:39.
:15:39.:15:39.

year they thought that 77% of people would get an English GCSE C

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or above. It is not unheard of. It is just the number of schools and

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the extent to which they were out from their expectation seems to be

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higher. There is work going on to try to understand that. Overall, if

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you control who took the exam this year, they do this comparable

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performance stuff. If you look at who took it, and previous

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achievements, actually, Ofqual, say, people on average, did better this

:16:04.:16:11.

year than last year. Throw that into the mix and it is complicated

:16:11.:16:15.

to work out the result. Meanwhile, you have lot of confidence in the

:16:15.:16:19.

general public and amongst schools, and young people wondering

:16:19.:16:25.

whether...Do You have faith in the examination system? I would not

:16:25.:16:32.

allow this very poorly-constructed exam, which, as it happens, was

:16:32.:16:35.

instigated by the last Government. There was warnings about the MoD

:16:35.:16:39.

later nature of it, and warnings about the controlled assessment of

:16:39.:16:47.

it. They preed ahead of it anyone, when the then minister was pressed

:16:47.:16:51.

repeatedly by the current schools minister, she said Ofqual will have

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to deal with it. Ofqual and the young people find themselves in the

:16:55.:16:58.

middle of a predictable car crash, and we're trying to find out what's

:16:58.:17:08.
:17:08.:17:10.

really gone on. Jack could be regraded if he was in Wales, yes or

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no, should Michael Gove argue for regrading in England? We need a

:17:14.:17:18.

better understanding, first, and secondly, I would caution the

:17:18.:17:22.

minister in Wales and elsewhere. You do not do young people a

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service by allowing the careless devaluation of the currency

:17:28.:17:33.

overtime. That is neither a yes nor a no. Now the euro crisis chapter

:17:33.:17:38.

73. Its causes had nothing to do with us, say faintly smug-sounding

:17:38.:17:43.

Britains. Not so fast, the Italian legal system is pouring over claims

:17:43.:17:46.

that local authorities there were sold financial products, by banks

:17:46.:17:50.

based in London, which they didn't, couldn't have, understood.

:17:50.:17:53.

Newsnight has discovered that whistleblowers within those banks,

:17:53.:17:58.

who highlight what had they felt when mis-selling, were fired. Their

:17:58.:18:08.
:18:08.:18:11.

complaints that the FSA routinely ignored them. This is a tragedy of

:18:11.:18:15.

operatic proportions, of London- based banks making massive profits

:18:15.:18:18.

on inappropriate deals in Italy. With a cast of characters speaking

:18:18.:18:22.

exclusively to Newsnight. We reveal the role the City of London has

:18:22.:18:28.

played in pushing Italy to the brink. On the surface it was a

:18:28.:18:38.

great deal. The Italians thought they would get money for free.

:18:38.:18:41.

Whistleblowers are telling Newsnight about the culture of

:18:41.:18:47.

greed in London banks, and an Italian hero speaking in his first

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TV interview, bought the British banks without any intervention from

:18:51.:18:57.

the regulator. TRANSLATION: I saw no intervention into banks. As the

:18:57.:19:01.

euro zone limps from crisis to crisis, the consequences of this

:19:01.:19:06.

scandal may be more than financial for all of Europe. We will have a

:19:06.:19:16.
:19:16.:19:28.

The home of opera, and gel lat toe, is turning sour, its debt levels

:19:28.:19:35.

are as high as Greece, GDP is shrinking, and a bail out looms. It

:19:35.:19:45.

may be straut that breaks the federal back. Apart from inventing

:19:45.:19:51.

banking, the Italians invented opera, the most famous one is here

:19:51.:19:57.

in Milan. It needed extensive renovations about ten years a it

:19:57.:20:02.

was funded from London investment banks. There were very good deals

:20:02.:20:05.

to be had, too good to be true, in fact.

:20:05.:20:10.

Investment banks invented something far more creative and profitable

:20:10.:20:18.

than opera, called, "derivatives", these perfectly formed financial

:20:18.:20:25.

policies were a great way to borrow. Some of them sought less well

:20:25.:20:28.

protected customers, being banned from selling to the British

:20:28.:20:33.

customer. Here is how it worked, the region would issue a bond and

:20:33.:20:37.

borrow money, which would be bought by the investment bank, who would,

:20:37.:20:42.

in turn, sell it on to other banks. That is the easy bit. Banks offered

:20:42.:20:47.

to manage the repayments of that bond, by selling a derivative,

:20:47.:20:53.

called a swap. Built into the fine print was clause that is put tax-

:20:53.:20:59.

payers on the hook for complicated failures by the banks in London.

