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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;

YSPYTTY YSTWYTH.

I visited again today the parish of Yspytty Ystwyth.

I examined the day school. The building in which it is held was erected by the Lead Mining Company, whose works are close to it. It is a long narrow building, four times as long as it is broad. It is well lighted and ventilated, and would be more convenient for two rooms for a master and an assistant, or two masters, better than for one.

The school is conducted upon no system, nor has the master been trained, but the principal persons connected with these works are anxious that the master should be able to teach efficiently. They therefore wish him to see other schools at Aberystwyth and elsewhere that he may improve his own.

The reading of the highest class was tolerable; two or three of the girls, daughters of some of the agents connected with the works, read very well, and the knowledge of Scripture evinced by these scholars, was more correct and extensive than what was manifested at the National school I examined yesterday. But in this school the pupils did not seem as if they were in the habit of being questioned, and having explanations given, of which they do not understand. The writing was below that I saw yesterday at Hafod, and was about the usual grade in similar schools. The arithmetical attainments were only of a low degree; none were higher than the first elementary rules, 7 x 8 and 5 x 7 could not be answered. 90d. was said to be 5s and 100d was said to be 5s. Too little attention seems to he paid to arithmetic. The only things aimed at seem to be to be reading the Bible and spelling long columns of words, without any attempt to understand anything about either exercise than the mere mechanical performance of both. Of grammar no one knew the parts of speech. The progress made by the lower classes, and the plan pursued in teaching, or rather the no-plan adopted to confuse and retard, was just the same as usual, and requires no notice.

November 19th 1846 (Signed) HENRY PENRY, Assistant.

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(Gareth Hicks)

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