ABERDARE GRAMMAR SCHOOLS
Interesting review of the year
THE interesting and highly informative reports presented by Mr. J. Warren, the headmaster of the Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School, and Dr. D. L. Graham, headmistress of Aberdare Girls’ Grammar School, this year dealt with several important topics, among them, out-of-school activities.
In his comments on this subject, Mr. WARREN said that an active corporate life was a sign of health in every school. Examination work was fundamental, but out-of-class activities were not only enjoyable, but helped to enrich the minds and memories of the pupils. Members of the staff freely gave up their leisure to make it possible for boys to cultivate their hobbies and recreations.
Said Mr. Warren:
“Some boys, and many parents, do not realise the importance attached by all employing authorities and by the Universities and Training Colleges to full participation in out of school activities. It is assumed as a matter of course, that candidates for admission to courses of training or for responsible posts have the necessary examination qualifications. In letters of application and at interviews, appointing bodies look for something extra. They are looking for candidates to train for posts of the highest responsibility.
“They expect them to be well read, able to express themselves easily and appropriately to the circumstances, to have a knowledge of the world around them, and to have cultivated interests and skills which are outside the field of their special study.
“In return for the expenditure upon him which is being made by the State and by the County in which he lives, the grammar school boy is expected to lead a very active life. He must not only work conscientiously in school, and do his homework thoroughly (for that is his chance of showing that he can work on his own) but he should be keeping abreast with current affairs by reading suitable newspapers and periodicals, and at the same time he should be developing an art or skill or recreation so that he becomes a master in it. Many boys will find a creative outlet for their energies in an active participation in the life of their church or chapel.
TEST OF CHARACTER
“The real test of a boy’s character is the way in which he reconciles and harmonises these competing claims on his time and attention.
“The boy who does his school and home work thoroughly but stops there will not become a full personality. On the other hand, the boy who sacrifices his school work to his outside interests will fail to qualify for his profession or will not do full justice to his abilities.
“Parents, the local authority, and the State are all interested in ensuring that the sacrifices which are being made to keep a boy in school are justified by results. A very great deal is demanded of the boy. The life is a very strenuous one. It is from those who meet the challenge that are drawn these grammar school pupils who become the leaders in their chosen field of endeavour.”
MISS D. L. GRAHAM pointed out in her report that in addition to their studies and games, the girls indulged in many other activities. The Guide Company continued to flourish, and they enjoyed what was surely a rare distinction—of having a Commissioner as their captain.
There were “historical” outings to castles and to the docks; geographical and botanical trips to study the rocks and flora of the surrounding countryside, visits to local creameries and factories, where such matters as sound reproduction and television were demonstrated, and visits to the ballet and French plays in Cardiff. Some of the sixth form students had enjoyed weeks at Duffryn on educational courses.
On the subject of CAREERS, Miss Graham had this to say: “When we consider the after-careers of our girls we find that teaching still holds some attraction for many. And thanks to the generous grants offered to successful candidates at advanced and scholarship levels, the rush to training colleges (of which we have reason to complain), has undoubtedly been stemmed, and more are proceeding to read for degrees.
“Looking at the list in front of me, it is clear that eleven of the names are of girls going to training colleges, and nine of them of girls who are going to university colleges.
DEGREE IN MATHS
“Once having obtained a degree, however, it by no means follows that the graduate will inevitably take up teaching. Particularly apparent is this so far as science is concerned, but although it is true that our science girls look to industry or research for employment, rather than teaching, we have recently had instances of our mathematicians showing an interest in teaching. In fact, three of our girls are now taking mathematics for a degree— and three more who are entering university in September hope to do so.
After commenting that it was to be hoped that the additional salary allowances made to teachers recently by the Burnham Committee would have the effect of attracting more pupils to Grammar School teaching, as a career, Miss Graham said: “Others of our girls are now undergoing training as dispensers, physiotherapists and speech therapists—and one is undergoing training for the position of hospital almoner.”
Other points in THE GIRLS’ SCHOOL REPORT:
Numbers on roll: There were 378 pupils on the register at the commencement of the autumn term. This represented a decrease in the numbers of the previous year in accordance with the policy of the governors, and it had resulted in greater comfort and more living room.
Examination results: Results last year were very pleasing, and in fact, reflected great credit on the staff as well as on the industry and talent of the candidates, and the backing given them by their parents.
Miss Graham added: “We are beginning to find the measure of the new “Subject” examination, and to see its uses as well as the possibility of its abuse. Our aim is not to produce proficiency in a great variety of subjects merely for the sake of creating records, but to satisfy real needs and. fulfil definite purposes.