:20:59.:21:03.

The banks would say customers were aware. In one case an Italian

:21:03.:21:08.

region had been unwittingly sold a swap, the fine print would mean

:21:08.:21:12.

that it, not the bank, would have to pay out if Greece ever defaulted

:21:12.:21:18.

on its debts. Something that has come to pass. It wasn't just Milan,

:21:18.:21:21.

the financial engineering spread to every corner of Italy, even

:21:21.:21:29.

universities and hospitals. On the surface it was great deal. The

:21:29.:21:35.

Italians thought they would get money for free. They would get

:21:35.:21:43.

advance money to be repaid in decades to come. They didn't have

:21:43.:21:48.

the technical capacity to analyse those deals. Often times they

:21:48.:21:52.

depended on expert and financial advisers, who were, in fact, paid

:21:52.:21:58.

by the banks so. Their counterparts. Who had no incentive to protect the

:21:58.:22:03.

interests of the Italian authorities. They ended up taking

:22:03.:22:11.

on risks that are much higher than what was appropriate for them, and

:22:11.:22:18.

taking risk that later on, you know, could lead to even bankruptcy.

:22:18.:22:22.

irony is, that the federal Government in Rome actively

:22:22.:22:26.

encouraged its cities and regions to borrow directly from London-

:22:26.:22:30.

based investment banks. Idea was to get the borrowing figure for Rome

:22:30.:22:36.

down, in order to join the euro. Between 1997 and 2007, borrowing

:22:36.:22:46.
:22:46.:22:47.

from regional Italian Governments, went from zero to 111 billion euros.

:22:47.:22:50.

The banks didn't bet on the land specialist, Alfredo Robledo. In his

:22:50.:22:56.

first television interview, he told how he realised his city was liable

:22:56.:23:00.

for billions to London banks, and doggedly pursued them, despite

:23:00.:23:07.

their secretive ways. TRANSLATION: Their behaviour wasn't honest or

:23:08.:23:11.

transparent T allowed them to make profits that orderly would never

:23:11.:23:14.

have been possible. Afterwards, they refused to show us their

:23:14.:23:18.

records, or what they had earned. Politicianings across Europe need

:23:18.:23:23.

to face this challenge, and people need to wake up to -- politicians

:23:23.:23:26.

across Europe need to face up to this challenge and people need to

:23:26.:23:30.

wake up or it won't change. Banks threaten to take capital out of

:23:30.:23:34.

countries if regulation comes in, but we need regulation, these

:23:34.:23:38.

companies are plundering society. Having, at first, ignored him, the

:23:39.:23:45.

investment banks, UBS, Deutsche Bank, and JP Morgan, changed tack,

:23:45.:23:48.

when Robledo's team raided offices and locked staff out of buildings

:23:48.:23:53.

they were working in. After two years of stone walling, they paid

:23:53.:23:58.

Milan a settlement of half a billion euro, and Tory up the

:23:58.:24:04.

contracts without -- tore up the contracts without affirming guilt.

:24:04.:24:10.

If Milan, the most wealthy part of the country, can have these land

:24:10.:24:15.

mines in the small print. What about the poorest part of Italy,

:24:15.:24:25.
:24:25.:24:27.

like kal labia and Sicily. -- Calabria and Sicily. Parts here are

:24:27.:24:32.

like a different country, just a few metres in the main road in

:24:32.:24:35.

Palermo, people sell their belongings, in a makeshift market

:24:36.:24:42.

to get a few extra euros. Sicily borrowed 2.5 billion euros from

:24:42.:24:48.

