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Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School

Certificate Ceremonies

school building

Cancelled Certificate Ceremony, 1914

In 1914 the Certificate Ceremony was abandoned.
Instead the Aberdare Leader printed the Annual Report to Governors for both the Boys’ School & the Girls’ School.

Aberdare County Schools.

This year the usual distribution of prizes and certificates to the pupils of above schools has been abandoned. Appended are the reports of the headmaster and the headmistress: —

HEADMASTER’S REPORT.

I have pleasure in submitting to you my annual report on the work of the school during the past twelve months. As this was the first year in which the school has been worked on the lines of a boys’ school only, it has naturally been a period of considerable re-organisation and adjustment, but I think I can with justification claim that the problems and difficulties arising out of the division of the former common staff and pupils into two separate bodies have been, or are being successfully overcome, and that new organism thus formed has settled down comfortably, while its future prospects are promising. It is but just to point out to you that this is in a large measure due to the loyalty and energy displayed throughout the year by the whole of the staff, whose willingness to undertake new duties and whole-hearted support of all measures necessitated by the re-organisation of the school deserve high praise. It is also a pleasure to me to be able to speak in terms of commendation of the behaviour work of the pupils throughout the year. In this connection I cannot do better than refer you to the closing words of the Chief Inspector’s report on his triennial inspection of the school.

Numbers on Register.— These were as follows:— Autumn Term, 1913, 137; Spring Term, 1914, 132; Summer Term, 124. This gives an average for the whole year of 131 on the Register. The average number of boys attending the school during the previous year was 132, so that the average number during the past year shows a decrease of one as compared with the previous year. In this connection it should be remembered that during the past year an unusually large number of boys left to take up positions of various kinds; otherwise the number on the Register would probably have shown a small increase.

Change of Staff.—Apart from the loss of the lady teachers who went to the Girls’ School, I have to record with regret the resignation of Mr. James Stevenson, M.A., in August, 1913, and that of Mr. W. H. Fenton, in July, 1914. Their places have been filled by the appointment of Mr. T. B. Reynolds, B.A., in October, 1913, and of Mr. P. G. Jackson, B.A., who took up his duties September last.

Inspection.— The full triennial inspection of the school by the inspectors of the Central Welsh Board was carried out in November last, when Mr. Owen Owen, M.A., (Chief Inspector), Mr. W. H. Robinson, M.A., (Assistant Inspector), Mr. J.W. Longsdon, and Dr. A. S. Way visited us on the 6th November, and the two last-named on the following day. Their full report is now in your possession, and I believe you will agree with me that it affords grounds for feeling satisfied with the work and progress of the School.

The School was also inspected on behalf of the Board of Education by Mr. B.B. Skirrow during the Spring and Summer Terms.

Examinations.— I am gratified to be able to report a continued record of success in the Central Welsh Board Annual Examinations, which were held as usual in July last. You will recollect that last year reached high-water mark as regards the number of certificates gained, viz. 75; the percentage of candidates being 66. Our record this year shows further improvement, allowing for the halving of our numbers. The number of pupils entered for the examination was 52; and of these 40 gained certificates, thus giving a percentage of 77 successful, while 32 marks of distinction were gained. Particulars certificates are as follows: — Honours, 3; Higher, 2; Senior, 18; Junior 13; Supplementary, 4. Three pupils also passed Part I. of the Board of Education Preliminary Certificate Examination; two pupils passed Part II. of the same Examination, and one pupil passed the London Matriculation Examination.

Scholarships. — On the results of the results of the Central Welsh Board Examinations the Glamorgan County Council awarded a County Scholarship of the approximate value of £40 per annum to Henry Edward Allen, and a County Exhibition of the same value to David Philip Williams. Both of these pupils have now proceeded to Cardiff University College. We have now an unbroken record of 16 years consecutively in which the School has gained one or more of these Scholarships or Exhibitions.

