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CONFERENCE OF PROGRESSIVES" AT DENBIGH. HOSTSLiTY TO THE EDUCATION ACT. PJIP. Clement Edwards Advocates "Squeezing" Church School Managers. On Wednesday, in the Schoolroom at Capel Mawr, Denbigh, a largely attended conference of progressive educationalists was held, under the presidency of Mr J Herbert Roberts, M.P., in pursuance of the Cardiff Conference's recom- mendation that in every local education area in Wales and Monmouthshire a representative and practical organisation of all educational pro- gressives should be formed to bring pressure to bear on the educational authorities to induce them to act fully up to the spirit of the recom- mendations of the Conference. The Chairman wau supported by Mr Clement Edwards, Liberal candidate for the Denbigh Boroughs. Mr S Moss, M.P., wrote that he was exceedingly sorry he could not be present owing to a long standing professional engagement. He hoped that some- thing useful and practical would result from the deliborations of the meeting. Mr D S Davies, Plas Castell, Denbigh, wrote apologising for absence. Amongst those present from this neighbourhood were:—The Mayor of Denbigh (Mr A 0 Evans), Messrs W Marsden Davies, John Davies, J.P., Rev T Jones, Green Rev R Griffiths, Rev Evan Jones, Messrs Boaz Jones, Thomas Parry, Green Rev H 0 Hughes, Henllan; Messrs John Joaes, Greon Edward Mills, W Price, Rev Joseph Evans, Messrs Griffith Jones, Eglwys Wen; Richard Jones, Brookhouse; H Lloyd Jones, Llitnrlaaiadr William Owen, Mr and Mrs E J Roberts, Mr S T Miller, Rov Jonah Lewis, Rev James Charles, Mr J Harrison Jones, Mr Edward Jones, Rev M E Jones, Mr Robert Williams, Mrs D S Davies, Castle House; Miss Gee. Mrs L G Thomas and Miss Rowlands, B.A., Ruthin; Mr J W Lumlty, Mr Francis Dowell, Councillor Thomas Griiliths, Rev E Stephens, Rev E Mostyn Jones, Rev Oscar S Symonds. Rev E J Williams, Messrs Henry Williams, Plasyward; John Hughes, Gel. if or; J T Lloyd, Gyffyliiog; Rev E Owen, Llanfihangel; Messrs W Jones, Plas-yn-llan ,Evan Hughes, Llanynys; E T Jones, Dei wen Robert Jones, Gyffylliog; J P Lloyd, Plas Llan- gwyfen; John Davies, Hiraetuog; A Paul, Bontuchel; Bennett Jones, Bylchau; John Jones, Segrwyd; William Williams, Cae drain John Jones, Cerrigllwydion R D Jones, Nant- clwyd mill; D W Roberts, Dryneglwys; E Evans, Nantglyn; Thomas Lloyd, Trefnant; 0 Williams, Glanclwyd; R W Owen, Gyffy- Iliog; Rev T Richards, Gyffyliiog; Rev J D Jones,-Gellifor; John Williams, Ccfn; E W Thomas, Bryneglwys; R D Jones, St Asaph; Rev Robert Roberts, Llansannan Mr H E Pritchard, Abergele; Rev J Roberts, Abergele; Mr J P Williams, Rev Morgan Davies, Rev Francis Jones, Mrs Parker Davies, Messrs J R Ellis, J R Williams, Abergele J R Williams, Llangerniew Rev Cynwyd Williams, Llanrwst; Messrs W J Williams, W G Jones, J E Hum- phreys, L R Jones, &c., Ac. The Chairman said Denbighshire had taken the lead in the past in times of stress and diffi- culty, and the large representation and the united gathering that afternoon was a clear proof that it retained its capacity of the courage to lead the forces of Liberalism and progress in North Wales in the present crisis (applause). Having referred to the loss they felt, especially under existing eircumstances, in the removal from their ranks of leaders like the late Mr Gee, he pointed out that they still had the inspiration of their example and the memory of their deeds and words to guide and stimulate them (applause). Let them at this important juncture read at- tentively the writing of the past; let them study carefully the lesson of the facts of the present; let them keep their eyes fixed on the ideal of the future. One or two things wore plain. The Act which had been passed had a special mean- ing and message for Wales. From the moment the measure had been revealed, the great majority of the people of Wales had realised its spirit and purpose, and had offered it strenuous and persistent opposition. He thought that it would be generally recognised that the measure had stirred the heart and mind of Nonconformist Wales in a remarkable manner, and the efforts put forth in the House of Commons by the Welsh members against its passage into law was but an expression of that fact (applause). The Act was now, however, the law of the land, and they were face to face with the question—In what spirit, by what principles, were they going to ad- minister it ? Let them clear the ground at the outset of any possible misunderstanding. They were unalterably convinced of the inherent in- justice of the measure! they realised from what source it had emanated and for what purpose it had been framed, and they protested against it with all tkeir might as an attempt to perpetuate the present system of sectarian elementary edu- cation in the country, as disastrous to the progress of education and the highest interests of the nation (applause). He need not remind them that the conditions surrounding the life of Wales intensified all those elements of injustice and retrogression in the measure which they had resisted to the best of their ability in the House of Commons (applause). As to personal action he would say nothing, for that was clearly a question to be settled according to the dictates of the individual conscience and not by the resolu- lution of any public body. As to the bodies responsible under the Act for the administration of the measure, the County Councils, he ex- pressed the opinion that as they represented the dominant opinion of the country so far as Wales was concerned they eould be trusted to take their own- line upon this question. Speaking for himself, he had the fullest con- fidence in their capacity and determination to follow the course best calculated to serve the cause of education and in accordance with those principles which they considered essential to the welfare of the country (hear, hear). As to the part to be played by the public, he ventured to think that they could trust the people in this as in every other crisis (applause). He believed that a new sense of individual responsibility as to education had