Wales (NLW Journals) Contents
Wynford Davies. National Library of Wales journal, Vol XXIII/1, Summer 1983.
Extracted onto the pages of GENUKI with the kind permission of the National Library of Wales
This is a complete extract of this article [Gareth Hicks August 2003].
ONE evening early in March, 1890, a public meeting was held at Narberth Board School. The chair was occupied by Mr. R. Ward, J.P. of Sodstone, the local County Councillor, and a number of gentlemen prominent in public life were present, including the Rev. Sirhowy Jones, an independent minister, the Rev. Ben Thomas, a Baptist minister, the Rev. A. N. F. Keogh, Rector of Ludchurch, Mr. R. H. Buckley, J.P., Chairman of the Board of Guardians, Dr. H. P. Price, and Mr. R. G. Lewis of Llawhaden. All spoke in favour of a motion which was carried unanimously, viz.,
That this meeting of the inhabitants of the town and district of Narberth rejoice in the recent legislation on the intermediate question and respectfully calls the attention of the Pembrokeshire Joint Committee to the facilities offered by the town of Narberth as the centre of a large, influential and important district, for the establishment of one of the county intermediate schools. 1
The 'recent legislation' referred to in this resolution was the Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1889 and it was not without significance for Narberth that the Chairman of the Joint Education Committee was the Rev. Lewis James of Brynbank, Lampeter Velfrey. When the foundation stone of the Narberth County Intermediate School was laid in September, 1895, the Rev. Lewis James presided, and pointed out that the new school would give instruction in English, Mathematics, Modern Languages, Classics, Elementary Science, and Scripture, and that it would be largely technical in character and would give prominence to agricultural education. Mr. Ward, one of the school's earliest benefactors, underlined the need for something more than elementary education so that the country could compete more effectively in dairy aid agricultural production as well as in heavy industry against the competing nations of Western Europe and America. 2 Underlying the establishment of the new Intermediate schools was, indeed, something more than a belated attempt to provide improved educational opportunity for middle-class children; there was also involved a deliberate strategy to offset increasing foreign competition in industry and commerce. Not that the new schools were ventured upon without long and painstaking discussion and thought. In planning and development they raised issues which exercised the Victorians in their day no less than many of precisely the same issues remain a matter of debate in ours.
Let us turn for a moment to some of these background questions. For example, what should secondary schools teach? For whom should they be provided? Which would be preferable, a relatively small number of large schools or a large number of small schools? Until the middle of the nineteenth century both the major English public schools and the endowed day and boarding grammar schools in England and Wales had confined their teaching essentially to the classics and mathematics. A boy at Haverfordwest Grammar School a little over a century ago would have spent an ..............
............................ hour on Monday morning on Scripture and the remainder of the morning and every other morning of the week on Latin and Greek grammar and composition, and every afternoon on Arithmetic and Mathematics. Lessons in History, Geography, possibly French, a little theoretical Science, and English would be fitted in at odd moments. This traditional classical education reached its perfection in the great schools of England, Eton, Winchester, Harrow, Rugby, Westminster, Charterhouse, St. Paul's, Merchant Taylor's, and Shrewsbury, and in the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge. These institutions provided the educational background of the country's rulers in the nineteenth century but that background contrasted markedly with the vast social and economic changes which had taken place in Britain between 1750 and 1850, as exemplified, for instance, in the Great Exhibition of 1851 and Britain's pre-eminent position as the workshop of the world. In the high noon of laissez-faire Britain the country's rulers felt no inclination to interfere unduly in industrial affairs. Time was to show, nevertheless, that the circumstances were largely fortuitous. If, for example, Britain in 1879 produced more steel than Germany, France, and Belgium combined, in 1886 American and in 1893 German steel production surpassed British. The increasing severity of international competition was, indeed, well understood when the foundation stone of Narberth Intermediate School was laid in 1895.
