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Opening of Gwespyr's¡ New…

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Opening of Gwespyr's ¡ New School. Mr. J. Bevan Evans on the Aims of Education. SONS OF THE COUNTRY. Mr. F. Ll. Jones on Wales's Debt to Rural Districts. On Monday morning, when the children of the elementary schools of the county I went back to their studies after the Whit- suntide holidays, the children of Gwespyr, I Llanasa, assembled in the new school which the Flintshire Education Authority have erected on a site given by the late Sir Pyers Mostyn, Bart., of Talacre. The open- ing of this school marks a new chapter in the history of education in that part of the county. Gwespyr Council School stands on a commanding eminence facing the estuaries of the Dee and Mersey, and situated so as to be reasonably accessible to the children of Gwespyr on one side and towards Peny- fiordd, Glanrafon, and other clusters of houses on the other, The erection is of Gwespyr freestone, has a substantial ap- pearance and neat design, and is surround- 0 ed by a yard asphalted and fenced round by a dwarf wall and iron railings. The interior is well designed; the central por- tion is so arranged as to be partitioned into class rooms, infants' class L oms are pro- vided, also cloak rooms and lavatories. The floors are of wood block, and the heating apparatus, radiators, and ventilation on the dost approved principles. A neater and more compact school, together with a more pleasing frontal design, could not be de- sired, and it is highly complimentary to the gocd taste that always characterises the architectural productions of Mr. S. Evans, the county surveyor. There were present at the opening cere- lnoily: Mr. John Owen, J.P., Brynllystyn (chairman of the managers' committee), who Presided; Mr. T. W. Hughes, Flint (chair- man of the Flintshire Education Commit- tee), Mr. E. Geo. Evans, C.C., Mr. R. Frank Jones, C.C., Rhyl; Mr H. A. Tilby (clerk to the County Council); Mr. J. Sevan Evans (Director of Education), Mr. F. Llewellyn-Jones, L.L.B., Mold; Rev. W. Loyd Protheroe, vicar of Llanasa; Rev. W. Armon Ellis, vicar of Ffynnongroew; Rev. T. M. Jones, Gronant; Mr. Edward Jones, "Tyn y Morfa; Mr. Frank Nicholson, Mr. A. .iE. Jones (correspondent manager); Mr. C. -J. Batters, r. W. Evans, Gronant; Mr. J. iB. Thomas (headmaster of the school), etc. The first act was to unlock the door, and this, at the request of Mr John Owen on behalf of the managers, was performed by -Ilr. T. W. Hughes. Mr. Owen said they felt grateful to the 'County Council for providing such a beau- tiful building, which was a credit to all connected with its erection, particularly the architect, Mr S. Evans, the county survey- or. They hoped the work carried on in the school would be successful, and that the -Young people educated within its walls, would take honourable positions in their .after life, and be a credit to the school, adding lustre to their native place. It was "I-itli great pleasure that he presented to Mr Hughes the key with which to open tTie School door, and to. ask him to formally de- clare the building open. Mr. T. W. Hughes, in accepting the key and opening the door, said he felt honour- ed in opening the school on behalf of the Education authority (applause). Upon en- tering the school the Rev W. Loyd Pro- t'heroe proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. T. W. Hughes for honouring them with his Presence and formally opening the school. They welcomed him for the interest he took in the educational welfare of their young. Mr. Edw. Jones seconded the proposition, "Which was carried unanimously. INFLUENCE OF ENVIRONMENT. Mr. T. W. Hughes, responding, said he highly appreciated the honour of opening the new school. Llanasa people ought to feel proud of the building. It was delight- iully situated, and altogether a beautiful building, quite up-to-date, and there ap- peared to be nothing wanted to make it a success. Environment had a great influence Upon character, and he hoped Gwespyr school would in every way have a good in- fluence in the formation of character in this district. The Chairman said there was one act he should like to perform, and that was to acknowledge their indebtedness to the Tal- acre family for the site for the school. They felt grateful for what the House of Talacre had done for education and for the interest taken in the welfare of their young People The late Sir Pyers ialostyl-i did much In his time and spent much money on edu- cation, and as they knew gave the site free of charge. On behalf of the managers he Proposed a vote of thanks to the Talacre family for their gift. Mr. Edw. Jones, seconding, said they ap- preciated all that had been done for the People of Gwespyr and neighbourhood by .the late Sir Pyers Mostyn and family. The opening hymn, "0 God, our help in ages past" was sung very' prettily by the children, under -the drection of Mr. J. B. Thomas, and a short prayer was offered by the Vicar of Llanaoa, followed by the