Nomura, using a risky swap to manage the repayments. Now these

:24:48.:24:53.

derivatives have helped bankrupt the region, which needed a 400

:24:53.:24:57.

million euro bail out in July. Unemployment in places like this is

:24:57.:25:02.

can reach as high as 90%. The vast majority of people are dependant on

:25:02.:25:06.

the region and the city and the state for their living. But all are

:25:06.:25:12.

broke. It isn't helped by the fact that they unwittingly signed

:25:12.:25:16.

contracts with London-based banks, which put tax-payers and citizens

:25:16.:25:23.

on the hook for hundreds of millions of euros. Five miles and a

:25:23.:25:29.

world away from the slums, the new Mayor of Palermo says he's cleaning

:25:29.:25:34.

up after a decade of corruption, including some deals followed with

:25:34.:25:38.

foreign banks. We are speaking of the same banks, who are responsible

:25:38.:25:48.
:25:48.:25:49.

for the world international crisis. They destroyed with street crime

:25:49.:25:53.

many of the financial systems in the world. One of these street

:25:53.:25:58.

crimes was in Sicily. The mayor doesn't hold back with criticism

:25:58.:26:08.
:26:08.:26:08.

over one previous officials. One is in jail for his ties with the Cosa

:26:08.:26:13.

Nostra. He also had ties to offshore bank accounts, and

:26:13.:26:19.

millions in "facilitation fees" were paid by Nomura bank.

:26:19.:26:24.

Supposedly to make Italy sign these lucrative contracts. Politicians

:26:24.:26:29.

and middlemen and bankers, could, in Italy, according to mayor

:26:29.:26:33.

Orlando, have far-reaching consequences. If we don't counter

:26:34.:26:40.

with a real strong activity, with a great intervention of the national

:26:40.:26:48.

Government, there is a risk we will have a social revolt, and the civil

:26:48.:26:58.
:26:58.:27:06.

# Why didn't anyone do something in the face of what appears to go

:27:06.:27:12.

obvious mis-selling. Some people did put their heads above the

:27:12.:27:22.
:27:22.:27:38.

parapet, one senior banker told Hes are also informed the FSA,

:27:38.:27:42.

after he was forced out of his job. But the bank and employment

:27:42.:27:49.

tribunal refused to rk him as a -- recognise him as a whistleblower,

:27:50.:27:55.

which would have been recognised under UK law. Despite the laws to

:27:55.:28:00.

protect whistleblowers, Newsnight has revealed a startling fact, not

:28:01.:28:04.

saiingle bank has been published for forcing out individuals for

:28:04.:28:08.

highlighting concerns within his or her bank. The FSA has form, this

:28:08.:28:13.

man, John, also blew the whistle on a London investment bank on a

:28:13.:28:18.

different matter, he too was fired. Speaking exclusively to Newsnight,

:28:18.:28:24.

he was portrayed as a malcontent by his bank for highing problems with

:28:24.:28:31.

them. You got hired for blowing the whistle, what kind of modus opprand

:28:31.:28:35.

da do banks have with a whistleblower? Nobody wants to

:28:35.:28:42.

admit they didn't do their job, an unholy alliance will kick in, want

:28:43.:28:50.

to go bad mouth the whistleblower as a poor perform former.

:28:50.:28:54.

John wrote to the FSA and the watchdog wrote back saying they

:28:54.:28:59.

wouldn't act on the information and saying never contact again. The FSA

:28:59.:29:03.

say inaction has been the central theme of the financial crisis, many

:29:03.:29:08.

accuse it of being too close to banks a watchdog who slumbered,

:29:08.:29:11.

instead of barking or biting. TRANSLATION: The role of the FSA

:29:11.:29:15.

has been very much in the spotlight, I think the banks, if they were

:29:15.:29:20.

able to, would reduce the FSA's powers. In terms of the

:29:20.:29:29.

surveillance of the FSA of London banks, I saw no evidence of them.

:29:29.:29:33.

The FSA conceded that no bank had been ever sanctioned for firing a

:29:33.:29:43.

whistleblower, and they couldn't comment on individual cases.

:29:43.:29:48.

