The future with Chris Hipkins as education minister?

Toby Young blogs The Telegraph about PISA and Wales (note this is a major news media outlet with “bloggers”):

The poor showing of Wales in the Pisa international league tables published earlier this week is a reminder of just what a mess Labour has made of the Welsh education system. In 2006, Welsh schoolchildren were ranked 30th in maths, 29th in reading and 22nd in science. In the latest tests, they fell to 43rd in maths, 41st in reading and 36th in science. Wales isn’t simply the worst performer in the UK, it’s well below the OECD average.

The blame for this pitiful state of affairs can be laid squarely at the feet of the Labour Party, which has been in charge of education in Wales since 1999. The education reforms that successive governments have introduced in other parts of the UK in that time have left Wales largely untouched. League tables were abolished in 2001 and not a single academy or free school has been set up. As the Economist points out in this damning analysis, parental choice in Wales is limited to deciding whether to send a child to a school where lessons are taught in English or Welsh. The country has indulged in what David Reynolds, an educationalist at the University of Southampton, describes as “producerism’s last hurrah”. Hardly surprising, then, that 26 per cent of the Welsh population over 16 have no recognised qualifications, according to the 2011 census

Gee that is the same as what Labour here suggests…removing parental choice by opposing charter schools, opposing national standards and th resulting league tables and cosying up to unions.

Wales isn’t any better in Health either.

But education isn’t the only devolved area that the Welsh National Assembly, which has been Labour-controlled since 2000, has messed up. The Welsh health system is, incredibly, even worse than the Welsh education system. As the Prime Minister pointed out in the House of Commons earlier this year, the Welsh NHS hasn’t met a cancer target since 2008 or an A&E target since 2009. (FactCheck confirmed the first of these claims here.) The picture is no better when it comes to waiting lists. Between March and September of this year, the number of patients waiting more than nine months for treatment in Wales more than doubled, increasing from 5,414 to 11,672. The Welsh Ambulance Service has failed to hit its target of responding to 65 per cent of the most urgent calls within eight minutes for the past 16 months.

Unsurprisingly the civil service is the only growth area in the Welsh economy.

The only areas in which the Welsh pay their population share of taxes are in cider, beer and tobacco taxes. While the Welsh economy is growing, it’s projected to grow more slowly than any other region in the UK, according to this report.

That could be because 25.7 per cent of all people employed in Wales work in the public sector, the second highest proportion of any region in the UK. To put this in perspective, 16.9 per cent are employed in the public sector in the South East, 16.7 per cent in the East and 16.9 per cent in London. The GDP per capita in Wales is below the OECD average (though not as below average as its Pisa ranking) and its productivity is lower than in any other country in the UK.

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