Lord's Prayer, in which all joined. Mr. E. George Evans, C.C., said he was SUre it was a great change to transfer from the place they had been boxed in for so long to the new school. He hoped the chil- dren would appreciate and take advantage of the opportunities given tliem. On tliat occasion he could.not help paying a tribute of praise to Mr. T. W. Hughes as chair- man of the Education Authority. In him they had a man with a la-rge heart, full of sympathy and kindness for children. He forked for all departments of education in Flintshire, and gave all fair play. The edu- cation of the children had benefited by his ^eing in the chair (hear, hear). There was another gentleman they had to be grateful to. He referred to Mr. Bevan Evans, the Director of Education. One sentence would complete all he had to say of him-he was a demon for work and loved detail. That was the measure of the great success of education in Flintshire, and the county ought to be proud of the educational system and its officials. He regretted Mr. S. Evans, who designed the buildings, was not able to be present—great credit was due to him (hear, hear). The children would now attend school under splendid surroundings, and he considered it was only right and proper that the children of the working classes should have the best of surround- ings, for oiie-geveiitli of their life was 6pent in elementary school. He trusted the chil- dren would take advantage of the facilities offered them, so that they might become God-fearing men and women, a credit to Flintshire and the land of their birth (hear, hear). AIMS OF EDUCATION. Mr. J. Bevan Evans, Director of Educa- tion, said that when over eight years ago the temporary school was erected for Gwes- pyr, they little thought it would be quite so long before a permanent building was erected The delay had not been altogether unpro- ductive. In the first place, the somewhat bitter feeling which existed at the time the temporary school was opened had had time to disappear, and he was glad to know that the managers and teachers at all the schools in this neighbourhood were working to- gether in harmony for the benefit of the children under their care. In the second place, a good many new schools had been erected during the past eight or ten years, and the 6um of experience gained in t 0 erected of them had considerably beneT. d the Gwespyr schools. The problem was how to make the best use of the school. The difficulty of the problem was the great- er because the conception of the aims of education had changed very greatly during the last 15 to 20 years. There was a time when people thought that the object of the elementary school was simply to give boys and girls a training in the three 11. 's. The old system of payment by results had a great deal to do with keeping teachers and others interested in education rigidly to that old conception. The sweeping away of payment by results had had the effect of opening up a wider conception of educa- tional work altogether. They all now recog- nised that the object of the elementary school was to give children a thorough training, morally, intellectually, and physi- cally, for the work they were to carry 011 in after life, and so to benefit not only the individual children, but the community as well. The most important object which teachers had to keep in view in an elemen- tary school was the training of boys and girls to become conscientious, broad-minded and self-reliant men and women (hear, hear). In the second place they should re- ceive a thorough training in the more intel- lectual faculties, and thirdly there was the idea of education which had to do with the health of the children—the physical side of their nature. With regard to Gwespyr they had had to consider how that could be best carried out. The first, to become conscientious, broadminJed and self-reliant —the work was in good hands. He could say on every occasion lie had visited Gwes- pyr school he had carried away an excellent impression of the efforts of the teacher (hear, hear). With regard to Intellectual development, he thought that at Gwespyr as at all other places in the county teachers fully understood that the main object was to develop the powers of children in every direction. The third aspect of educational work coming into prominence at the present time was the training of children in special subjects—the training of girls in the duties they will be called upon to perform after leaving school, and the training of boys in manual work so as to give them that dexte- rity which would be of so much service to them in whatever calling they might adopt after school. Some people thought those subjects were a waste of time. That im- pression was, however, losing ground, so that at present tlie person who did not fav- our instruction of that kind was looked upon as an anomaly and an educational crank. Gwespyr will be a centre for a course of training in cookery and domestic work for the girls, and in manual training. It was important, in view of the decay of