Back in Italy, the banks at the centre of the derivative story face

:29:48.:29:51.

civil and criminal action against them from several cities and

:29:51.:29:54.

regions. Some of these regions have stopped repaying the banks until

:29:54.:29:59.

the cases are settled. All the banks approached by Newsnight

:29:59.:30:02.

refused to answer any of our questions, many didn't wish to

:30:02.:30:07.

comment in light of on going criminal proceedings. All deny

:30:07.:30:12.

wrongdoing. There can be few more painful

:30:12.:30:16.

experiences than divorce and the acceptance of failure. The American

:30:16.:30:19.

actor Robin Williams once remarked that the word comes from the Latin

:30:19.:30:24.

for "to rip out a man's genitals through his wallet". But who is

:30:24.:30:30.

entitled to expect from it? What are they entitled to it. The body

:30:30.:30:34.

who is supposed to keep the law up- to-date is wondering whether there

:30:34.:30:37.

might not be better ways of dealing with the financial aspects of the

:30:37.:30:42.

end of a marriage. There was a time when the happy

:30:42.:30:47.

couple said "till death do us part" on their wedding day and meant it.

:30:47.:30:51.

The stigma of divorce ensured there was little option. But the number

:30:51.:30:58.

of divorces really began to rise in the early 1970, and by the mid-

:30:58.:31:03.

1990s, a third of couples were untying the knot before their 15th

:31:03.:31:07.

anniversary. The latest figures show there were 120,000 divorces in

:31:07.:31:15.

2010. It is only recently the divorce

:31:15.:31:18.

settlements of the superrich and stars making the headlines. Former

:31:19.:31:22.

spouses have a legal responsibility to each other's financial needs. It

:31:22.:31:27.

is not clear what on earth that means. The Law Commission for

:31:27.:31:31.

England and Wales compares divorce judges to, a bus driver who has

:31:31.:31:35.

been told how to drive the bus, but has not been told where to go, nor

:31:35.:31:41.

why he's to go there. The commission proposes three main

:31:41.:31:45.

options for reform. Compensating people until they reach the kind of

:31:45.:31:48.

standard of living they would have been enjoyed had they not made the

:31:49.:31:58.
:31:59.:32:03.

career and childcare decisions The commission says it doesn't like

:32:03.:32:07.

the Scottish system, where support after divorce only lasts for three

:32:07.:32:11.

years. To discuss the whys and where fors

:32:11.:32:16.

of divorce law, I'm joined by Baroness Ruth Deech, chair of the

:32:16.:32:19.

bar standards board, and Jeremy Levison a practising divorce lawyer,

:32:19.:32:25.

who has acted in many high-profile divorce cases. What has gone wrong?

:32:25.:32:29.

I have been writing about this for 35 years, the message has finally

:32:29.:32:35.

got through. The current law is unfair, unjust, uncertain,

:32:35.:32:41.

expensive, and causes enormous bitterness. It has no principled

:32:41.:32:45.

basis to it at all. Ever since divorce was changed to be, in

:32:45.:32:50.

theory, without fault, and men and women are equal, tough ask yourself

:32:50.:32:53.

why should one support the other when it has broken down. Every time

:32:53.:32:57.

I have lectured on this, I have had hundreds of letters from members of

:32:57.:33:02.

the public, pouring out their hearts, and protesting on how their

:33:02.:33:05.

life savings have been taken away and the bitterness that has

:33:05.:33:10.

accompanied what is a very easy divorce law. Is it unfair to one

:33:10.:33:14.

gender rather than another? theory the law is equal, but the

:33:14.:33:20.

courts bend over backwards to favour women, to such an extent

:33:20.:33:23.

that arguably it undermines women's independence in the world of work.

:33:23.:33:28.

Because the judges, they are trying to be helpful, they see women as

:33:28.:33:33.

housewifes who have sacrificed an awful lot, and couldn't possibly --

:33:33.:33:35.

housewives who have sacrificed an awful lot and couldn't fend for

:33:35.:33:38.

themselves. When you look at the proposal, I suppose you are against

:33:39.:33:42.

them because it is bad for business? I don't think they are of

:33:42.:33:45.

any great relevance at all in the context of what we are talking

:33:45.:33:49.

about. I thought I might start by reading you two-and-a-half very

:33:49.:33:55.

short passages from this report, which extends to 131 pages. "this

:33:55.:34:01.

project is not a full review of this area of the law. Our task now,

:34:01.:34:06.

in addition to our work on marital property agreements" the Law

:34:06.:34:11.