The Victorians knew, of course, that Germany, the U.S.A., France, and Switzerland had vastly superior facilities for secondary and technical education. It was because of the contrast between the traditional classical education of English schools and the country's need to compete effectively in science, technology, and commerce, all over the world, that they set afoot two major enquiries into the management and curriculum first of the great public schools and then of every endowed grammar school in England and Wales. The Clarendon Report in 1864 and the Taunton Report in 1868 urged the need to adapt the curriculum of the schools to the needs of the day and spelt out in detail the range of subjects equivalent in all respects to that which in the twentieth century became the normal curriculum of grammar schools. Special emphasis was laid on the inclusion of modern languages, practical Mathematics, science and drawing, and there was an explicit statement:
Nor would it be wise in a country whose continued prosperity so greatly depends on its ability to maintain its pre-eminence in manufactures, to neglect the application of natural science to the industrial arts or overlook the importance of promoting the study of it, even in a special way, among its artisans. 3
There was no intention to jettison the existing classical curriculum. There was no intention that all the new subjects recommended in 1864 and 1868 should be included in the curriculum of all secondary schools. For there was a social class dimension in the recommendations. Society was seen as structured in three tiers, aristocracy, middle class, and what the Victorians termed the 'labouring classes'. In England, the middle class was sub-divided into upper middle, and lower echelons, ...............
.......................... reflected in the first, second, and third class compartments on passenger trains. The upper middle class, wealthy through possession of land or success in trade and industry, could afford to send their sons to a major public school. The middle echelon of the middle class, landed gentry, professional and business people, might opt for either the classical education of the major public schools or an education geared more to the requirements of business or specific professions, and the latter might involve leaving school at about 16 and might also be available in the 'modern sides' of public schools of nineteenth century foundation such as Cheltenham, Marlborough, or Clifton. The lower middle class, clerks and artisans or small tenant farmers, for example, might not be able to maintain their sons in school beyond the age of 14 but nevertheless wished for something more than the education provided at the Elementary school. The Victorians therefore thought of secondary schools in three grades, related to the aspirations of parents for their children and their ability to pay tuition and boarding fees for fulltime education to age 18/19 in schools of the first grade, or to age 16/17 in schools of the second grade, or to age 14 in schools of the third grade. And curriculum was directly related to the grade of school. Despite the recommendations that the major public schools should include some modern subjects in their curriculum, they remained essentially classical schools and it was only in these schools and other schools of the same character which provided an education to age 18/19 that it was thought that Greek could be included in the curriculum. It was maintained that only by staying in school until age 18/19 could a boy derive benefit from the study of a full classical course. Latin could be included in schools of the second grade together with a number of other subjects which it was thought could be beneficially studied up to the age of 16 and could form a foundation either for entry to the world of work or further study at an appropriate institution of higher education. In schools of the third grade, what was required according to one Victorian clergyman was 'very good reading, very good writing, and very good Arithmetic', but to these were added History, Geography Elementary Mathematics, Nature Study, and the rudiments of either Latin or a modern foreign language, Religious Instruction and Games.
Welsh society at the end of the nineteenth century was not as rigidly class-ridden as English society; there was certainly not the wealth in Wales to sustain a prosperous middle class. There was nevertheless some consciousness of social class and in their visits to every part of Wales in the autumn of 1880 the members of the Aberdare Committee strove to persuade the witnesses who appeared before them to accept the English criteria for the division of secondary schools into three grades. The committee doubted whether Wales could sustain more than six schools of the first grade and they thought that a few large schools with hostel provision would be preferable to a proliferation of small schools over the Principality. In consideraing the needs of Wales in Higher Education the committee was at pains to discuss with witnesses whether any new colleges should in effect be little more than tertiary colleges, taking their students from the proposed Intermediate schools at 16 for courses ending at age 20 with a minority of students with University aspirations passing on to ................
