CYMDEITHAS HANES LLEOL RHUTHUN
RUTHIN LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETY
The Governors' Minute Book, 1964 to 1983.
(The term 'School Managers' was replaced by the term 'Governors' in 1980.)
How different was school governance back in 1964! Then there were only 6 members of the board – 2 appointed by the Education Authority, 2 by the Town Council, and the headteachers of the Infants and Juniors. Today (2018) there are 14 members of the Governing Body.
These numbers also reflect the great change in the responsibilities of the Management/Governing Body. Today, the main focus is on the quality of Teaching and Learning, which is referred to only ONCE in this twenty-year period – an observation by a Governor in 1981 that 'Greater attention is being given to the backward (sic) children to the detriment of others, and that the educational standard was unsatisfactory'.
Meetings, some only briefly minuted, generally seemed to consist of issues with the site, numbers on the school roll, and a brief report from the Heads. Until 1982, the Infant and Junior sections were run independently of each other, with two Headteachers.
However of special interest are the discussions leading up to the establishment of the Welsh Medium school on the same site in 1983 – the very last comment in the book is that 'the Welsh School is to become Ysgol Pen Barras'
The main issues in 1964 were that the infants' classroom was overcrowded, with the two language groups comprising 52 children being taught in the same room. A letter was written to the Director of Education requesting a partition or extension.
In 1968 there was concern over the capacity of the building, with the construction of 120 new houses. This was most severe for the infants, now totalling 102 in accommodation for 70. By the end of the year the 'Welsh Unit' was rehoused – but the minutes do not indicate how.
In the following year the County Architect was asked to prepare a plan for remodelling the premises, including the opening-up of two rooms upstairs in what had been the school house. The Director was invited to see the conditions, which resulted in temporary classrooms being provided 'across the field'.
It was noted that there were only 8 toilets available for 236 children.
In September 1971 the LEA announced that a new Infants School with 130 places would be in the 1973/4 building plans, and that in the short term temporary double classrooms would be provided with pre-fab units. Then in 1974 the Governors were informed that new build would be delayed through shortage of finance, and had a further assurance in the following year that it would feature in a submission to the Welsh Office for funding for 1976/7/8 construction. However in July 1976 a letter was received from the Director of Education to say that the bid was unsuccessful as 'it did not meet the funding criteria for basic provision'.
This was becoming a saga, and with no further progress imminent the Managers suggested that the old 'Social Welfare' pre-fab buildings on Llanrhydd Street could be used.
In December 1977 there was an upsurge in anger as the LEA , while recognising Rhos Street's needs, gave priority to a new school in Llangollen. A meeting of the managers and the PTA was called, and this meeting requested the director of Education to meet a deputation of managers and parents.
This meeting took place early in 1978 and the outcome was minuted as being satisfactory – the building would be surveyed for extension and conversion to accommodate both Infants and Juniors. This would be in the 1979-80 building programme.
All this would soon be overtaken by the preliminary discussions for providing Welsh Medium education in a separate school.
By 1982 the falling roles had rendered the Llanrhydd Street buildings surplus to requirements, and the Governors wrote to the Director to ask if they could be used for storage of PE and other equipment, and that they be 'sealed off from the playing field'. A November letter from the Director of Education confirmed LEA approval for this.
In the autumn term the 'English' school had to meet in Heulfre (see below0 as the remodelled buildings were not made ready until occupation on 31 January 1983.
References to the School Roll
1964 52. 32 Welsh medium, 20 English.
1981 118 (of which 25 Welsh Medium)
In 1982 the separate Welsh and English medium schools were created. At the same time the infant and Junior sections merged and nursery education introduced.
English Medium School: 124
Welsh Medium School : 50
English Medium 126
Welsh medium 96
There was, therefore, massive growth – and overcrowding – in the school in the late 60s/early70s, related to housing expansion in Ruthin. This was quickly followed by a fall in the birth rate and probably a tendency for younger people to move away fro employment.
(By 2018 the success of both schools, further house building, the return of County Town status to Ruthin, and the popularity of Welsh Medium education, had led to the two schools now accommodating some 450 pupils between them)
The Site - outside
1964: The playground was overcrowded, and balls were often hit or kicked over the wall into Rhos Street. There was no playing field at that time. In 1967 the Managers requested netting above the roadside wall.
In September 1965 Governors Mrs M Roberts and Mrs RR Williams visited Mrs Gibson of the Engineering works with a view to acquiring land for a playing field. (Gibson's Field).This land was leased from the Dee Valley Egg Packing Company of Llangollen. This seems to have occurred but is not minuted.
By 1971 there were safety concerns with the 'rough ground' on the old Workhouse land. This was levelled and resown in 1972 to form the playing field.
In 1968 a footpath to Llanrhydd Street was created.
There was then little mention of the outside environment for several years, until a February 1983 reference to the fact that after remodelling of the school(s) the builder had left the play area 'unfit for purpose'. No progress had been made with this by the following May meeting.
The School 'Split' - Two New Schools!
The first reference to the creation of two 'new' schools, English and Welsh medium, appeared in the minutes for February 1979, and preliminary plans were examined. By April, Managers were concerned – not least that a public meeting for the development of a Welsh medium school had been advertised in Welsh only, so 'English parents' (sic) did not attend.
At a subsequent bilingual meeting, held at Borthyn, the LEA announced that the separation of the schools had already been decided upon. (This meeting would probably have been called a 'consultation!... Ed.) . The Rhos Street Managers had not received any notification of this meeting. Many parental objections were ignored. The parents of Borthyn pupils had subsequently sent a letter of objection to the Welsh Office. The management board of Rhos Street decided to send their own letter of objection, not least because pupil numbers were now falling.
