25/11/2012 The Wales Report


The Education minister reveals his radical plans for reform. And could the government's latest welfare proposals push more of Wales's young and vulnerable on to the streets?

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This week on The Wales Report - the worrying state of our schools. Too


many are under-performing. We'll be asking the minister what's going


wrong. No women bishops in England - but is the Church in Wales going


to take a lead? We talk to the Archbishop. And are some of the


poorest people in Wales to become victims of benefit changes imposed


by Westminster? Stay with us for Good evening. Welcome once again to


the Wales Report, where we explore some of the most important factors


in Welsh life and talk to some of those making decisions which affect


life throughout Wales. And we start this week with the state of schools


in Wales. Too many of them are under-performing. Some of our local


education authorities are making a real hash of things and the answer


might be to bring everything under central control. That's the broad


view of Leighton Andrews, the education minister, the man who's


not afraid to make bold decisions. He's the one who ordered the re-


marking of GCSE English papers and he's radically reshaping the world


of the universities in Wales. But before we get carried away with his


bold statements, we might just remind ourselves that Labour's been


in power in Cardiff Bay since 1999, so there have to be some questions


about the party's stewardship of education since that time. I'll be


talking to Mr Andrews in a moment, but first, David Williams has been


hearing from some of those with It is now 18 months since Leighton


Andrews took over as the Welsh education minister. A new


headmaster, sweeping all before him, lauded in some circles as the man


who stopped the rot in education in Wales but, regarded by others as


abrasive, and riding roughshod over people's sensibilities, in pursuit


of his aims, both political and personal. Very different


perceptions, then, of the man in charge of education. But there is a


consensus among those who detract him and his supporters, and it is


this - he is widely regarded as one of the most able ministers in the


Welsh government, a man who knows what he wants and where he is going.


And I have given local a authorities time and money to get


their house in order but the evidence is overwhelming that this


has not happened. I am no longer prepared to wait until 2013. I have


instructed my officials to scope out a more wide ranging review of


the delivery of education services. That review could see local


authorities stripped of responsibility for schools. Clearly,


the minister had lost patience with colleagues in local government and


pressed the nuclear button. I am concerned this is more about his


legacy and the fact he does not want to be yet another Labour


minister who has failed to deliver substantial improvements in


education in Wales, joining the other 15 years of failure, and he


is trying to throw the cards up in the air, to try and achieve


something. Leighton Andrews is no stranger to controversy. He seems


to relish his role as catalyst for change, unveiling a 20 point


improvement plan for Education in 2011. It included the idea of


councils grouping together into regional consortia of education


services. But, progress in some areas has been painfully slow, too


slow for an education minister in a hurry. But, what happens -- lies


behind this latest controversial review? Is it feel you're on the


part of local authorities to run schools properly or is it more


Machiavellian than that, part of some grand plan by the Welsh


government to centralise power in hands of a few politicians, Kieran


Cardiff Bay? No, says the minister, it is all about improving education


standards. Others are more sceptical. Our members are finding


it very difficult to keep up with the pace of change in education in


Wales. This review is in danger of putting forward the agenda far more


quickly when we are not quite sure that there should be changed at the


moment, but we would prefer their to be time to prove what old


authorities can do through the regional consortia arrangements.


The children in whose name and the news interest each review and


policy announcement is made could be forgiven for feeling a little


confused, as can their parents. do not want to kill that my


children are educational guinea pigs at the whim of policy makers.


What you're saying is that stability is important. Yes,


stability is key, I think, yes. Stability might be difficult to


achieve in the current climate. This week, we can expect there is


also wrecked another review, this time into the exam system for 14-19


year olds. More changes might be on the way to our schools. That was


David Williams. I am joined by the education minister, Leighton


Andrews. Can you reassure people you believe in local democracy and


accountability? The very much so, we have lots of democracy but


little accountability. That is borne out by reports from Education


Inspectorate, which has shown we only have five good local


authorities at of 15 inspected. Five are adequate, or barely good


enough, and five are either in need of significant improvement of


special measures, so there was a lot to be done. Are their common


problems that you want to identify? There are lots of things leaders of


local councils have to look at. I want to ask why local councils into


been so late in schools or relay at all, as we have seen. They very


rarely use powers and integration when schools start getting into


trouble. They need to look closely at what they are doing. And when a


council is found to be in need of special measures, even then, local


government leaders are reluctant to act. What are your thoughts on


that? While directors of education who won feeling services staying in


their jobs? Why don't people act more swiftly and recklessly to sort


out the school system for the young people in their communities?


are the education minister - don't you have the powers to intervene?