been created by the passage of this Act which was bound to have the most far- reaching consequences. What was their clear duty ? To place before them the ideal in educa- tion, and through the machinery and the pos- sibilities of this measure to press forward towards its attainment. What was their ideal? The creation of a new interest in every locality in the elementary school, a new consciousness of the fact that the school was an institution of first importance to the life of the community, but it belonged to the people and should be governed by the people, and that the people should place at its service their best character and attain- ment (applause). Secondly, thit every effort should be made to bind together all the grades of education in Wales, and that the whole sys- tem should be made to live and move as the expression of the nation's will. Finally, that they should set their mind upon securing an organisation which would in time become a Board of Education for Wales (applause), and thus enable them to work out for themselves the great problems connected with education. He ventured to predict that if they were true to their principles, and if they threw themselves with courage and determination into the task of building up their educational edifice, the barrier thrown across their path in the new Act would soon disappear (applause). COUXTY COUNCIL'S ACTION APPROVED. The Rev Cynwyd Williams, of Llanrwst, moved—" That this Conference declares its satis- faction at the decision taken by the Denbigh County Council on Friday last to appoint a committee of its members to consider and to report upon the provisions of the Education Act, and it further expresses its concurrence with the terms of the resolution detailing the steps which should be taken to obtain the information re- quired for the production of such a report" Mr Thomas Savage (Wrexham seconded the motion. He remarked that the chairman had referred to the desirability of the whole of Wales acting unitedly, and if that was desirable for the whole Principality it was equally desir- able for the whole county. He thought, there- fore, that the County Council before passing the resolution might have consulted the only town in tho county which was in a position to act on its own account in the matter (hear, hear). The Act wp..i as bad as a Tory Government could j possibly make it and such redeeming features as it posessed had been put there by. the Liberal members and by one or two brilliant men sent up from Wale-, who had justified their presence in the House of Commons (applause). Let them see to it that the people of Denbigh, as well as ol Wrexham, sent up another to help them at the next election (applause). Mr J W Lumley (Colwyn Bay) said the seconder of the resolution seemed to complain that Wrexham had not due consideration from the County Council in the appointment of the Committee, but that subject was considered by the Wrexham representatives, and Mr Simon Jones and Mr Samuel were selected as repre- sentatives of that town (hear, hear). Mr Savage pointed out that these gentlemen were aot representatives of the Town Council. Mr Howel Gee asked whether Mr Savage had attended as representing the Town Council to say that they were going to throw their contribu tion into the.common pot and join in a general scheme for the county (hear, hear). The Chairman said the point suggested by Mr Gea was very important, but it was not exactly what they had met to disouss. They could well leave these local questions to be decided by the representatives of the various localities, and consider the main lines upon which they could proceed as a county (hear, hear). Mr E J Roberts, master of the Boys Board School, Denbigh, said they should try to make the best of a bad bargain. He recommended the County Council Committee to investigate the trust deeds of the Voluntary Schools, as he was told -and he got his information from a good source that the trust deeds wore being doctored to a large extent. They had seen the Bishop of St Asaph going around the diocese from school to school simply to look into the trust deeds and see that the Church got the best of the bargain. The Committee should also examine closely as to the sanitary condition of every school and its equipment. Lord Londonderry, president of the Council, had given instructions to His Majesty's inspectors not to be too severe at first. That meant that unless the County Councils were careful the ratepayers would have to pay in time for all those innovations in the form of wear and (hear, hear). He called the attention of the Committee to Clause 7 Section 5 of the Act they had under that section the selection of pupil teachers where there were more ftpplicants than were necessary, and as long as they were unable to appoint the head masters they should see that they appointed all the other masters, and especially the pupil teachers (applause). Mr Balfour had allowed the Voluntary Schools to levy fees and to apply the fees to the mainten- ance of the fabric. He recommended that the County Council should dispense with fees, and make the Church party find the means out of their own pockets to maintain the buildings (applause). Mr Clement Edwards said while the measure was in the stage of being a bill they used every legitimate effort at their disposal to convert it into something tolerable. Some improvements were made, but on the broad principles they did not succeed. Now the measure was an Act of Parliament, and they had to see how far, con- sistently with the wheels of the educational machinery going round, they could still maintain that attitude (applause). Many of their friends said they must interpret the Act according to the statements of its promoters. But no Act of Parliament was ever interpreted according to the professions and the statements of its promoters. A recent Act, familiar to them all, an Act called the Workmen's Compensation Act, was, in operation, miles short of what its pro- moters professed it was going to accomplish. Therefore, he asked them to look at the Act from the point of Tiew of administration, and to get the