....................... Oxford and Cambridge. This would mean that only from the proposed six schools of the first grade could boys proceed directly from school to university. It also meant that for schools of the second grade there could be no development of a Sixth Form. 4
It was against this background that the new Intermediate School at Narberth, like all other Welsh Intermediate schools, developed during the first quarter of the twentieth century. The school opened in temporary premises on 15 January, 1895, two days before the Intermediate School at Fishguard. Permanent buildings followed fairly quickly at Narberth and were opened in June, 1896. The school was visited by Owen Edwards, Chief Inspector, on 20 June, 1910, and he described the school and its surrounds in terms which could apply to this day:
A good stone building on a hillock halfway between the station and the town, commanding very fine views of hills and valleys. The school buildings have been completed by the addition of a kitchen and a Manual Work Room ... there is a really fine playground, with a good cricket pitch. A neighbouring field also belongs to the school; it is not very level, but football can be played in it ... 5
The Pembrokeshire Scheme under the Welsh Intermediate Education Act was approved by the Queen in Council on 30 April, 1894. It divided the county into eight secondary school districts based on the parishes of the Poor Law Unions. Of the eight districts, that of Pembroke Dock, at this time the centre of a flourishing Royal Naval Dockyard, was the largest with a population of 23,000. The next district in size was Narberth, based on all the Pembrokeshire parishes of the Narberth Union excepting the parish of East Williamston and the southern part of the parish of St Issells, and with a total population of. 12,000. The Cardigan district had a population of 10,000; Milford and Tenby, a population of 8,000 each, and Fishguard and St. David's, 6,000 each. These population figures were highly significant for the future development of the schools for they determined the level of grants paid by the county authority, the County Governing Body until 1904 and the County Education Authority thereafter, under the provisions of the Pembrokeshire Scheme.
Thus, of the grants available, Pembroke Dock received 31.43%, Narberth 16.43%, Cardigan 13.69%, Tenby and Milford 10.95%, and Fishguard and St. David's 8.21%. This arrangement placed Narberth in an advantageous financial position as compared with other Pembrokeshire schools of similar pupil numbers, but there was considerable poverty in the area which may well have justified some exceptional treatment. 6 The district was undoubtedly fortunate that it had influential representatives in the corridors of power at Haverfordwest in the persons of the Rev. Lewis James, Chairman of the Joint Education Committee and of the County Governing Body until 1904, and Alderman W. Palmer Morgan in the years following.
At no time was Narberth one of the large schools recommended by the Aberdare Committee. Under the Scheme it was intended in the first instance to provide for 8o pupils (50 boys and 30 girls). It began in 1895 with a roll of 41 pupils (28 boys ...................
.......................... and 13 girls). In the following year the roll went up to 50, but for the next ten years varied between 35 and 70. A roll of 85 was recorded in 1907 (38 boys and 47 girls) with a progression to 122 (57 boys and 65 girls) in 1910. There was then a decline to below the hundred mark in most years until 1920 when numbers increased steadily to reach 130 in 1924. Numbers at neighbouring Intermediate schools were not dissimilar. There had been some talk in the early 1890's of establishing a joint school to serve Whitland and Narberth akin to the joint schools at Cardigan and at Llandysul. Neither Narberth nor Whitland was, however, disposed to give precedence to the other, so that at Whitland also, only a few miles from Narberth, another small Intermediate school was established.
Nothing came, either, of the Aberdare Committee's idea that hostels might be provided for children who could not conveniently travel to school daily. Instead, it was typical of rural Intermediate schools that a large proportion of their pupils stayed in lodgings, between a quarter and a third at Narberth. It was notable at Narberth that many of the pupils in lodgings were Welsh-speaking children from the area north of the landsker, whereas most of the pupils in the school, some three-quarters of them, were English-speaking pupils from the town and the area south of the language line. One old pupil, at the school in the early 1900's, thought that he and his fellow Welsh-speaking contemporaries were 'second-class Citizens' at Narberth. Another old pupil referred to the school as 'an alien environment' for Welsh-speaking children; town children, he said, looked coldly on the Welsh, and even some teachers derided their Welshness. 7
Most pupils attending the Intermediate schools had to pay tuition fees but Narberth charged the lowest fees in Pembrokeshire, £3. 6. 0 (including stationery, but £1. 11. 6 extra for Music), increased to £4. 10. 0 in 1922. This compared with a fee of £6. 0. 0 at Tenby, lowered to £4. 6. 0 between 1914 and 1920, but raised again to £6. 0. 0 after 1920. More typical was the tuition fee at Fishguard, £4. 7. 6 in the early years and increased to £4. 10. 0 in 1911. In common with Narberth, the school at Whitland also charged low fees, £3. 0. 0 between 1895 and 1905 and £4. 0. 0 thereafter.