the ap- prenticeship system, that boys should be trained in manual dexterity. LACK OF SELF CONFIDENCE. Addressing the children, Mr. Bevan Evans said he had had many opportunities of comparing Welsh and English children dur- ing the 15 years he had spent in England. During the time he had lived in Wales he had come in contact with thousands of Welsh children, and he could not help being struck with the difference between the Eng- lish boys and girls and the Welsh boys and girls. Given equal abilities and advan- tages, the English generally did better than the Welsh boy or girl. The reason for that was that Welsh boys and gills were really lacking to a certain extent in self-confid- ence. They did not make the best of their abilities, and did not succeed quite so well in whatever vocation they followed as did their English fellows. Welsh boys were also lacking in perseverance. They started enthusiastically and did excellent work for a year or two and then got tired. They did not stick in the same way as the English boys did. If the boys and girls--of Wales would make up their minds to cultivate self-confidence and perseverance they would in after years have every reason to be grateful (hear, hear). Mr C. J. Batters said he thought Mr. Bevan Evans had overlooked the age at which children left school. Now that they tried to teach children so very much more than in past days, the time ran away and the child could not grasp all. He would impress upon parents the desirability of keeping children in school as long as they could. Mr. F. Llewellyn-Jones said:—Permit me in the first place to offer my sincereet con- gratulations to the men and women of Gwespyr—and to their children-for what you have secured for your district, and may I express the wish that this school will more than realise all the expectations which you to-day cherish. You have had placed in your midst a fine and well-equipped build- ing —an ornament to the countryside—and it will remain here for many a generation as one of the most important institutions of this part of the country. Speaking in this school—intended as it is for an extensive rural district—I would like to dwell briefly upon the debt which as Welshmen we owe to the rural parts of our land. Let me re- fer to one aspect of this debt. During the last two or three centuries Wales has been blessed with a succession of men who by their activity in the literary, social, and re- ligious life of our country have so largely contributed to make Wales what it is to- day. It is a remarkable fact that the great majority of these men are SONS OF THE COUNTRY, and it is undoubted that in the course of their early life in the country they received the inspiration which enabled them to give of their best to their fatherland. I should weary you were I to try to give you a list of these men in any sphere. Our national history for the past centuries is a record of their activity. But shall I mention a few names which suggest themselves to all of us? Among the religious leaders of Wales we have Bishop William Morgan, who was oorn at Penmaehno, ahcl to wliom we owe our Welsh Bible, which is apart from every- thing else our greatest national literary possession. Think also of Griffith Jones, of Llanddovvror, the pioneer of Welsh rural schools; Thomas Charles, the son of a small farmer in Carmarthenshire, known to us as Charles of Bala and as the founder of the Welsh Sunday Schools; Lewis Edwards, of Bala, who by his advocacy of higher educa- tion in the middle decades of last century did so much to prepare our country for its system of secondary schools and university colleges. Or, if you will permit me, let me mention two names among our own con- temporaries. We have not yet realised the extent of our obligation to Thomas Edward Ellis, of Cynlas, the son of a small Merion- ethshire farmer, who in his short life urged with unbounded enthusiasm the educational claims of his fellow-countrymen, and to whom above all others we owe the estab- lishment of our intermediate schools and of our national university. The other name is that of a. man who, though born in a large English city, spent his early years in a small country village, and who, while he has never forgotten his fatherland, has devoted his great talents to the service of the Em- pire, and has brought lustre to the land which is proud to own him as her greatest son. We may well ask what we are doing to pay a tithe of the debt we owe to our rural districts. Of late years we have heard a great deal of the decay of agricul- ture and of the depopulation of the country- side. Politicians of every shade of opinion are propounding legislative schemes for dealing with this complaint. We are being reminded of the dull and drab life of the countryman, and are being asked what can be done to remedy matters. To-Jay in this gathering we have nothing to do with many aspects of the question, but undoubtedly something can be done by an improvement of our rural schools and by bringing our educational organisation into closer touch