very maximum out of it from the point of view of religious liberty, and of control by the public (applause). At the Conference the other day in London, which passed resolutions drafted on the lines of those carried at the Cardiff Con- ference, it was stated that the question of repre- sentation had been settled by the Act by giving two-thirds of the management to the trustees of the Voluntary Schools and a third to the educa- tion authority. The Act did not say that. It said that not more than four should be appointed by the trustees, and not more than two by the education authority. What objection wn,s there to the education authority appointed by the Denbighshire County Council, saying: We will make a bargain with the trustees under which there shall be four managers, two from the trustees and two from the education author- ity (applause). Again, if there must be two- thirds of the membership appointed by the trustees of a Voluntary School, the Act did not say that while they were to be appointed by the trustees they were necessarily, therefore, to be appointed from the trustees. What objection was there to the education authority in Denbigh- shire saying, "You shall appoint four trustees. but you shall appoint two of our nominees (applause). Of course the trustees would object, but the County Council would control the purse strings (applause). It was true the trustees' objection would be upheld by the Education Department, in regard to certain-what might be called—necessary expenditure, but there was a certain amount of expenditure which was entirely within the discretion of the education authority, and they could look to the education authority exercising that discretion and using that discretion in such a way as to squeeze a tolerably good bargaia on this question of re- presentation (applause). It was true the Act said that the managers were to have the appoint- ment of the teachers. Here again they might get the education authority to exercise their discretionary power in regard to what they might call the extra expenditure in such a way as to see that while the managers appointed the teachers they should appoint the nominees of the education authority, selected entirely upon grounds of educational efficiency (applause). The County Council of Denbigh had done the right thing. He agreed that they ought to avoid anything like panic schemes, anything like rash and ill digested suggestions for the schemes, and might take if necessary full advantage of the whole of the eighteen months which was allowed them from March 26th to prepare their schemes. One striking advantage in the series of the con- ference which took place in connection with the Intermediate Education Act was that they got something like unity of the scheme under that Act for the whole of Wales, and he hoped that they would do that in this case (applause); and he advocated something like a national Welsh committee of education experts helping and advising and co-ordinating the schemes, so that they might get something like a common national educational policy in Wales (applause). Of course they would have a good deal of opposi- tion. They would hear a great deal in regard to the trust deeds, and the bargains they would have to make as to the structural character of the schools, and so on. It had been contended that they ought, to deal generously with the Established Church, if only because of the debt of gratitude due to them because they were the pioneers and first promoters of elementary education in England and Wales—("Oh" and laughter). He knew they did not agree he cer- tainly did not agree -(laughter), -but they heard a great deal about it (laughter). As a matter of fact, the Established Church started to provide elementary education not because it loved education, but because it hated Noncon- formity—("That is it and applause). They owed the idea of elementary non-sectarian education to one of the greatest Welshmen who ever lived-Robert Owen, of Newtown (applause). When they came to the administration of the Act they would administer it entirely from the point of view of education, from the point of view of constitutional principle of the people controlling where the people paid, and from the point of view of complete religious equality (applause). It was because he believed that the Denbighshire County Council in this matter could be entirely trusted that he had the greatest pleasure in seconding the resolution (applause). When there were doubtful points, let the Coun- cil insist upon their own rendering of them until they were brought up by the Education Depart- ment, so that they might arm themselves to fight for a perfectly satisfactory measure when the opportunity was given to the Liberal and Nonconformist party to frame and pass one (applause). The resolution was then carried unanimously. Mr John Williams, chairman of the miners' organisation for the county, moved: —" That it further pledges itself to render every assistance within its power to the Committee appointed to inquire into the present position of the denomi- national schools in the county, and to support the County Council in any action which it may deem necessary in carrying out the main prin- ciples of the scheme outlined by the Cardiff Conference." Mr J Harrison Jones (Denbigh) seconded the motion, which was supported by the Rev James Charles, Denbigh. Mr Howel Gee said that he was not prepared to pay an education rate unless the ratepayers got full representation on the schools, and he would not as a county councillor, ask any other man to do what ho would not do himself. Was that conference willing to support the County Council should it adopt that attitude '? The Chairman replied that they pledged them- selves to support the County Council i. any action which they might deem necessary in carrying out the main principles outlined at the Cardiff Conference. What Mr Gee mentioned was one of those principles (hear, hear). The motion was then carried unanimously. Other minor resolutions of a similar kind were carried. This closed the meeting.

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