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Help and advice for Reports of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the state of Education in Wales. 1847

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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;


On December 18th I visited the above parish; I found there a most excellent schoolroom, only just finished, which the Vicar of the parish was kind enough to show me. It was built partly by subscriptions raised by the clergyman of the parish, and partly by a grant of 52l. from the Committee of Council on Education. The room was 32ft. long by 18ft. wide, and 15ft high: it was lighted by three large glazed windows in front, and one at each end; the school furniture, already prepared, consisted of three desks and nine benches. There had no school been opened in the above schoolroom, but the Vicar of the parish calculated upon having one of Mrs. Bevan's masters to open one there before the end of January.

In consequence of there being no schoolroom whatever in the parish, I collected a few children, whom I examined in presence of the Rev. Josiah Rees, the Vicar of the same parish ; there were seven boys, ages from 7 to 12, and three girls, aged 10, 11, and 16. They had all, except one of the girls, been to a day school; five of the boys could read, one of whom one could read both English and Welsh; there was only one of the girls that could read, and that was in Welsh. They read the l9th chapter of St. Matthew, which one boy did tolerably well, but all the rest in a most wretched manner. I gave them the following words, most of which they could neither spell nor give the meaning of. Healed - wrong; beginning - right in the meaning only ; grief - wrong ; twain -wrong; writing - wrong; honour - wrong; heard - wrong; disciples right in the meaning and spelling of it; neighbour - wrong.

I gave them some questions, to which I had the following answers:- Adam and Eve were placed in the garden of Eden, from which they were cast out because of sin; did not know what the sin was. They had two sons only; Cain slew Abel, because God looked upon his offering. Did not know what the offering of either consisted of. Noah made an ark before the deluge. Did not know how many persons were saved in it, how long the deluge lasted, or where the ark rested. Knew nothing of the history of the Israelites in Egypt, or of their journey through the wilderness. Plagues in Egypt - did not know their number, or what any of them were. A Prophet's office is to preach; did not know how; whether they preach anything to come, or what is past. Knew the names of none of them. Christ was born at Nazareth, Jerusalem, one only said Bethlehem which he thought was a country. Christ is the son of Joseph and Mary Magdalene, from whom Christ cast out seven (some said twelve) devils. Christ was crucified; did not know by whom. Christ was betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, both of whom were of the twelve Apostles whom he appointed to preach the gospel. There were miracles wrought by Christ and the Apostles. Could not mention any. Why did Christ die? - To save sinners. In order to be saved we must pray for grace. Did not know what grace meant. Christ was crucified on Mount Calvary - Did not know where that was.

Four quarters of the globe. They lived in Africa. Ireland and France were towns. Did not know where, or whether they were far or near. Victoria reigns over Wales only. Right as to the number of months, weeks, and days in a Year. Knew the day and the month.

Three of the boys had been learning the first rules of arithmetic, but it was some time since they left school. 2 x 8 = 16; 3 x 3 = 9; 3 x 9 = 27; 4 x 8 = 32; 6 x 6 = 32; 6 x 9 = 54; 7 x 7 = 46; 8 x 7 = 52; 8 x 9 = 72; 9 x 6 = 54; 9 x 9 = 81; 4 x 14 = 56; 6 x 18 = 104; 8 x 18 = 0; 24d = 2s; 35d. = 2s. 9d; 40d. = 3s 4d; 56d. = 4s 6d.; 80d = 6s. 8d.; 96d. = 7s.8d; 144d. = 12s; 170d. = 15s.; 4 quarts = 1 gallon; 2 pints = 1 quart. Inches in a foot, no answer; 3 feet = 1 yard; did not know how many yards made a mile.

(Signed) D. B. PRICE, Assistant.

After making diligent enquiries in the parish of Llangranog, I found only the following schools, viz. One Church Sunday school, and two Baptist ones; no day school in the parish.

(Signed) D. B. PRICE, Assistant [1846]


(Gareth Hicks)