Indeed I have. We have put a ministerial intervention Board into


Pembrokeshire. And we now have an intervention Board in Anglesey as


well. Illustrating the scale of the problem. It is quite clear that the


new inspection framework is tougher, is making more demands of local


authorities. They need now to step up to the mark. They seemed angry


about the suggestion that this form of local control and accountability


should be moved and centralised. You seem angry about what you see


as though you to perform. Whereas the compromise? There is a


performance issue. This is about their performance as education


authorities. I have not ruled anything in or out. It is going to


be a proper review. We look forward to him back from local government,


from them demonstrating not only that they what local democracy but


also to improve performance. I am encouraged by the new leadership in


local authorities since May this year, and they could point to


applique may Authority, a Labour authority and a Tory authority and


people are starting to get to grips with the challenges. People are


starting to get this right, but the pace has got to accelerate. People


who are jumping to conclusions who say you want to centralise things,


they are wrong? I would never have invented myself 22 Oct education


authorities and a country the size of Wales. We have too many


education authorities. It is very clear some of the smaller ones in


particular are not operating at the King of capacity that we want, and


that parents and pupils should expect. Why have you not made the


rational, valid case for reorganising that number of


laboratories rather than waiting for a bad performance in one area,


and using that as a tool, if you like, to going? It is my job to


driver performance in education throughout the system, and I am


focused on the poor performance we have seen in too many education


authorities. There are some things we might like to do quickly. Local


government reorganisation can take a long time to implement. Parents


and pupils watching this will be focusing on something rather more


basic, rather than talking about processes and structures, they will


think about quality of teaching, resources and facilities, some


schools do not have good facilities, buildings are crumbling, where, in


all of this debate is this talk about the nitty gritty? That is


part of this agenda. If we do not have the right level of support to


schools you find a situation where schools do not get the support


needed, and that is at the heart of what we are seeing, but, we are


investing in new buildings and new technology and I have to say to


local authorities, as I have said in my statement, I am concerned


about poor quality of Internet access for schools, and something I


am working very hard on. When you get your powers, and the powers you


have to intervene already, are you not tempted just to say, I have got


the powers in place, why can't I just run the education system


without this halfway house of local education authorities? We need


something between the government and the school, and that could be


local authorities, it could be regional consortia, such as we are


developing, and it could be regional school boards. If we took


most of the education responsibilities away from the


authorities are currently closed fidgeted and ran it on and regional


basis. We must face up to the fact that performance in education


service is overall, not good enough. We talk a lot about reviews, and


people's eyes glaze over when you talk about lots of reviews, because


they want practical results - when are we going to see them? If I just


acted, I would be accused of acting like a dictator. We have these


reviews, in order to get the views of the public. We will be


publishing an exciting qualification group review this


week. When you see the performers of Welsh schools, compared to parts


of the rest of the UK, not to mention abroad, it is not a very


competent position for you to be in. Standards have been increasing


throughout the period of devolution. There are 12% more people getting


A-star grades in A-level, and there are fewer young people leaving


schools without qualifications, so there have been significant


improvements during the period of devolution, but we can do better,


and if we could implement best practice across the wall of Wales,


then we would be moving very fast in terms of making national


progress -- the whole of Wales. Thank you Mr Andrews. Education is


one area where policy stands out in marked contrast to England and the


week brought another stark illustration when the General Synod


of the Church of England rejected plans to appoint women bishops. It


dismayed and angered many - including the outgoing Archbishop


of Canterbury Rowan Williams - and his successor Justin Welby - not to


mention many women who felt this was a major setback. Women should


not be barred from being in the House of Bishops. It is ridiculous


in today's society to have a boys' club of men who make decisions on


behalf of the church. It does not Some of the strongest voices in


favour were within the Church in Wales, which was in the vanguard of


the campaign to ordain women priests twenty years ago. So will


the Church in Wales now move independently to appoint women as


bishops? Joining me is the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan.


County are coming in. Pleasure. What is your response to the vote?


A I was deeply disappointed. I knew would be close but I did think the


vote would go through. It was a great shock. I understand how they


feel. In 2008, at the same thing happen to as in Wales where the


Bill was lost by about five votes in the House of clergy.


