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The Reports of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the state of Education in Wales. 1847

This report was published by three English university scholars into the educational system in Wales. The three were Lingen, Symons and Vaughan Johnson. The report unfairly drew attention to the inadequacy of Welsh education . One of their main points was that Welsh children , and often their teachers too, could not speak English. The report was produced in blue books, hence the name. Apart from , and because of, the understandable outrage of Welsh people the report helped to forge a  greater sense of national identity and the publication was referred to as "The Treachery of the Blue Books" [Brad y Llyfrau Gleison]. One of the principal Welshmen who fought a campaign against the report was Evan Jones , better known as Ieuan Gwynedd, a  minister and a journalist . One of the report's statements was that Welsh was a " peculiar language isolating the masses from the upper portion of society". Sadly, for the Welsh language, faced with such criticism many people did opt for an education in the English language despite the efforts of Ieuan Gwynedd and others. [ Based on an article in"A Helping Hand "by W J Jones 1996]

This is an extract by Aidan Jones from the actual Report as far as it relates to this parish;

LLANDEWI ABERARTH

Mrs. Wigley's Girls School.  I examined two of the classes in Mrs. Wigley's girls' school to-day and found the knowledge of the Scripture possessed by the first class very fair; they read the 2nd chapter of Exodus, and answered very nicely questions in the history of Moses as well as on the more important features of the Gospel scheme of salvation.  In New Testament history I obtained correct answers to questions I put, as to the history of St. Paul, the miracles, &c.  The younger children who read the 2nd chapter of St. Mark, could answer very little; and as usual, the lower classes were taught little else than to read and write, with the exception of sewing, which is an important feature in this school, and is found of much utility to the girls in after life.  Cyphering has been much neglected in this school.  Few of the children could answer simple questions, and none could read 460.  7x8=40.  Of the English language the knowledge appeared to be limited to the higher class and not perfectly understood by it.  The meaning of words such as "house," "palsy," were readily given; but "blasphemy," "perceive", and many others were not understood; none or two girls only having a perfect knowledge of the language.  The copybooks were highly creditable to the school; and the knowledge of spelling was also very good.  Of geography very little knowledge was possessed.  Of the Church Catechism the knowledge of the children was imperfect, though some of them repeated it correctly.  There is one peculiarity in this school which deserves notice.  The committee not only instruct but clothe the children. This is done from charitable motives, and likewise to procure an attendance of children, mostly belong to Dissenting parents.  It is a condition of attendance at this school that the children shall also attend the church on Sundays; and they assemble in the morning at the day schoolroom for that purpose.  The Sunday school, however, was not, at the time of my visit, in operation, and is therefore not included in the returns of Sunday schools.

J. C. S.   [Jelingar C Symons, the chief commissioner in Cardiganshire]

I visited to-day a school in the parish of Llanddewi Aberarth, situated near the parish church.   This schoolroom was erected about six years ago.   It is a very suitable room, fitted up with a full complement of desks and forms, and well lighted.  The master is an old man of 60 years of age.  He has the appearance of an intelligent man, and his neighbours speak well of him; but he is past the age for the office of an efficient teacher.  The scholars read very imperfectly, and spelt incorrectly.  They could not tell me who Moses, David, Solomon, nor Jesus Christ was.  They should not answer for what purpose He came into the world, nor what kind of death He died.  In answer to where he was born, they said at Calvary; and this was not a slip of the tongue, for I tried them individually in Welsh, and they said at Calvary; and they did not know any better.  In arithmetic they did not know how 20d., 30d., or 40d., is in shillings, &c., nor scarcely any part of the multiplication table.   In writing they were equally bad although the master had been a very decent writer.  Both the state of the scholars and the master was [sic] to be pitied: the former because their time is wasted with an apology for education, and the latter that he is obliged now, at his advanced age, to pursue an occupation which must be drudgery to him, for being engaged since he was 24 years of age as a teacher, he can do nothing else to earn a living.  I could find neither the Incumbent nor his Curate in the parish.

November 25th 1846.  Signed HENRY PENRY, Assistant.

[ PS - there is a report on the Aberayron British Day School on the Llanddeinol parish pages.]

 

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