Playing Politics?

Christopher Harries

On Gwydir yesterday, James Wallice wrote about findings from an international study which revealed low levels of well- being amongst children in Wales. 

Wallice argued that the findings were a ‘nothing short of a national disgrace’ and apportioned responsibility to one institution namely the Welsh Government. But on this occasion is the Welsh Government solely responsible?

However much the paternalists in Cardiff Bay may aspire to be solely responsible for the children of Wales, this is thankfully not the case. The Gwydir article seems to be apportioning sole responsibility for the well-being of children to the Welsh Government, yet as the author acknowledged his own well- being was impacted by parents, peers and teachers.

The well- being of children is more complicated than just who is in government. The report authors clearly though so hence they asked the children surveyed questions concerning factors like home and family life, friendships and school. 

Wallice apportioned blame to the Welsh Government and by extension the Labour Party, yet the report pointed out well- being in children has declined across the UK since 2009. Would Wallice apply the same judgement to the UK Government and by extension the Conservative Party? I suspect there might be reticence to apply such a conclusion.

The author also highlighted the hypocrisy of Sir Keir Starmer criticising the UK Governments approach to the grading of A- Levels, but is Wallice leaving himself exposed to the same charge?

Of course, the author is right to highlight some of the failings that can be attributed to the Welsh Government such as PISA results and the recent exam results debacle. Yet it seems a stretch to add low levels of well- being amongst children in Wales to the list of failings by the Welsh Government, of course the report highlights some of the factors affecting well- being are clearly impacted by government policy and failings. While indicative of wider issues, we should not totally exclude the impact of parents, teachers and peers on the well- being of a child which is what the author did in the third paragraph.

The Welsh Government should be scrutinised and held to account for its failings. We should, however, resist the urge to try and politicise every report. 

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