That Narberth could charge such low tuition fees stemmed partly from its favourable grant position and this had other beneficial effects on the school. In most rural Intermediate schools the salaries of assistant teachers were so low that there were inevitably frequent staff changes as teachers left to improve their lot. But at Narberth assistant teachers were better paid than at any other Intermediate School in the county apart from that at Pembroke Dock. The following comparisons will illustrate the point. In 1896, the two assistant teachers at Narberth were paid respectively £120 and £100; at Fishguard the salaries were £85 and £80. In 1910, five assistant teachers at Narberth were paid respectively £160, £130, £120, £130 and £120. In the same year salaries of three assistants at Fishguard were respectively £120, £110, and £85, and at Tenby £155, £110, £100, and £85. In 1923, salaries of assistant teachers at Narberth ranged from £460 to £310, at Fishguard from £320 to £260. and at Tenby from £420 to £255. The result of this was that despite .............
................. some staff changes from time to time Narberth had a relatively stable body of assistant teachers. This was true also of the Intermediate School at Pembroke Dock which could equally well pay reasonable salaries. At Narberth, as at Pembroke Dock, the school was served by well qualified and able teachers. The Central Welsh Board Annual Inspection Report of 1903 said:
Good discipline, and regular, orderly work were observable; throughout the school, the pupils seemed to be very attentive and anxious to learn: and Head Master and staff were much in earnest. The staff of teachers is thoroughly efficient; they are masters of their subjects, and as zealous in teaching as in maintaining discipline. Excellent work was being done under careful supervision in Geometry, Algebra, Arithmetic and Chemistry: with judicious intermixture of collective and individual work and constant use of the blackboard. Great care was being taken with the pronunciation of French, in which conversational methods are employed.
It is evident from this report that the school was well-staffed on the Arts and Science sides. The Science teacher at Narberth was also the Senior Master. One of these was Abel J. Jones. He was on the staff for a comparatively short period in 1904-05, but his Headmaster made a tremendous impression on him. Later in his career Abel J. Jones became a member of the Welsh Inspectorate and it is to him that we owe a biography of John Morgan, first Headmaster of Narberth Intermediate School. T. R. Francis followed Abel J. Jones as Science master and, apart from his war service, stayed at the school and succeeded John Morgan as Headmaster in 1924.
The curriculum of the school was, of course, based on that laid down in the County Scheme which stemmed from Clause 17 of the Welsh Intermediate Act, 1889, and included in addition to Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, Geography, History, English, Drawing, Mathematics, Latin, French, Science, Vocal Music, Drill, Domestic Subjects for girls, and Manual Instruction for boys, although not all these subjects could be provided immediately, or taught equally efficiently, because of difficulties of staffing and accommodation. There is only one reference in the records of the school to a pupil taking Greek as a subject and this at the sub Junior level in 1900. Indeed, the only school in Pembrokeshire to include Greek on the regular time-table was Haverfordwest Grammar School and even there it was taken by only a minority of the boys. Narberth had a Science course which included Chemistry to Senior Certificate level and Physics to junior Certificate. Welsh was not an obligatory subject under the County Scheme and was taught at Narberth only in Form 1. When the Welsh Department of the Board of Education queried this in 1911, the Clerk of the Governors wrote:
In regard to the teaching of Welsh in this school ... I beg to state that the Headmaster sometime ago conferred with the Governors in the matter and they considered that as the great majority of the scholars are from the English speaking part of the District there was no occasion for introducing the language of Welsh as a subject to be taught in the school to Forms above Form I, which would practically mean the exclusion of the subjects of Latin and French. 8
The first Central Welsh Board Report on the school in 1897 said that a majority of the pupils were children of farmers and tradesmen, that is, children of that middle class for which the school had originally been intended. But as the years went by and as the number of scholarships tenable at the school increased there was an appreciable increase in the number of children of working class parents. But parents of both classes took time to realise that a secondary education was not to be gained in one year or even two. It was, indeed, for many years characteristic of the school at Narberth as of many other Intermediate schools particularly in rural areas that, as B. B. Skirrow, H.M.I., said in 1903:
Pupils do not as a rule enter school early enough or stay long enough. 9
The Central Welsh Board Report for 1898 said:
The School is greatly hampered by the early withdrawal of the pupils. There were 45 pupils on the School Roll in July, 1897; between that Term and April of the present year, there were as many as 29 withdrawals. Under these circumstances, it is a wonder that the School is able to do such good work.
