If you have strong feelings on the positive value of a bi-lingual education, or indeed any education at all, be warned that there are parts of this wonderful book that will make your blood boil.
The Story of Education in Dinas* was written by John Hughes for the Dinas Cross Historical Society. It commemorates 300 years of schooling in Dinas and marks the sad closure of the village primary school in 2002.
The early years are a sorry tale of poverty and ineptitude. The population of Dinas was poor with no local gentry as benefactors and the income from school fees allowed little for the payment of the teachers let alone the maintenance and cleanliness of the buildings. Staff, who were poorly educated and demoralised, were regularly soon sacked or chose to leave. The children’s attendance was not good, hindered by illness and farm duties. Most of the families spoke only Welsh, while the inspectors and visiting educationalists often spoke only English. Education was supposed to be in English only and the standard of attainment abysmally low. By the 1870s, with the establishment of board schools, the regime required Inspectors to test each child in the school in English. Failure meant that the school grant and the teacher’s salary were further reduced.
Inspector Revd Pryce expressed a broadly held opinion:
There is no doubt that in an educational point of view, the disuse of Welsh as a spoken language will be a gain to the principality; for the limited area in which it is spoken, and the backward condition of Welsh literature, are serious drawbacks to the intellectual and commercial progress of the people.
So my grandfather who was born in Dinas in 1877 got his religion in Welsh from Tabor (and later from Castle Street in London) but even in the infant classes his education had to be in English only. His sister would help change things for the better. But more of that another time.