“For example, the fact that in quite recent years we, in a small school like ours, have had successes in Greek, Italian, German and Spanish, in addition to our usual Welsh and French and Latin, did not make us feel compelled to offer them this year. Nevertheless, even so, we had passes in 16 subjects at the Advanced Level and 21 subjects at the Ordinary Level.
“It is impossible to assess at a glance the value of a pupil’s results in the new “Subject” examination. Merely to have passed in one subject may mean an incapacity or lack of industry, or it may mean a very valuable completion of a qualification (or in Pure and Applied Mathematics done in one year instead of the usual two in order to press on to take Mathematics as two subjects).’
Miss Graham concluded by saying that no record of the years activities would be complete without payment of tribute to the staff “for their extremely hard work and apparently indestructible good humour,” to the prefects, who (as usual) did so much more than they had to do; to the parents for their loyal co-operation and their steadying influence. Finally, said Miss Graham, it was a pleasure to be able to speak appreciatively of the girls whose conduct and work were generally reasonably good.
THE BOYS’ SCHOOL REPORT showed that the number on the register at the beginning of the year was exactly the same as in the girls’ school (378). Nine boys left at the end of the year to enter university colleges, and one proceeded to a teachers’ training college.
Old pupils: The roll of distinction held by old pupils of the school continued to grow. During the year, the governors of the school and the staff heard with pleasure and great pride that Mr. Handel Davies, M.Sc., had been appointed scientific adviser to the Air Ministry.
Old pupils retained a great affection for the school and for the masters who taught them. Frequent visits were made by old pupils of every generation. Among recent visitors had been Dr. Trefor Jones, headmaster of Dorking Grammar School, and Dr. Ezer Griffiths, who recently retired from the National Physical Laboratory.
The staff. “On such occasions as these it is customary for headmasters to express their appreciation of the work of their staffs. I did so in words of great vigour and deep sincerity last year. The year which has passed has strengthened and deepened my appreciation of the quality of the staff of this school. Their admirable qualifications are rendered more valuable by the spirit in which they give themselves to the service of the boys. I know of no school where members of the staff— teaching and non-teaching — have been more closely welded together in the interest of the pupils.
“It would be invidious to particularise among such valuable colleagues, but I must mention the splendid support I have received from the senior master, Mr. J. T. Bowen, B.A., support springing from his long experience and innate wisdom, support unfailingly available in a time of great personal strain and anxiety.
“For one member of the staff, this is the last occasion on which he will appear in that capacity at a speech day. I refer to Mr. David Arthur Lewis, the able and popular handicraft master. He is a craftsman of man of exceptional endowment and a teacher of rare ability who is known widely in this district to hundreds of pupils and ex-pupils and members of the general public who have attended his evening classes. Mr. Lewis has been teaching the young men and women of Aberdare to “Do it yourself” for many years.”
BOYS’ GRAMMAR SCHOOL
This is the sixtieth year in the life of Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School, which opened with 100 pupils under the headmastership of Mr. W. Jenkyn Thomas, M.A., who is still alive and mentally alert and active at the age of 86.
Mr. Warren, the headmaster, said on School Speech Day at the Coliseum, that he had recently had the privilege of meeting Mr. Thomas, who spoke with affection and pride of the intermediate school which he had the honour to lead in the early years.
The man who occupied the headmastership for the longest period was the late Mr. Charlton Cox, M.A., whose impress was on the school for 40 years, 31 of them as headmaster.
Mr. Warren added that of the later headmasters, Mr. Gwilym Ambrose and Mr. T. B. Reynolds were still associating themselves with the fortunes of the school which they served with such distinction.
Added Mr. Warren: Throughout those years the service given by governors of the school has been a constant support. These men and women have given their time freely to the service of education in this district, and in particular to the nourishment of these grammar schools. For it is they who have been ever alive to improve equipment and to ensure that every provision is made for the efficient functioning of the school. The new building anticipated in 1939 was one of the casualties of the war. Members of the County Authority are well aware of the urgent need of re-housing the school, and when the present economic clouds disperse we may, perhaps, hope to see looming up not too far away an appropriate building for this great school.
But when we look back upon the history of this school, we must think primarily of the boys (and girls) who have passed through it —from those who entered in 1896 to those who left a week ago. Many of those pupils have come to occupy positions of the greatest distinction in every field of work and in every part of the globe. Many are playing an active part in the professional, industrial, and commercial life of this town and district. Of all of them it can be said that they gained by passing through this school. Their successes and their service should be an inspiration to every boy now in the school or to come into the school.
That we have today boys with intelligence, initiative, and public spirit of the best of our products, is shown by the incident of two or three weeks ago when the prompt action of two of our middle-school pupils—Terry Smith and John Davies—saved the life of a little boy severely burnt in a mountain fire. As long as this school has pupils of this calibre we need not fear lest the future betray the past.