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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;

LLANLWCHAIARN

Calvinist Methodist Sunday School. I visited to-day the New Quay in the parish of Llanlwchaiarn, and examined the Calvinistic Methodist Sunday School. This was the largest, and the others are scattered at some distance from the village, and meeting nearly at the same time, that I was unable to see and examine any other.

After taking a general survey of the whole school, I went to a class of elderly men, chiefly sailors; I found them reading in turns, and afterwards questioning one another upon any word or sentence that was not fully understood by the interrogator. I went next to the youngest class, of boys, and they answered me very well in Welsh the meaning of the little words they were reading. I went next to a class of young men, about 20 years of age, and examined them as to what they knew of the history of Abraham, part of which had been read by the class, and the answers to my questions were generally very satisfactory, and promptly given.

I next examined a class of young women, about 20 years of age, on the life and character of Moses, part of which had been read by the class, and they answered me very correctly. I asked what lesson for our guidance was furnished by the life of Moses, &c., and one answered that Moses the lawgiver will not lead us to Canaan, but we must have Joshua which is the same as Jesus, to conduct us to the spiritual Canaan; the Law does but condemn, and the Gospel can alone give pardon and peace, I lastly examined a class of lads, from 12 to 14 Years of age, on the life of Jesus Christ, and the design of his coming into the world, and I obtained very proper replies. Everything appeared to be well managed by a superintendent, who is a superannuated officer, connected with this port, under the Government, assisted by an active and intelligent secretary; and all the teachers appeared to be instructing with assiduity, as if their heart was in the work.

December 6th, 1846. HENRY PENRY, Assistant.

I visited a day school to-day, held at Zion Chapel, belonging to the Wesleyans, in the parish of Llanlwchaiarn, near New Quay. This chapel is not pewed, and it is well lighted and suitable for a schoolroom if properly furnished with desks, &c. A class read to me a lesson in the Gospel by St. Mark very imperfectly, but spelled the words of the lesson very correctly. They understood nothing of what was read by them, and they could scarcely answer me any question as to where Jesus Christ was born, how he saved sinners by his death, and what is a sinner, &c. The writing was carelessly done, and the books were slovenly kept. Arithmetic was tolerably well taught for I obtained answers to questions upon this subject promptly and correctly. In English grammar, which was professedly taught, not one scholar knew the parts of speech. The master appeared rather an intelligent man, and had been engaged for many years as a teacher, but he is paid so very little for his labour that he seems to have lost his spirit and energy for the duties. An Independent minister, the Rev. Themes Rees, and a freeholder, named Mr. Jones of Pennllwyn, accompanied me here. I left a schedule for the Wesleyan Sunday school with the master here, as he is the principal person connected with it.

December 7th, 1846. (Signed) HENRY PENRY, Assistant

New Quay School - I visited to-day a day school at New Quay, in the parish of Llanlwchaiarn, conducted by Mr. Evan Williams. The schoolroom, which has been recently built by Mr. Williams, is a well-lighted, dry, and convenient building for a school; the only defect belonging to it is, that it is rather too low. It was well filled with orderly scholars.

The highest class read to me a lesson out of Enfield's Speaker very correctly, and spelled the most difficult words without a mistake, but they could explain scarcely any word in the lesson, such as "language", "emotion", "passion", "gesture", "orator", which occurred in it. The lesson was a very instructive one, on reading and public speaking, but they did not seem to have even a general notion of the subject, which, if understood, would help and improve their reading. I heard another class reading in Murray's Introduction, and another in the New Testament. The reading in all these classes was superior to most of what I have heard in this county; it only wanted more attention to the intonation of the voice and the proper placing of the emphasis to constitute it good reading. But in the understanding of the meaning of words in their connexion in a sentence, and a comprehension of the general scope and import of the subject, the scholars were as deficient as in most other schools.

The writing was very clean, and, in most instances tolerably well executed. In arithmetic the scholars had made considerable progress, and they knew the arithmetical table very correctly, and seemed to understand something of the principles of it as a science, as well as dexterity in performing questions in it as an art. In English grammar four or five of the pupils parsed a sentence very correctly, and recited the rules of Syntax required in the exercise very readily. Though I was told several had gone through Pinnock's Catechism of Geography, they didn't possess anything like a correct knowledge of the situation of seas, towns, or countries, as they had no maps to assist them in their study of it. More attention to rigid interrogation, familiar and accurate expression of terms, accompanied with illustrations by pictures, maps, diagrams, &c., would soon make this a very efficient school, for the master is not wanting in ability, nor in the tact and good nature required to make an effective and successful teacher.

The Rev. D. Thomas, the Independent minister of the several chapels in this locality, accompanied me to this school, and was present during the examination.

December 7th, 1846 HENRY PENRY, Assistant.

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(Gareth Hicks)

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