Corporate Life.— The social side of our school life has been well maintained. There were several notable features in it during the past year. Probably the chief of these was the School Eisteddfod, which was held on February 27th, to celebrate St. David’s Day. The proceedings, which were attended by a great number of parents and friends, were conducted practically entirely in Welsh and were marked by great interest and enthusiasm. Our thanks are due in this connection to the High Constable, who attended in his robes of office, and distributed the medals, and to the numerous ladies and gentlemen who very kindly acted as adjudicators. Another new feature on this side of the School has been the establishment of a Literary and Debating Society, which meets every Friday evening, and is carried on almost entirely by the boys themselves. The latter show great interest in this Society, and attend and take part in large numbers. On the side of athletics a very full programme has been carried out. Besides the usual House and School football and cricket matches, we held our annual athletic sports in June, and had a swimming gala at the end of the Summer Term. A further new feature was the establishment during the Summer Term of a Tennis Club for the Senior Boys, who were allowed to play for two evenings a week on the school lawn: to encourage keenness of play a tennis tournament was organised and carried out during the last week of the Summer Term, and nearly every member of the club competed in it. During the year the pupils also contributed liberally to the Senghenydd Disaster Fund and to the Welsh National Library.

Past Students.— The Past Students’ Association met at the School once a month during the winter months, and had an interesting and successful session. Past Students at the Universities continue to do well. Since the outbreak of war a large number of them have joined the various branches of the national forces. I am compiling a list of their names and venture to suggest that at the end of the present war you should provide the school with a Special Honours’ Board on which their names may be enrolled, with any further particulars that are of interest. I am sure that in the future such a record would be a source of pride and an incentive to duty for coming generations of scholars.

Future Policy.— Various suggestions as to the lines on which the School should be carried on are made in the Inspectors’ Report; many of them I have already brought before your notice. In view, however, of present circumstances, financial and otherwise, I content myself for the moment with drawing your attention to them; many of the steps mentioned are highly desirable, but it is for the Governors to decide whether it is opportune to take them in the near future, or better for the moment to defer them and to be content to carry on “Business as usual.”

W. CHARLTON COX, M.A., (Lond.)


HEADMISTRESS’ REPORT.

I have pleasure in submitting to you my first annual report on the work of the Girls’ School for the year 1913-14. I entered upon my duties as Headmistress on September 1st, 1913. The new school buildings were formally opened on September 4, the opening ceremony being performed by Mrs. Walter Lloyd. When the School began on September 16th there were in attendance 143, which number was increased before the end of term to 148. There was no falling off throughout the year, the places of those who left being filled by new comers. The actual numbers for the year were: — Autumn Term, 148. Spring Term, 148. Summer, Term, 149. It is satisfactory to be able to report a further increase this year, there being at the present time 164 on the register.

Early in the year there were some changes on the staff. Miss Morris accepted a post as Modern Language Mistress in her own old School at Carnarvon, and left us in October. Her position was taken by Miss Amy Cule Lewis, B.A., who came to us from Milford Haven County School. The Staff was further strengthened by the appointment of Miss Franks, B.A., who entered upon her duties in January.

On November 6th about three weeks after the opening of the School, the Central Welsh Board Triennial Inspection took place. Mr. Owen Owen, Chief Inspector; Mr. Robinson and Miss S. Price, Assistant Inspectors, spent two days in the Girls’ School. Their report, recently received, will have been read by you. We were also visited in the Autumn Term by Mr. Owen M. Edwards, H.M. Chief Inspector of the Welsh Department of the Board of Education. The Drill Inspection took place in the Summer Term, and was carried out by the County Council Inspectress, Miss Strid, who awarded the School Shield for proficiency to Form III.

In respect of Examinations, the record for this first year is satisfactory. In the C.W.B. Exams, we gained 4 Higher, 9 Senior, 15 Junior, and 5 Supplementary Certificates. Five pupils obtained the Preliminary Teachers’ Certificate. At the Cardiff Entrance Scholarship Exam. in April, Amy Minty won the Caroline Williams Scholarship.