Consequently, we are at this stage were we to need to make sure we


bring in another bill in order to make it possible for a woman to be


elected as bishops. Just another thought on the outcome of this vote,


you have an outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury suffering a setback, an


incoming archbishop who made his views very plain. They have been


rejected. Is it not very destabilising for the Church


itself? Yes, of course, it is very disappointing for both of them.


People are in favour of bishops, but they do not always listen or


follow where bishops lead. The Bar is quite high, it is two-thirds in


each house. I know lots of people have spoken about the fact we


should change the rules, but you cannot do so in the middle of the


game. You have to play it and then think about the implications.


are the signals now, forgive me, which would inured you give


encouragement to women in Wales are who are looking at his push --


position in the Church in Wales? Next year the bishops will


introduce a Bill to the governing body. It will be a simple bill


talking about accepting the principle of women as bishops. In


that Bell, we separate any pastoral provisions. This bill will not come


into force we will say unless and until a second Bill is passed


making special provisions for you. The idea is to have the principal


out of the way so that as a church we're saying positively we believe


women should be allowed in the episcopate. A are using to people


you hope the Church in Wales will move to a point women bishops


before the Church of England gets his own opportunity to do so?


not a competition. That is attractive to you However? We have


been talking about it for a long time in Wales. It is only right we


should now, four years after 2008, bring it back. In the hope that


people accept the privet -- the principle. If that is passed, it


gives a strong indication to the church and the world that we really


do believe that women ought to be ordained. Then, all that does is


make it possible for women to be elected. One such caution, you are


presenting us with lots of caviar at. -- lots of caution. Why can you


not say, we end in a position where the Church of Wales presents a


woman be shipped to the world? Because I have tried that before.


It is not about what I want as archbishop. I would love to be able


to say the Church in Wales has elected a woman bishop. It is not


about what I want but about what is right for the Church. I believe


that it is right for women to be bishops in the Church of God. I


hope it will be possible, but we have to go through the processes


and we have to carry people with us. I hope by doing it in this way we


might just win over enough people so that they vote. We also have to


have a two-thirds majority. In that is not delivered in the next fears,


with people already expressing concern about the strength of the


judgment in Wales, where does that leave you? I think in a very sad


and sorry state. We have seen the reaction of the wider society to


the church. People do not understand the arguments against


the ordination of women to the episcopate. It does not make any


sense to me that if you ordain women as deacons and priests, not


to allow them to be bishops. We have the same arguments we had when


we talked about ordaining women to the priesthood. Thank you very much.


Archbishop, thank you for joining us. If you have any comments on


these or any other subjects, please get in touch. You can email


[email protected] or we're on twitter @thewalesreport.


Of all the policies being pursued by the coalition government at


Westminster, reform of welfare is proving to be highly controversial,


with changes to housing benefit heading the list. Experts and


campaigners claim they will have a brutal impact on some of the most


vulnerable families and households in Wales, with the to under-25's


facing some drastic change. In a moment, we'll be getting the view


of a leading Liberal Democrat, who's taking a keen interest in the


debate, but first David Williams examines the potential impact of


the changes. You have to seek work and take work or you will lose your


benefit. We are going to look at ending automatic access to housing


benefit for people under 25 as well. She shock and disbelief. I cannot


believe that any so-called government would put in something


that is so targeted at the most vulnerable in our society. Hard-


working young people have to live at home while they work and save,


so why should it be different for those who do not? We go from the


situation where we have a well- regarded system with good social


support, to a system which is forcing young people onto the


streets. This boy is 19 years of age and is one of 22,000 young


people in Wales on housing benefit. Last year he was thrown out of the


family home after a strained relationship with his mother came


to a head. He now lives and supported housing in Caerphilly and


is looking to move into his own property. He says he would have


ended up on the streets and unemployable under the current


plans. If I did not have housing benefits, I would be homeless and


then I could not get a job because you need an address. It is not a


lifestyle choice at all. Sitting around all day doing nothing. The


government might think I am lucky but I am not. He is not alone.


recent survey by the homeless charity said that 90 % of the young


people it helps are afraid of finding themselves homeless. With


nowhere to turn, if there housing benefits are scrapped. We work with


around 40,000 young people a year and they are reliant on housing


benefit to have a roof over their head because they're homeless. Or


there threatened with being homeless. If they had safe and


secure family homes to live in, that is where they would be. The is


change will not just affect single people. Nearly 45 % of under 25s


have received housing benefits and her appearance. This couple live in


a three-bedroomed house with their two children and received �320 a


week towards their rent. We as a happy family ex -- we are a happy


family! They struggled to make ends meet. I got made redundant. I had


to go to job seekers. We're now on the dole and cannot afford anything.


