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;
I visited to-day a school held in a schoolroom near a chapel called Bethania, belonging to the Calvinistic Methodists, Llanbadarn-tref-Eglwys. This room is low, dark and unsuitable for a school to be held in. A youth in his 18th year is the master, and also kept the school here last winter, when he had from fifty to sixty scholars. He goes to school himself one half the year to Llangeithio and the other half he keeps school.
I examined each of the scholars in the several branches taught. Simple reading and spelling were very incorrectly done, and as to obtain an answer respecting the meaning of any word, or an historical fact, or any person mentioned in the Bible, it was next to impossibility. They knew nothing about Jesus Christ. One said that Jesus Christ dies and lives for us in heaven. Another said that Calvary was a happy and blessed place. The writing was very carelessly done, and abounding with blots and mistakes. No arithmetic is at present taught, nor any other branches of knowledge beside what I have named before.
One of the principal persons connected with the Calvinistic Methodists assembling in the adjoining chapel was present when I examined the school, and he said that they are aware of the imperfect state of things at this school, and they are in treaty to obtain a suitable piece of ground to build, a convenient school, and they mean to obtain a well-qualified and trained teacher. I left a schedule for the Sunday school assembling in the adjoining chapel.
November 27th 1846 (Signed) HENRY PENRY Assistant
I visited today a school held at a Calvinistic Methodist chapel at Pontrhyd-Saeson, in the parish of Llanbadarn-tref-Eglwys. There has a school been kept in this locality by one adventurer, and another since 1816, but the present master, who is a young man about 20 years of age, began here about a month ago. He has therefore not done much to improve the mind of his pupils. I examined the whole school in what was taught. The reading was very bad, and not one of the five who read to me in the highest class could tell me in Welsh or English anything concerning the principal events or persons mentioned in the Bible. They knew next to nothing concerning Jesus Christ, or anything contained in the New Testament. The writing was done, very carelessly, and every page of the books covered with blots. The master wrote very badly, and he had made several mistakes in orthography in setting the copies for the pupils to imitate. The scholars knew nothing of arithmetic. It was one of the very worst schools I have yet seen. I left a schedule for the Sunday school assembling in the chapel where this school is held.
November 26th 1846 (Signed) HENRY PENRY, Assistant
I visited today the parish of Llanbadarn-tref-Eglwys, and examined the school held in the schoolroom belonging to the parish. The building is composed of two rooms standing at right angles, the one to the other. They are in rather a sad state of repair; the roof wants mending, and the inside cleaning. The use of this room is given to the present master, but neither the parish nor any other parties contribute to it. The master is entirely dependent upon the scanty fees he obtains from the few pupils that attend. The master is lame, and unable to work, but he is also very incompetent to keep school. The Incumbent, the Rev. Mr. James, told me they tolerate this state of things because at present they cannot do better. The three or four older children read tolerably, and answered a few simple questions of Scripture history in Welsh, but they knew nothing of what they read or spelt in English. The writing was a dirty scribble, unfit to be seen; and of arithmetic or grammar, which one was learning, they knew nothing. They said 30d. was 1s. 3d. and 60d. 3s. They could not answer one question in the multiplication table. I left a schedule to be filled up for the Church Sunday school, and one also at Pennant, belonging to the Calvinistic Methodists.
November 26th 1846 (Signed) HENRY PENRY, Assistant.