As regards the social side of school work a good beginning was made in various directions. One day in the Autumn and Easter Terms was set apart as a Parents’ Day. Judging by the large numbers who took advantage of the invitation to visit the School and see it under normal working conditions, the privilege of so doing was greatly appreciated. The games of Badminton, Net Ball and Tennis were played in their seasons, and were heartily enjoyed by the girls. During the Summer also some very successful Form Picnics took place.

The School showed its sympathy with the sufferers in the Senghenydd Disaster by a generous contribution to the Relief Fund. It also earned the right to a proprietary interest in the National Library of Wales by sparing quite a large proportion of its pocket money to swell the local fund.

By the end of the Summer Term the School Library was ready for use, and in that connection I feel I ought to mention, with appreciation, the help given by the prefects for the year in arranging and cataloguing.

In closing this report I have to express my thanks to the Governors for their ever sympathetic consideration of the needs of the School, and to the members of the Staff for their loyal co-operation in the work.

MARGARET S. COOK. M.A.

Below is a press report of the governors’ meeting from The Aberdare Leader of 7 November 1914, when it was decided to award no prizes for this year. This was in addition to the cancelled Distribution of Certificate Ceremony,

Aberdare County Schools.

A meeting of the Aberdare County Schools Governing Body was held on Monday. There were present: Ald. T. L. Davies (in the chair), Mrs. Walter Lloyd, Mrs. Griffiths, Mrs. Botting, Mrs. E. Williams, Mrs. Rose Davies, Messrs. T. Lewis, G. A. Treharne, L. N. Williams. J.P., T. Walter Williams, B.Sc., W. Thomas, with Mr J. D. Thomas, clerk; Mr W. C. Cox, M.A., headmaster Boys’ School, and Miss Cook, M.A., headmistress Girls’ School.

Grant to a Student.

Mr T. Williams, Upper Park Lodge, Aberdare, had written stating that his son, D. P. Williams, had won a scholarship at Cardiff University, and inasmuch as his (the father’s) wage was so low he requested the Governors to grant a small sum to enable him to pay the initial expenses. Mr L. N. Williams: Is that usually done? Clerk: Miss Minty’s case was the first. We have power to make such a grant. Mrs. Davies moved that the grant be conceded, viz., £10. This was agreed to.

Regarding Interpreters.

Mr W. Thomas moved that Miss Griffiths and Mr B. Reynolds, two of the teachers, be allowed to act as interpreters to the Belgian refugees periodically for say a period of three months, to assist them to do their shopping, etc. Miss Cook said that it would be difficult to spare any of the teachers from the Girls’ School. Mr Cox remarked similarly regarding the Boys’ School. He mentioned several ladies and gentlemen in town who were quite capable and also willing to act as interpreters. On the proposition of Mr G. A. Treharne it was decided to leave the matter in the hands of the clerk, the headmaster and headmistress.

Headmistress’ Report.

Miss Cook gave her first annual report. She stated that the present number on the register was 164 as compared with 148 in previous terms. The Chairman considered the report very satisfactory, and several members concurred.

Headmaster’s Report.

Mr. Cox also gave his report. He remarked that this being the first year of the institution as a separate boys’ school there was a considerable amount of readjusting and reorganising to be done. Mr Cox then dealt in detail with the various activities of the school, and its progress during the year. The number of the pupils was 137.

A Roll of Honour.

On the suggestion of Mr T. Walter Williams it was resolved that the Clerk prepare a list of the old boys who had gone on active service, and that should any of them fall in the war a memorial tablet be erected in honour of them.

No Prizes this Year.

It was decided that there should be no distribution of prizes this year owing to the effect of the present crisis on the finances, and that the position of affairs be explained to the pupils by the headmaster and headmistress.