In November notification was received from the Welsh Office that the objections had been referred to the Secretary of State. This did not bear fruit, because the SoS responded in February 1980 stating his support for the two schools on one campus. It was minuted that 'Managers, parents and other interested parties are distressed by this decision'. It was also recorded that the Head of Brynhyfryd had opposed the proposal and had a letter published in The Daily Post. Alwyn Evans , Area Education Officer, was present at the meeting to explain the LEA's position, but no details were recorded in the minutes.
In May 1908 Alwyn Evans attended a meeting for Managers and parents at Rhos Street, but the proceedings are not recorded in these minutes.
At the September meeting the Governors – as they were now to be called – were informed that the two new schools would be operating from September 1981, whether or not the required building work was complete.
At a Special meeting of the Governing Body the following month this was modified somewhat, as Mr. Alwyn Evans reported that the buildings would be ready by July 1982, but it would be up to the Governors to decide when the schools should begin to operate under their separate identities. There was some discussion as to whether the Governors would be responsible for both schools together, to set up two governing bodies with the same membership, or to have two different, independent, governing bodies. This led to some uncertainty, but the Governors decided that the schools would not take on their separate identities until the buildings were completely ready.
Then things went quiet, on the Governors' front, for nearly a year, though at the September 1981 meeting it was minuted that there was concern over planning for the future as pupil numbers were unknown, and that some pupils might be 'manipulated' between one school or the other to fit the accommodation.
During Spring 1982 there was further discussion of the constitution of the Governing Bodies, with no decision to be made until September. However the LEA had now settled on 50 as the starting number of pupils in the Welsh School, with 80 in the English – staffing to be 3 (Welsh) and 5.3(English).
By May 1982 Alun Edwards had been appointed to be Head the Welsh school, and was added to the Governing Body. It was also decided that there would be separate Governing bodies for each school, but that they should meet together on matters of common interest.
The two schools commenced under their separate identities in September 1982, even though the 'English School' buildings were not quite ready – January completion was expected. In the interim the school would convene across the road in Heulfre. The first meeting of the Governing Body – the previous 6 with one Parent Governor. After one year two separate Governing Bodies would be created. Some parents had complained already about 'apartheid' between the children, as there were separate playgrounds, but it was stated that there were joint PE and Games lessons.
However in the May 1983 meeting both Heads reported to the Governors on the very satisfactory progress made by the two schools, and that anticipated problems had not arisen.
This would prove to be the last meeting of the Governors thus constituted, and from September each school would have its own Board with 12 Governors each.
The final comment in this Minute Book is that the Welsh school will now be called Ysgol Pen Barras.
The Headteachers were Mr. Noel Jones (Juniors) throughout this period, and Miss Gwyneth Owen (infants).Miss Owens did not wish to be considered for a post after the 1982 split.
A former Head of the school, Mr. Albert Jones, retired as a manager in 1965.
There are very few references to other individual staff.
In 1973 Mrs. Emrys Rogers was appointed as the first Deputy Head. This was as a result of the introduction of Graded Posts following the Buchanan report.
By 1978 the falling rolls were requiring a reduction in staff (By how much was not stated). In the February 1980 meeting the loss of a further teaching post was announced, but in September Eleri Parry was appointed as the first Nursery teacher.
In the March 1981 meeting Alwyn Evans referred to the possibility of 'drastic cuts' and another Governor (unnamed) referred to unsatisfactory educational standards. Mr. Noel Jones objected strongly. He had only 2.3 hours clerical assistance and was often called out to the (by then installed!) telephone. No aspersions should be cast upon the staff – there were just not enough of them.
In May 1982 Mr. Alun Edwards joined the Governing body, after his appointment as Head of the Welsh School.
A surprising omission is any reference to the departure of Gwyneth Owen after many years of service to the school.
The Governors were known as Managers until the 1980 Education Act came into force.
In 1064 there were only 6 members of the board – 2 appointed by the Education Authority, 2 by the Town Council, and the headteachers of the Infants and Juniors. Mrs. R.R Williams chaired the meetings for many years, until 1974, after which Mrs Margaret Jones fulfilled this role.
The steering committee of Governors for the two new schools welcomed the first parent Governor, Mike Baines. In November 1982.
At the final meeting recorded in the book it was recorded that the Correspondent (Clerk) for the last 15 years, Tecwyn Roberts, was retiring, thus ending a 72-year association with the school - having arrived as a pupil in 1912..
!n 1967 a request was sent to the Director of Education for a telephone to be installed. This was repeated in 1970!
What's New? In July 1971 it was minuted that 'the County's hands were tied financially owing to the national stringency'.
It was recorded that on 2nd June 1977 Jubilee medallions were disributed to the pupils by Mrs. Dyer-Gough of Nantclwyd House.
In March 1978 Ruthin Town Council made the gift of a piano.
During 1980 there was concern that the Area Education office was to be closed, and the Area Officer, Alwyn Evans, was to be transferred to Wrexham. Both proposals 'caused consternation among the Governing Body' and a letter was written to the Director of Education to express this. A rare occurrence was that the objections of the Governing Body were upheld by the LEA and in March 1981 the decision was reversed.
On 24th May 1982 a cafeteria system for lunches was introduced.
In November 1982 it was minuted that the PTA had voted in favour of the adoption of a school uniform.