As late as 1922 the Welsh Department of the Board of Education pointed out to the Governors that during the school year 1920-21 no fewer than 70.2% of the pupils had left under the age of sixteen years and that if there was no improvement there was a danger that the school might lose its entitlement to grant under the Regulations for Secondary Schools. 10 But, as W. J. Williams, H.M.I., commented, the school provided the only avenue in what he described as 'a poor and badly organised (as regarded travelling facilities) neighbourhood for education after 14 and the Governors were inclined to be benevolent towards parents who wished to send their children to the Intermediate school for some further education'. The reason for early withdrawal was undoubtedly poverty, but parents showed that they were prepared to suffer real sacrifice if a son or daughter did well at school. 11
In the circumstances it is understandable that the school should have been eager to ensure that pupils should not leave without some evidence of Intermediate education. This accounts in part at least for the emphasis on examination results and certificates which earned the strictures of Owen Edwards, the Chief Inspector, when he referred to 'a crowded time-table of examination subjects' and 'a keen and unwholesome rivalry between Narberth and Whitland, and to some extent between Narberth and Tenby, for Examination results'. 12 It may account, too, for the fact that in its first thirty years the school did not normally teach beyond London or Welsh Matriculation or the Senior Certificate of the Central Welsh Board. During John Morgan's headship only four pupils gained Honours Certificates, Kathleen Baylis and May Anna Edwards in 1901-02, Thomas Benjamin Wheeler in 1904-05, and Waldo Williams in 1923. But between 1895 and 1923 no fewer than 221 Junior Certificates and 195 Senior Certificates were gained. A number of pupils proceeded after Senior Certificate stage to one of the University Colleges and sometimes thereafter to Oxford or Cambridge and other universities. In this as in other respects............
........... Narberth was a school of the second grade as envisaged by the late Victorians; the school was, indeed, an amalgam of schools of second and third grade. Despite its difficulties and shortcomings, the school raised some notable pupils. To mention but four of them, Thomas Benjamin Wheeler obtained the Honours Certificate with distinction in English and French, graduated with first class Honours in both these languages, became a Fellow of the University of Wales, and eventually Chief Education Officer for the County of Middlesex; Roger Thomas left school for Aberystwyth, gained a first class honours degree in Botany, and went on to a career of distinction as an agricultural adviser in India and Mesopotamia, becoming a member of the cabinet of the government of Sind in 1944 and a Knight in 1947; William Thomas took his Senior Certificate in 1908, went on to Aberystwyth to take a first class honours degree in Chemistry and, after war service, doctorates of three universities, eventually becoming Chief Inspector of Schools in Wales; Waldo Williams, a pupil at Narberth in John Morgan's last years as Headmaster, distinguished himself at school and college and became one of Wales' best loved modern poets.
No survey of the early years of Narberth Intermediate School could possibly omit reference to John Morgan, M.A. (Cantab.), described on his tombstone in Narberth churchyard as 'A Man beloved, a Man Elect of Men'. He was born in 1862, the youngest child of a large family, all of whom except himself died young. He lost both father and mother when still a baby and he was brought up by two aunts on the Carmarthenshire / Pembrokeshire border. He was educated at private schools in Narberth and St. Clears before proceeding to the Presbyterian College at Carmarthen where it was intended he should prepare himself for the Congregational ministry. His health was never good and a soaking in a rainstorm during his Presbyterian College days resulted in a chronically weak chest. Later in life he was to suffer from phlebitis and painful abcesses and towards the end of his life he used to tutor some of his pupils from his sick-bed. From Carmarthen he went to Cambridge as a non-collegiate student and there, despite his poor health, he graduated in Honours in Theology. In 1888, at the age of twenty-six and after a short stay in Australia where he had his first experience of teaching, he opened a private grammar school in Narberth. This school was attended by about thirty boys from a wide area around and John Morgan taught every subject in the curriculum except Physics, for which he said there was no demand. He was appointed Headmaster of the Narberth Intermediate School in 1895. When his biographer knew him, some ten years later, he was a tall, dignified man with piercing eyes and a prominent Adam's apple, bearing on his features the ravages of the ill-health which affected him throughout his life.