Footnotes

  1. The numbers on roll at the Boys’ School, an average of 131, suggests that planning for the loss of the girls in July 1913, was not properly carried out. The school’s numbers were normally substantially larger, for example even in the much earlier 1906-07 session the average on roll was 368, yet the facilities and accommodation did not change significantly post 1913 to match the much smaller number of pupils. Indeed, the Girls’ School, in its first year, had numbers on roll that exceeded those on the Boys’ roll. A similar reduction occurred when Abercynon and Mountain Ash pupils left in 1907 when the Mountain Ash County School opened, resulting in a drop of 89 pupils in 1907-08 compared to the previous academic year.
  2. Staff Changes: James Stevenson left for a Commercial Lectureship at St. Helens, Lancashire; W.H. Fenton to be Manager of Dominion Business College, Winnipeg, Canada. The new staff: T.B. Reynolds was appointed to teach French, with some mathematics, whilst P.G. Jackson came to teach mathematics, science and Commercial Subjects.
  3. Inspection: in the early days the Welsh County Schools were subject to a system of double inspection. The inspections were carried out by the Central Welsh Board, C.W.B., and separately by the government body The Board of Education. This dual burden was not popular with the headteachers of these schools.
  4. Examinations: at this time there were four levels of examination administered by the C.W.B. : Honours, Highers, Senior and Junior, as well as the separate preliminary examinations for intending teachers.
  5. Boys’ School Tennis: the school lawn referred to in the report was the large area of grass in front of School House, the headmaster’s residence. This was lost in 1960 when a dining hall/assembly hall was built there.
  6. The Senghenydd Colliery Disaster referred to by both headteachers occurred on 14 October 1913.
  7. Staff Changes at the Girls’ School: Miss Amy Cule Lewis was appointed to teach History and English. She remained in post for six years before moving to Neath County School. Miss Nellie Franks was appointed to teach mathematics, Latin and music. She left in 1916, moving to Doncaster High School.
  8. A note on some of the Governors:
    Thomas Luther Davies, (1861-1936), was a mining engineer and colliery manager who lived in initially in Cwmaman. His obituary can be found in The Aberdare Leader dated 25 July 1936;
    Mrs Walter Lloyd, (Mary Smith Lloyd), was the widow of Walter Lloyd printer and publisher of Y Gwladgarwr newspaper;
    Mrs Griffiths may have been the wife of the Headteacher of Park School, John Griffiths;
    Mrs Botting was the wife of the Director of Education of the Aberdare Education Committee — Mr. Thomas Botting, J.P., B.A., B.Sc.;
    Mrs Rose Davies (1882-1958) had a most remarkable career in local, county and Welsh politics. She was chairman of the School governors 1928-31 and 1949-58, but more importantly, she became the first woman chairman of the old Glamorgan County Council. She was twice honoured: in the 1934 birthday honours she was awarded an MBE, which was upgraded to a CBE 20 years later. Her maternal grandfather was the well-known late-Victorian Aberdare photographer Joseph Lendon Berry.;
    Lewis Noah Williams was a prominent Aberdarian. He was the Williams of ‘E. Thomas and Williams, Cambrian Lampworks.’
  9. Regarding Interpreters: this agenda item refers to the Belgian refugees who were welcomed to Aberdare during the First World War. There is a long account of the matter in The Aberdare Leader of October 31st, 1914, page 3. The account, covering their welcome at Aberdare; their departure from Antwerp; the activities of Siloa, Trinity, and other churches to help refugees, can be read from an original on-line copy of The Leader here, [NB use the slider to magnify the page so that the text becomes legible]. There are also two photographs of some of the refugees in the Rhondda Cynon Tâf Photographic Archive.
    As well as living in Gadlys Road, accommodation was also provided, free of rent, in Llwydcoed by Aberdare-born Mr James Windsor Lewis. Ironically, in June 1916 whilst with the Welsh Guards Lieut. Lewis was killed in action at Ypres, Belgium.