Commission has been looking at prenups in the venacular for some

:34:11.:34:15.

time now. "it is therefore to consider needs in the law and

:34:15.:34:20.

financially generally, and to consider also of the status of the

:34:20.:34:24.

non-mat moanal property". Is there much more? "whether there is

:34:24.:34:29.

widespread dissatisfaction with outcomes is unclear." So the report

:34:29.:34:33.

itself, quoting from it, really, already, raises doubts as to

:34:33.:34:37.

whether we have a problem to deal with. You wouldn't deny we have

:34:37.:34:42.

become the divorce tourism capital of the world? I would deny that. We

:34:42.:34:47.

have of a divorce law that in its present form, more or less. Is it

:34:47.:34:51.

true? Women come here because they know they will get much, much more

:34:51.:34:55.

here than elsewhere. By and large, until very recently, they have been

:34:55.:34:59.

able to rip up the prenups. What is going on is really bad. People are

:34:59.:35:03.

very unhappy. My main fear now is the Law Commission will shy away

:35:03.:35:06.

from it. Governments don't like to touch this, because it brings up

:35:06.:35:11.

all the moral arguments. They are making very heavy weather of it, we

:35:11.:35:14.

could easily move to the Scottish model, quickly, which isn't bad at

:35:14.:35:18.

all. Main thing is to avoid expense, there is lots of cases where the

:35:18.:35:27.

assets are worth, say, �1 million, half of that is spent on legal fees.

:35:27.:35:31.

The formula in the report today is working it out on the Internet and

:35:31.:35:35.

get an idea of what you might get. Saving fees. Putting people out of

:35:35.:35:39.

business? Too bad. The Government might like it, because Legal Aid is

:35:39.:35:44.

being removed, and the courts will be clogged up with self-

:35:44.:35:50.

representing litigants if we don't sort the law out.

:35:50.:35:54.

That is not what the report is doing, it is very, very narrowly

:35:54.:36:00.

based. It suggests there might possibly be a formula to calculate

:36:00.:36:05.

how needs can be assessed on an on going basis. It is worth trying,

:36:05.:36:10.

isn't it? The problem with any formula is if has tried before and

:36:10.:36:19.

failed. It doesn't work. Take Germany, for example, they codified

:36:19.:36:22.

their law, they thought 100% in the civil code. They then had to

:36:22.:36:26.

provide exception after exception, now they rely on case law to sort

:36:26.:36:32.

out the gaps. In Canada it work, in America it has been proposed and

:36:32.:36:37.

all over continent nepbl Europe, they have a straight forward --

:36:37.:36:41.

continental Europe, it they have a straight forward way of dividing

:36:41.:36:45.

assets. It wouldn't matter if you had a brilliant lawyer like Mr

:36:45.:36:50.

Levison here, or a less brilliant lawyer, it wouldn't depend on that,

:36:50.:36:54.

it would be a straight forward form la, saying you were married for X

:36:54.:36:59.

number of years. That is one of the -- formula, saying you were married

:36:59.:37:04.

for X number of years. I would love if he was on my said, point is you

:37:04.:37:10.

would get certainty, you wouldn't wait tens of thousands fighting

:37:10.:37:13.

over assets that aren't worth that much. This report isn't dealing

:37:14.:37:19.

with assets, but on going needs. For the most part it is dealing

:37:19.:37:23.

with maintenance requirements, after a divorce breaks down. Why

:37:23.:37:27.

should a woman who divorces someone be supported for the rest of her

:37:27.:37:32.

natural life in figures of hundreds of thousands or millions of pounds?

:37:32.:37:38.

The present law, it says in section 25 of the 1973 act, it says a wife

:37:38.:37:42.

is entitled to receive maintenance for as long as she needs it. Until

:37:42.:37:45.

she can adjust to having her maintenance removed from her,

:37:45.:37:54.

without suffering undue hardship. Within the whole thrust of the

:37:54.:37:59.

divorce law it is fairness, that can take a million different forms

:37:59.:38:03.

and circumstances. It is as argued by lawyers like? No, let me read

:38:03.:38:11.

you another small bit. No, don't, please. The report says itself, we

:38:11.:38:14.

cannot guarantee that the provision of a formula would work in practice.

:38:14.:38:20.

It says that. But it is the average woman who goes to work, will wonder

:38:20.:38:24.

why, as in one case, after three years of a childless marriage, a

:38:24.:38:33.

woman walks away with �5 million, or Heather Mills McCartney �28

:38:33.:38:40.

million, after very few years, another lady left her marriage with

:38:40.:38:43.

