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 the parish of Llanilar. I met the Vicar, the Rev. P. Felix, at the schoolroom. He remained while I examined the scholars, and with the assistance of the schoolmaster, answered the questions in the schedule.
The schoolroom stands in the churchyard, a separate building from the church. It has rather an antique appearance outside, and it has a dark and dingy one inside. The floor is paved with pebbles: and the desks and forms, which are not sufficient in number, are the worse for wear, and bear ample proof that the taste of scholars, who sat at those seats in bygone days, was rather to carve wood than cultivate their mind. The master seemed a steady intelligent man, but wanting in activity and energy of character to carry on a school efficiently.
I examined every class and scholar individually in reading. The reading of the highest class was tolerably well, but they were not well versed in Scripture history nor the leading doctrines of Christianity. All the scholars are taught in the Church Catechism, but scarcely one could repeat any questions correctly in it, though they had learnt it before the last confirmation which took place at the church. The younger or lower classes read very imperfectly, and could scarcely answer a single question upon any subject ; but the scholars were all very young, except the highest class, and Welsh only is spoken in this neighbourhood by the labouring classes. The writing was rather below mediocrity, and arithmetic is very little known or taught; only two boys are even in the elementary rules, and not one of them knew how much 40d is.
(Signed) HENRY PENRY, Assistant.
I visited this school myself, and found it even worse than Mr. Penry describes it. Scarcely a word of English is understood by the children.
J. C. S. [Jelinger C. Symons, the chief commissioner]