We have to rob Peter to give to Paul and then we have to take back


off Peter. In the 10 years I have worked, this is the longest I have


been out of work minus six months. If they withdraw housing benefit


there is nothing we can do but go on the streets. We're talking about


young families in. Not just individuals. This will affect them


just as much as individuals, without access to housing benefit


even when in employment, you need that additional support provided by


the state. Government spending has ballooned in the last decade on


housing benefits. This is predicted to rise to 25 billion by 2015. Of


this almost 2 million -- 2 billion is bent on the under 25. The


coalition government says enough is enough. We as people understand we


cannot allow the situation to remain as a tizz. The Government is


right to look at all aspects of spending. We have well duty to look


at welfare budget which has doubled. No proposals have been forthcoming


as yet. Protection is in the system for the most vulnerable. I do think


we have a responsibility to look at elements of government expenditure


which is as significant at �2 billion which is a third of the


Welsh NHS budget. The Department of work and pensions insists that


under the new proposals the Most Honourable will continue to receive


help. Experts in the field are not convinced. -- most vulnerable.


they would do is force people into a spiral of decline, where it


becomes so vulnerable that they can access support. That is not what we


want. It is still not clear whether the government will go ahead with


these proposals. Things may become clear in the Autumn Statement in


two weeks' time. In the meantime, those speaking out for young people


on the breadline her pleading with the Westminster Government to think


again. The Scothern says, do not worry, current claimants will not


be affected. -- his government says. I am delighted that those 4,000


will not be affected this year, but they will be affected the next year.


We are going to have a floods of of vulnerable people being made


vulnerable by this appalling policy decision. With me is Lord German of


the Liberal Democrats. A former Deputy First Minister in Cardiff


Bay, who's now chair of the Lib Dem parliamentary committee on work and


pensions. On the housing benefit chain, where do you stand? In his


is not a policy that the Liberal Democrat support. We're trying to


find savings again which will have to come into effect at another


round of savings already made. It is not a Liberal Democrat policy,


it is a Conservative proposal. The Liberal Democrats do not support


this proposal because of the hardship it will cause. I am


certain Liberal Democrats have made their position clear to the Deputy


Prime Minister that a blanket ban of this sort will not work. Think


of the sort of people we are trying to encourage back into work. People


need to have my ability, the need to go out and find a job. A lot are


finding part-time jobs and jobs which do not pay much, but they


have to travel for them. You have to help them with housing well


they're getting on the job market. You were careful to seek a blanket


ban, so at partial ban would be OK? No, I am saying we need to look at


the savings in the Budget which covers a whole raft of things.


There her to fundamentals about her welfare system, it has to act as a


safety net to protect the most vulnerable. Secondly, it has to


help people to help themselves - so in this case getting them back to


work. We have to find ways which do not affect those two principles and


find extra spending cuts somewhere else. Let us give a sense of the


work he had been doing in the last year. When you take your opposition


to this proposal to the Conservative members of the House


of Lords, what did they say? They say we need to find savings and I


accept that. The overall picture of our economy is not too bright. The


welfare budget is huge. We an already cutting as much as we are


cutting, the whole of the welfare budget has been cut from the


welfare budget. I understand we have to find more money, but we


have to find better solutions than blanket bans. Perhaps we should


hold benefits down to a late -- a level of wage increases? The sort


of thing which is acceptable, not nice but acceptable. It was saved


as much money as we are talking about. It comes to housing benefit


change, that is the one people have latched on to, if you have George


Osborne and colleagues insisting on this as a proposal that should be


enacted, what will he do? We will know more when we get to the Autumn


Statement. The debates in the next two weeks are all inside government


and about these issues. Is there any way you could back it in any


form? I do not think this is a proposal that Liberal Democrats


could support. I sense that my colleagues are saying that to me as


well. I have a feeling that this is a very big red line which it


Liberal Democrats will draw in the sand. Thank you very much. Lord


German there. Thanks. Don't forget to get in


touch with your thoughts on opinions - and tell us what you'd


like to see covered on the programme - email at


On the Wales Report tonight - who should run our schools? We speak to the education minister about his radical plans for reform. And could the UK Government's latest welfare proposals push more of Wales's young and vulnerable on to the streets?

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