H.M. Inspectors who visited the school did not quite know what to make of John Morgan. One of them thought that an excellent and well-paid staff made up for a relatively weak Head. The same Inspector thought that there was very little corporate life in the school, that little was done for pupils in lodgings, and was critical that there was no provision for a school dinner or for the comfort of pupils who brought sandwiches. 13
There was undoubtedly force in these criticisms of a lack of concern for the pastoral welfare of his pupils, but John Morgan had redeeming qualities. He said quite frankly that he had no gift for organisation or school discipline. He left these matters to his Senior Master. As far as class control was concerned, John Morgan was manifestly a Christian thrown to the lions. He never understood that children could often be a good deal less than angelic and that to counter their stratagems he must, as Abel Jones suggested to him, have some part of the devil in himself, too. But he was a man completely innocent of guile, engrossed in his own scholarly interests. It never occurred to him that some of the pupils who tormented him quite mercilessly might not have the same interests. His classes, especially in the middle school, were shouting matches between teacher and pupils.
Yet, he left an enduring impression on generations of Narberth boys and girls. He was a scholar, steeped in Biblical knowledge, in English Literature, and in History. It was said that he knew the New Testament word for word in English and in Greek. He had a scholarly knowledge of Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, and of the nineteenth century novelists, especially Walter Scott. His lessons in English and History appear to have been an unco-ordinated but vivid series of dramatised episodes. He was fond of striking poses and asking his pupils, 'Who am I?', so that they almost came to believe that John Morgan himself had 'hurried to the coffee house to read the essays of Steele and Addison when they first appeared, and had with Johnson and Boswell taken his ease at his inn'. He was obviously at his best with his more advanced pupils and he was most generous in remedying out of his own pocket the woeful inadequacies of the school library. Despite his weakness as a disciplinarian, John Morgan was a much loved teacher and a legend in his own lifetime. In retrospect his pupils remembered not only the tricks they had played upon him. They remembered, too, the range of his intellectual interests and his seemingly inexhaustible knowledge of language, literature, and history. 14
In conclusion, let it be said that despite all the difficulties the Intermediate School at Narberth encountered, it did provide that general education enjoined in Clause 17 of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act, 1889, and set forth in the Pembrokeshire Scheme. But public opinion during its first thirty years and later doubted whether the school fulfilled that aim of providing a means of technical education which had been one of the declared objectives of the Act of 1889 and of the school's founders. Not that the Victorians themselves were entirely clear on what they meant by 'technical education'. T. H. Huxley, in an address he gave in 1877, described technical education as 'simply a good education, with more attention to physical science, to drawing, and to modern languages than is common, and there is nothing specially technical about it'. He added, 'The workshop is the only real school for a handicraft'. 15 If Huxley's definition of technical education is acceptable, then it can be fairly said that the Intermediate schools went a long way towards meeting it. The Act of 1889 attempted to define technical education by drawing a distinction between the teaching of the scientific principles underlying the practice of any trade or industry or employment and the practice itself. Schools were to ...............
.................. teach the principles, not the practice. So that in the Intermediate Schools technical education in effect came to mean the teaching of the sciences and some training of hand and eye through Drawing and Manual Instruction for boys and Domestic Subjects for girls.
The founding fathers of Narberth in 1895 had spoken of agriculture as a special feature of the new school, and after some time an attempt was made at Narberth as at some other Intermediate schools to include agriculture as a subject in the curriculum, but very few schools had much success in this direction. Apart from an innate conservatism in the farming community and a conviction that theory could contribute little to traditional methods, undoubtedly teachers with a mainly bookish or academic background would tend to regard instruction in practical subjects as peripheral to the main purpose of the Intermediate school. Indeed, the first Secondary School Regulations of the Board of Education issued in 1904 emphasised the general and academic nature of the secondary education the Board wished to see develop. Although the regulations recognised that in the teaching of science there must be practical experiment as well as theory, in other aspects of the course there was an insistence on academic study for its own sake. The regulations stated, for example, that 'Where two languages other than English are taken, and Latin is not one of them, the Board will require to be satisfied that the omission of Latin is for the advantage of the school'. A regulation of this kind would, of course, be reinforced by other demands on the Intermediate schools such as the requirements for University Matriculation. The schools were always short of money and adherence to the regulations of the Board of Education was a main source of essential grants. Local resources, too, were not immediately forthcoming to provide the necessary practical accommodation or teaching for the schools. Woodwork was not taught at Narberth until 1903 when the services of a local carpenter were secured. The school could not be held responsible, either, for the fact that in 1905 the girls were taught Cookery only at five-weekly intervals as the County Cookery Instructress had other schools to see to in addition to Narberth. Matters improved with the passing of the years. From 1908 Narberth had better practical accommodation for boys and girls but even then there was a marked tendency to confine the teaching of practical subjects to odd times and to the lower forms of the school.
