Good teachers make a difference

Education In Dinas (English)Education in Dinas (Welsh)I have two sets of great-grandparents who were born and brought up in Dinas. They were born in the 1840s and I don’t know whether or not they went to school. Judging from John Hughes’ depressing account of Education in Dinas*, it would have been possible for them to have attended for quite a while and learned nothing much. By the crosses on the signature line on one of the marriage certificates, it’s clear they that two of them were not even able to sign their names.

My grandfather, born 1877, did better although schooling, exclusively in English and exclusively with untrained incompetent teachers, must have been a confusing and dispiriting experience for a child from a Welsh speaking family.

  • His first teacher may have been Jonathan Perkins, who came to Dinas Undenominational School in September 1881. He seemed to be a promising teacher but was found to have falsified the attendance register (to increase his salary) and resigned before being sacked in December 1882.
  • His second teacher was probably John S Lewis, under whom education standards fell. Mr Lewis left in August 1883, suffering poor health.
  • His third teacher was the minister of Tabor, Revd David James, who filled in until another teacher could be found.
  • His fourth teacher, Lachlan McKinnon, arrived in October 1883, during whose leadership the inspectors noted the filthy state of the children’s toilets, the errors in the registers and the inadequate standard of education. The school’s grant was cut. On 18th November 1886 Mr McKinnon’s entry in the logbook read: “Today I sever my unfortunate connection with this school.”
  • The next teacher was William Howell whose discipline was weak and who took time off without permission. But the school’s report for 1888 was favourable, at last. By this time my grandfather was 11 and was probably finishing his schooling.

Paulina (George) and Tom MauriceToo late for my grandfather, in 1889, there were the first signs that attitudes towards the use of the Welsh Language in school were beginning to change and by 1908, his sister, Polly, was teaching the infant classes in Welsh. The new head teacher, Tom Maurice, was trained and certificated and son of the local baptist minister. He not only wrote the first school syllabus to include Welsh history and Welsh as a medium of instruction for arithmetic, but arranged swimming instruction at Pwllgwaelod and field trips into the surrounding lanes to study botany. The inspectors noted that Welsh was now taught throughout the school and “the general intelligence of the children has benefited thereby.”

Paulina George and Tom Maurice were married in early 1908 and Tom remained head teacher of the school until 1939.

*This fascinating publication can be obtained from Ann and John Hughes. Phone 01348 811255 for information.

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3 Responses to Good teachers make a difference

  1. Ann Hughes says:

    Thank you for your letter. No, we certainly don’t object to you using the material from our books. We also published “The History of Tabor” written by JW Maurice in the County Echo. I don’t know if you would be interested in a copy of that as well. I assume, judging by the date of birth, that your grandfather was Evan George, son of Stephen and Mary. He is on my family tree as there is a connection by marriage between our families in that my great grandmother’s brother, William Owen, married Anne, Stephen’s sister. If you would like more info, you can contact me on the e mail address below. Best wishes, Ann.

    • Thank you for your speedy reply. I wasn’t confident that I had found the best way to contact you and didn’t think I’d hear from you for weeks!
      Yes, my grandfather was Evan George and my childhood holidays in Dinas were in spent in Eryl, staying with his sister Rebecca Francis. I didn’t even know that their father, Stephen, had a sister – you’ve obviously delved further than I have.
      I would be very interested in the History of Tabor. How can I buy a copy? I don’t think we’ll be able to come to Dinas until end of April/May.
      Thanks again for all the information.

      Best wishes, Sue

      • Ann Hughes says:

        Yes, Stephen had four sisters: Elizabeth b. 1832, Martha, b.1834, Anne, b.1836 and Hannah b. 1840. Stephen was the youngest in the family. I have a copy of the marriage cerificate of their father William to Anne John at Cwmyreglwys church in 1830, if you would like me to send it by e mail. I can send you the Tabor book if you like. We are selling it for £5 plus £1.50 if you want me to post it, or you might want to wait until April. Did you get your copy of History of Dinas from Walter Matthias? He bought a lot to send to relatives. Walter and I are the same age and always lived “next door” as I live in the bungalow on the Fishguard side of Bank House. I remember Trevor George and his brother coming down for holidays – you must be related to them. Bye for now, Ann.

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