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----CONF tjREJS OK OP TEACHERS…

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CONF tjREJS OK OP TEACHERS AT CARNARVON. MR TOM JOHN ON WELSH EDUCA- TIONAL DEFECTS. On Saturday afternoon, at the Board Schools, Carnarvon, Dr R. JonrS Roberts presided over a conference of teachers and school managers. Among others present was Mr Tom John, the Welsh representative on the Executive Committes of the National Union of Teachers Tile CHAIRMAN, in the course of his opening ad- dress, said that it should be their aim to well equip and properly staff the elementary schools. He con- sidered an understaffed school to be the lowest' form of false economy, and it was the duty of the State to make elementary schools efficient without ham- pering the managers and teachers. (Hear, hear.) He also advocated an improvement in the treatment of teachers and the raising of their status. (Ap- plause.) Mr JOIIN, who was received with cheers, said that no one would deny the importance of education as the btst means of building up a nation. Eve.) in W a^es the wisdom of the fathers had sent down two proverbs, if not more, in appreciation of that faith. These were Gwell dysg na golud "and Goreu arf, arf dysg." Wales was not in the pre-eminent position it ought to occupy and his desire was to diivehome this fact. Scotland was continually held up to them as an example. Scotsmen to-day, occupied prominent positions in the various depart- ments of life. Wai it because Scotsmen were en- dowed with stronger and brighter intellects than Welshmen ? This he would not allow and es- pecially when he remembered that the idol of Scotch philosophers was Professor Henry Jones, a Welshman. (Hear, hear.) It was opportunity which made nations, and the Scotsman had put his opportunity to the best possible advantage in the matter of education. Welshmen were singularly pre-eminent for singing and this was because the life of the nation had been full of stimulating oppor- tunities. Wales had at present a complete system of edueati n, but they must see that every grade was made an opportunity for the youth of Wales in every particular. As one of the members of the Welsh Central Board and the Welsh University Council, he was deeply impressed with the enthusiasm in \Ya'cs for intermediate and higher education, but all this was built on an uncertain foundation if they neglected their primary schools. (Hear, hear.) He found that in Carnarvonshire there were eight county schools which were well staffed, having seven head masters, one head mistress, sixteen as. sistant ma-ters and fourteen assistant mistresses This was a proportion of one teacher to every six. teen pupils. The elementary schools were not so well staffed, and he wanted greater'approximation. For instance, in the boys' departments of the Carnarvon Board schools, there were 350 on the book? and the staff consisted of three c- rtificated teachers. two ex-pupil teachers, and four pupil teachers. Taking C arnarvonshire altogether, he ascertained that there were 21,844 cn the books, the average attendance beiug 16,64S and the percentage, 76'21. In the matter of percentage the county stood second for the whole of Wales, and, by the way, there were only two counties in England as low as the highest counties in Wales. Then as to the staff for the county, there were 204 certificated teachers, ninety seven assistant teachers, 181 pupil teachers, and eighty-three additional teachers. Counting only trained teachers, this gave one for every 107 scholars, and, including a sistant teachers, one fur seventy-two, and further including apprentices, one forthirty-eight. He:ventured to sa'y'that it was not f ,jr to use pupil teachers as a staple iucludirgappr- ntices one for thirty-eight. He ventured to ask whether the county of Carnarvon was dointr its best for the child by providing only one trained teacher for every 107 scholars in the elementary schools, while in the county schools there was a tt-acher for every sixteen. In iNI, i-ione t b shire, which lie would com- pare with Carnarvonshire, there were 9.638 on 'he books, the average attendance being 7.3.S7. and the percentage 76'12. The staff was made up as follows :—127 certificated teachers, fiity-eight assistant teachers, eighty-two pupil teachi-rs, and twenty-five additional teachers. Therefore in Aierionethshire there was one certificated tacher for every seventy-six children, and including as- sistant teachers, one for fifty-two, and fn: ther in- cluding apprentices, one for thirty-three. Car- narvonshire, he contended, ought to put their staff right. Taking the question of finance, which un- fortunately was a great force in the matter of edu- cation, he said that in Carnarvonshire the local contribution towprds voluntary schools was 8s 2d. and for board schools, 16s. Gd., whereas in Merion- ethshire the contributions towards voluntary schools amounted to 16s 10d. and towards board schools £ 1 Ss. The average grant earned in Wales was 19a lOd per head. Carnarvonshire only earned 19s 6d., whilst the anjoining couat-y of Merioneth gained jElOs lid. Then the average expenditure throughout the Principality was JE2 5s. Id., as com- pared with JE2 17s. lOd. in Merionethshire and f2 4s. 6d. in Carnarvon. The total grant earned in Carnarvon was only £16.231. whereas if the at- tendance of Carnarvon equalled the average at- tendance of England their total grant would be 917,36S. If they had in addition to that earned the same grant as Merioneth, they would have re- cieved from the Treasury ilS,630-a gain in grants of f2 39S per annum. He deeply deplored the financial loss sustained by Wales in consequence of the poor attendance. This loss, when compared with the attendance in English schools, amounted to £15,255 per annum. They had been told over and over again that Wales made a bad third io the matter of staff and attendance. Education wis like the soil the more they gave to it the more it would return. It was true that in the matter of attendance Carnarvon, with its seventy-six per cent, was second in Wales, but it was below the lowest county in England. The \N elsh inspectors had laid stress upon this in their reports, Mr Legard said that practically a quarter of the children on the books were absent each time the school was opened. Mr Bancrofc complained that he found the greatest unwillingness to energetically enforce the greatest unwillingness to energetically enforce regularity of attendance by prosecutions. Mr Alexander said that magistrates were too reluctant to convict and Mr Darlington stated that the re- sponsibility appeared to be equally diviiie j between the school attendance authorities and the magis- trates. In fact, it was generally agneil that there was too much apathy and laxity in the carry- out of the compulsory clauses of the Education Act It was with dificulty they managed to secure a fine of 5s. in Wales, whereas in Scotland a man seldom got off under 20s. and costs, and i Germany, parents were imprisoned if children were absent for a day or two without valid cause. In Fiance pun- ishment invariably followed cases where the ab- sences exceeded four per month, and in Paris when a pupil missed a single attendance a letter demand- ing an explanation was sent to the parent and penalties had recently been made much more severe in Switzerland. Mr John then proceeded to deal with the employment of children during school hours and said that the public conscience must be roused, so as to make the system impossible. A discussion followed in the course of which the Rev Father JONES. Carnarvon, deplored the apathy of the parents of the town, and said that one morn- ing he counted as many as 1 IS children playing about the streets during school hours. (Shame.) Mr D. P. WILLI AMS (chairman of the Carnarvon County Governing Body) defended the magistracy, and said that the real fault why more convictions were not attained lay with the attendance com- mittees who sent their officers to court with very little knowledge of the cases. It was quite im- possible for magistrates to convict unless the cases were properly proved. The staffing of the ele- mentary schools, he believed, would improve as the intermediate schools grew in influence Mr John Evans, manual instructor to the Car- narvon County Council, pointed out that the system of Welsh education was very imperfect. The chain contained many weak links, and he felt bound to say that greater attention should be paid to manual training, which after all was the education most needed by the masses. (Hear, hear.) Votes of thanks were passed to Mr John and the Chairman and the meeting terminated.

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