�48 million. The average woman doesn't earn that in a lifetime. If

:38:44.:38:47.

you marry banker you are quids in for the rest of your life. If you

:38:47.:38:51.

marry a poor man, you get next to nothing.

:38:51.:38:57.

We have all heard of writers block, but a 50-year hiatus is something

:38:57.:39:05.

else, the third part of the Weirdstone, trilogy, has just been

:39:05.:39:12.

published. The first part was in 1960, JK Rowling hadn't been born.

:39:12.:39:19.

The author is described by another children's writer as better an

:39:19.:39:29.
:39:29.:39:30.

Toilken. -- better than Toilken.

:39:30.:39:37.

Caspeo. A flame hissed upwards filling the room with light, shape

:39:37.:39:47.
:39:47.:39:48.

shifter opened the book and began to read. What's she up to, said

:39:48.:39:57.

Susan, it's giving me goose flesh. I remember as a child scrambling up

:39:57.:40:02.

the slopes, and thinking, why don't I live in an interesting place,

:40:02.:40:08.

nothing ever happens here. I read a lot of books and I like

:40:08.:40:14.

fantasy. I thought this was just normality. As I grew older I

:40:14.:40:18.

realised it was not normality. It was very strange, and I was so

:40:18.:40:25.

amazed by this place, that I inherited it. Newsnight tracked

:40:25.:40:30.

writer Robert Garner down to a secluded corner of the Cheshire

:40:30.:40:35.

countryside, where archaeologists are digging up part of an 18th

:40:35.:40:42.

century barn, right beside his house.

:40:42.:40:46.

In Garner's books too, what is ancient and underground is never

:40:46.:40:52.

far away. Wizards, dwarves, tunnels under hills, children with magical

:40:52.:41:02.
:41:02.:41:04.

bracelets. Grimia unhooked a pouch from his brace belt, and from it

:41:04.:41:11.

drew her bracelet, the drops hidden beneath a milky veil. The Morigan

:41:11.:41:15.

took the bracelet and placed it in the middle of the circle on the

:41:15.:41:20.

floor. She pulled the curtains over the windows and dors, and went to

:41:20.:41:28.

stand -- doors, and went to standby the brazier, who couldn't push back

:41:28.:41:32.

the darkness. The medieval buildings behind us, and the one

:41:32.:41:36.

that's been excavated, they are only the newcomers. Because the

:41:36.:41:41.

site has been occupied since the end of the last Ice Age. Which is

:41:41.:41:47.

10,000 years of people sitting on top of that little hill.

:41:47.:41:53.

I said it was secluded here, but Garner's storyed home, is

:41:53.:41:59.

overlooked by the telescope, of which, more later.

:41:59.:42:03.

Robert Garner is a writer of fantasy, but like Hardy, Orly Lee,

:42:04.:42:11.

he's also a writer of place. A very specific place, Alderley Edge, and

:42:11.:42:16.

that place alone. It is what I knew when I was growing up. It is where

:42:16.:42:24.

I learned what grass was, what rocks were. The trees in of tree.

:42:24.:42:29.

Wilmslow is over there that is out of bounds, you have never felt

:42:29.:42:33.

compelled to write the great Wilmslow novel? It is only half an

:42:33.:42:38.

hour away and I loathe it. I always have. They are God folk with tea

:42:38.:42:46.

shops and nice hedges? I knew it before then. What have you got

:42:46.:42:56.
:42:56.:42:57.

against Wilmslow? It is not here! In the rock above, up there, there

:42:57.:43:02.

is a face, and that is the face of the which is standard of the legend

:43:03.:43:08.

of alderlee. It was carved by my great -- Alderly, it was carved by

:43:08.:43:13.

my great, great, great, great grandfather. That is almost as

:43:13.:43:23.
:43:23.:43:23.

fantastical as your story? It is more fantastic, it is true. Is your

:43:23.:43:30.

story true, is the wizard true? but not in the little sense, would

:43:30.:43:33.

you never photograph him. believe in him, if that is the

:43:33.:43:41.

phrase I want? He's there. Robert Garner has continued to

:43:41.:43:45.

write, including for television. This was an adaptation of his book,

:43:45.:43:50.

The Owl Service. Which didn't exactly lack for backstory. Keeping

:43:50.:43:58.

the house for him are Nancy and her son, Gwn, and the gardener, Huw

:43:58.:44:03.