with rural needs. I am glad to see that the Flintshire Local Education Authority has realised that the country is entitled to have well-built modern schools with the latest educational equipment. In the parish of Llanasa, of which you form part, the Coun- ty Council has already erected two hand- some schools and a third will scon follow at Gronant. This has cost the county money, and it has and will cost your parish no in- considerable sum, but the presence of so many of you here to-day is a recognition of your readiness to expend public money in this direction. REMUNERATION OF TEACHERS. But the school without the teacher is of no value, and I fear that in the past there lias been too great a tendency to attract all the best talent of the teaching profes- sion to the towns and thickly-populated in- dustrial districts. The inducements of larger salaries and the many advantages of town life have proved too much for many men and women, and those who remain in the country often do so at a great financial sacrifice. I contend that we have not done justice to the country schools. The time is coming when our country teachers will have to be better remunerated than they are, if we are to secure the best talent and to induce men and women to enter the pro- fession. We owe it to the schools of the country to see that they are generously staffed with teachers who receive adequate remuneration for their services as public servants. If our local education authorities will not approach this question as they should, one can only hope that Parliament and the central authority will make it a condition of increased educational grants that the men and women who have the edu- cation of our children in their hands, and who are often not paid a living wage, should be treated more equitably and generously. Mr H. A. Tilby was glad the Gwespyr people were proud of their schools. Per- sonallj", he thought they were the finest he had seen. The work of the managers was not to be too proud of them. It was a good thing to have a fine building, but it was only the gold case to a fine watch. The character of the watch was to be determined not by the 18-carat gold case, but by the mainspring in the shape of teachers, and the jewellery which was the home of the children. Give the children a wide out- look. Let them look forward so that they would be good citizens. He hoped the managers and teachers would keep one ideal before them, that "Their sons may grow up as the young plants and their daughters as the polished corners of the temples." Mr. Robt. Jones, Flint, paid a compli- ment to the Education Authority that they were so alive to their responsibility to pro- vide such schools. He did not know anyone who had done more for education in Flint- shire than had Mr. F. Ll. Jones. Address- ing the children, Mr. Jones hoped they would be obedient to their parents, kind and gentle to their companions. They had a good master, whom the older children could help by setting a good example to the younger children (hear, hear). The Rev. T. M. Jones said the meaning ( of the Welsh word for school—ysgol"— was "ladder." Something to climb up. He hoped Gwespyr school would be a ladder to many, and would be the means of widening their views on things. The Rev. W. L. Protheroe said the rate- payers had to pay a great deal of money for the erection of that beautiful building, but he had sufficient patriotism in his heart to say that it was a good investment, and lie was sure there were others who said the same. The Old Book told him that true wisdom consisted in the fear of God and in the keeping of His Commandments. He did not agree with the Director in his com- parisons of Welsh and English children, and he ventured to say that given equal conditions he would back the Welsh child before the English (hear, hear). Referring to the training of children, he regretted that so little interest was taken by parents in the education of children. The old sys- tem of home lessons kept the'parent and child in touch on the lesson given in school. It would be well if parents took greater in- terest in the progress of the children. Mr. J. Bevan Evans proposed, and Mr. Frank Jones, Rhyl, seconded a vote of thanks to Mr. John Owen for presiding. After the opening ceremony there was a large company of ladies and gentlemen en- tertained to luncheon at the old schools by Mr. J. Owen, Mr. Edw. Jones, nd A- j E. Jones, managers of the school. Mr. Edward Jones, Tyn-y-morfa, presided, and several toasts were given. Mr. F. Ll. Jones proposed the toast of "The Chairman and Messrs. John Owen and A. E. Jones." The toast was heartily received and duly responded to. Other toasts followed and the speakers included Mr. Frank Jones, Mr. Geo. Evans, Mr. H. A. Tilby, and the Vicar of Llanasa. In the afternoon the school children were entertained to tea by the managers. This was followed by sports. Mr. A. E. Jones, The Shop, catered for luncheon and tea in a most capable and satisfactory manner. -+--

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