Wales - Education

Education in Wales is different from the education systems in the rest of the British Isles.  This is largely due to how Welsh education started and the roll of religion in the educational process.  However since the 19th century, it closely parallels that of England. 
One significant difference is the mandatory teaching of the Welsh Language.  The language was in danger of becoming extinct.  To save it, there have been a series of acts.  The Welsh Language Act of 1967 allowed the Welsh language to also be used for legal proceeding and documents.  The Welsh Language Act of 1993, placed the Welsh language on equal footing with the English language in Wales.  The Education Reform Act of 1988 made the teaching of Welsh compulsory in public schools in Wales.  This also applies to independent schools in Wales per the Independent Schools Standards Regulations of 2003.  Students from abroad studying in Wales sometimes complain.  My response would be:   “Don’t like it, go home.”
in 1847, the infamous “Blue Books” were published.  This was a report on the state of education in Wales.  It was highly critical, especially of the Welsh Language schools.  It was against non-conformity, anti-Welsh in tone and content.  It called the Welsh immoral and illiterate.  This group of three volumes was the result of pressure from William Williams, a radical MP from Coventry.  A group of non-Welsh speaking English commissioners were selected for the review.  They were typical Sacsonaidd politicians and only relied on testimony from English landowners and Anglican Clergy in Wales.  The books were a travesty.  The Welsh reaction was furious.  
However, These books have historical value about day-to-day life in Wales, even though extremely slanted in opinion.  They can be viewed online at the National Library of Wales. 
BBC News did a review of the content of the Blue Books as follows:
“Most of the 1,252 pages discussed the state of school buildings and the standard of teaching in Wales.
But a section focused on the language and even sexual morality.
The report was written following a time of great social upheaval and change in Wales.
The country had witnessed almost a decade of disturbances from the Rebecca Riots to the Chartist Riots in Llanidloes in April 1839.
 The Welsh language is particularily evasive, which originates from its having been the language of slavery
A quote from the 1847 report
Social reformers considered education as a means of dealing with social ills.
Leading historian Dr John Davies described it as a “fascinating” and “landmark” document, but said it became known for its condemnation of the language and other “juicy bits”.
He said: “There is an enormous amount of information and a lot of it is very useful and sets the scene for the period.
“It provides details of buildings and teachers, but if people are looking for juicy details they won’t find many.
“Most of the details are about school buildings and teaching, but the tabloids of the day flicked through the report and focused on the juicy bits – things haven’t changed much.”
A spokesman for the national library in Aberystwyth said it was “impossible to over emphasize” the importance of the report, because of the wealth of information contained in it.
He added: “It also contains a direct comment on the religious and moral standing of the people of Wales.
“But the report is infamously remembered for the furor and agitation it caused in Wales because of the remarks of the three non-Welsh speaking Anglican commissioners regarding the Welsh language, nonconformity, and the morals of the Welsh people in general”.”
Scroll to Top