Halfbacon. She as furious when she finds that she has discovered a

:44:03.:44:08.

dinner service hidden in the roof of the house. Alison has traceded

:44:08.:44:13.

the pattern and rearranged it to make paper owls. She grows obsessed

:44:13.:44:23.
:44:23.:44:23.

by the need to make them. Now, 50 years on, there have been

:44:23.:44:28.

fresh sightings of the characters in Garner's first children's book,

:44:28.:44:32.

Colin and his sister. Alan, good toe talk to you this way. It is

:44:32.:44:36.

very good to speak and listen to you this way, it means I don't have

:44:36.:44:42.

to look at you. Bless you for that, a lot of people feel that way. Why

:44:42.:44:47.

have you put these whispering dishes into your new novel. They

:44:47.:44:53.

work on the same principle as the radio telescope does, collecting

:44:53.:44:57.

information from the gam galaxies. The character who works here -- the

:44:58.:45:02.

galaxies. The character who works here in the novel, is an

:45:02.:45:07.

astrophysicist rb, who may or may not be going mad when you are using

:45:07.:45:16.

them. It is very close to a sigh otic voice inside the head. -- a

:45:16.:45:24.

psyche cotic voice inside the head. In Boneland a woman is reading a

:45:24.:45:31.

story about a witch to a child in a doctor's surgery. Young man, do not

:45:31.:45:36.

go into the witch's house, and whatever you do, do not go upstairs,

:45:36.:45:46.
:45:46.:45:46.

you must not go upstairs. The receptionist came from her desk,

:45:46.:45:50.

Professor Worchesterfield. You must not geo. Professor whister field, I

:45:51.:45:56.

have been upstairs, they are not hens' legs, they are not the legs

:45:56.:46:06.
:46:06.:46:11.

of hens. They are not gallos domesticus. "the man is funny, he

:46:11.:46:18.

makes me laugh. Why has Ganna left it so long to complete -- Garner

:46:18.:46:23.

left it so long to complete the trilogy. I had enough of the two

:46:23.:46:26.

main character, I loathed their guts, I lived with them for eight

:46:26.:46:31.

years, and they hadn't moved on, and I had.

:46:31.:46:35.

The thought of spending any more time with them, I couldn't abide.

:46:35.:46:40.

Also, I had more ideas in my head. So it wasn't a publishers phone

:46:40.:46:45.

call, I suspect you wouldn't respond too kindly to that? I say

:46:45.:46:53.

in all humility, publishers should learn not to make phone call. I

:46:53.:47:03.
:47:03.:47:05.

can't do it if it isn't there. If it is there, I can't stop it.

:47:05.:47:08.

You only have to wait until tomorrow for Newsnight when Kirsty

:47:08.:47:18.
:47:18.:47:42.

will be here, until then, good Good evening, we had a bit of

:47:42.:47:46.

sunshine today. But for tomorrow a bit of change, a lot more cloud

:47:46.:47:50.

around. Some early brightness to the south and eastk but cloudier

:47:50.:47:55.

skies arriving for the afternoon -- easily, but cloudier skies arriving

:47:55.:47:58.

in the afternoon. Brighter across the North West England, still the

:47:58.:48:02.

risk of showers, plenty of showers for the Midlands, East Anglia and

:48:02.:48:06.

the south-east corner rb temperatures are 13 degrees, a cool

:48:07.:48:10.

afternoon. The south west corner, slightly milder, 16, with some

:48:10.:48:14.

brightness for the afternoon. Not a completely dry picture, with a

:48:14.:48:17.

scattering of showers, and a similar story across Wales. We are

:48:17.:48:20.

keeping the cool and blustery north-westerly breeze across much

:48:21.:48:24.

of the country. Noticable for Northern Ireland, despite it being

:48:24.:48:30.

fine and dry with sunny spells. Temperatures on the north coast 13.

:48:31.:48:34.

In Scotland, the occasional brightness and showers scattered

:48:34.:48:39.

across the north-east corner. That should increase in brightness as we

:48:39.:48:43.

go through the afternoon. Edinburgh seeing something brighter, but more

:48:43.:48:47.

cloud around through the day on Thursday. The winds strengthening

:48:47.:48:51.

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