It has been overlooked, nevertheless, that in another respect the Intermediate schools did make a distinct contribution to the early development of technical education in rural Wales. Under the Technical Instruction Act of 1889 the county of Pembroke in common with the other rural counties of Wales organised lectures and demonstrations in the principles of agriculture and dairy work at a number of centres, and in addition grant-aided evening classes in vocational subjects. In the early years the organisation of these classes was left to the local county councillor, other volunteers, or the local School Board, and agricultural instruction particularly was in the hands of a peripatetic lecturer from the University College at Aberystwyth. But the arrangements were not entirely satisfactory until the new Intermediate schools became well established and could provide not only recognised local centres ...............
.................... for evening classes but also the professional and administrative services of Heads of schools and Clerks to Governing Bodies which had previously been lacking. Thus we find John Morgan reporting, 'during the year 1903-04 evening and Saturday classes were conducted for outsiders by the Science Master, in theoretical and practical Chemistry, advanced and elementary Botany, Sound, Light, and Heat'. 16 It was in the development of embryonic Evening Institutes of this kind that Narberth and other Intermediate Schools succeeded in making a most important contribution to technical and vocational education in the countryside for many years to come.
This account of Narberth Intermediate School during its first thirty years or so is based in the main on the file relating to the school in the Public Record office, London, ED35/3397, and on the annual reports of the Central Welsh Board entitled Inspection and Examination of County Schools, dating from 1897. The latter may be consulted at the National Library. Statistical and other relevant details have been taken from these reports. Specific references are as follows:
1. Report in Haverfordwest and Milford Haven Telegraph, 12 March, 1890.
2. Report in The Tenby Observer, 25 September, 1895.
3. Schools Inquiry Commission, Vol. I, The Report of the Commissioners, p. 36. H.M.S.O. London, 1868 (The Taunton Report).
4. A more detailed analysis will be found in my article entitled The Curriculum of the Intermediate Schools: Some Antecedent Considerations in the National Library of Wales Journal, Vol. XXI, No. I (Summer 1979).
5. P.R.O. ED35/3397, Owen Edwards, Chief Inspector, Notes of Visit, 20 June ,1910.
6. Ibid. B. B. Skirrow, H.M.I., Report dated 3 February, 1903, and W. J. Williams, H.M.I., Minute dated 12 May,1922.
7. (a) Testimony of the late Dr. William Thomas, C.B. and (b) E. Llwyd Williams in Crwydro Sir Ben fro, Rhan II;(Llyfrau'r Dryw, Llandybie, 1960) pp. 76-77.
8. P.R.O. ED35/3397, Letter from Clerk to Governors to Welsh Department of Board of Education, 4 November 1911.
9. Ibid., B. B. Skirrow, H.M.I., Notes of Visit, 3 February, 1903.
10. Ibid., Board of Education Letter to Clerk to Governors, 19 May, 1922.
11. Ibid., W. J. Williams, H.M.I., Minute of 12 May, 1922.
12. Ibid., Owen Edwards, Chief Inspector, Minute of 11 November, 1911.
13. Ibid., B. B. Skirrow, H.M.I., Notes on Visits, 14 June, 1911, and 7 July, 1913.
14. Biographical details relating to John Morgan are taken from Abel J. Jones, John Morgan, M.A., Gomerian Press, Llandysul, 1939
15. T. H. Huxley: Collected Essays, Vol. II (London, 1893) pp. 411-12, quoted by P. W. Musgrave in an interesting essay on The Definition of Technical Education 1860-1910, in P. W. Musgrave (ed.): Sociology History, and Education (London 1970).
Minutes of County Governing Body, Pembrokeshire, 8 March, 1904, at the Haverfordwest Office of Dyfed Archives
See also my article, Technical Education in South-West Wales, 1889-1904 in The Carmarthenshire Antiquary, Vol. XVI, 1080.
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