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History of Ysgol Parc y Bont School from 1880 to 1889

1880 - References to poor attendance are frequently made, and on one occasion early in the year three parents of persistent absentees are summoned to appear before the magistrates at Menai Bridge court “for neglecting to send their children to school.” This appears to have had some affect as subsequent reference read: “Attendance good and much improved.” Such a pleasing trend, however, was not to last long, as the attendance again is recorded “as bad as ever”  Pupils on school roll at the end of March is given as ninety four.

In April 1880, Mr. Butler was recognised as qualified and ‘received his certificate.’ It appears that absenteeism is still a formidable problem. In an attempt to resolve it the school committee ‘directed all those persisting to neglect to attend to report themselves at the Union House, Bangor.’ What affect this had is not mentioned. None one assumes, as a reference to bad attendance soon and often re-appear in the School’s Log. In May of this year a special school committee was convened about which Mr. Butler records: “The committee considered that I had increased my salary too much and called on me to surrender a quarter of the government grant, which I refused, they afterwards wanted me to give up £5 of my fixed stipend, and this I also refused. The result of the refusals being given Notice to Quit.” The school committee met again soon afterwards and resolved to seek and appoint a successor to Mr. Butler.

On 31 August 1880, this note appears in the log: “I, R. E. Butler, give up charge of this school today!” The newly appointed headmaster was Mr. H. S. Griffiths.

1881 - The log records very heavy snowstorms at the beginning of the year causing drifts of six feet, all modes of transport being paralysed. On 18th January the few children in the school were obliged to remain on the premises, whether overnight is not indicated. Early in February the great thaw began, accelerated by exceptionally heavy rains, which caused widespread flooding. The school roll at the end of March shows eighty-nine pupils; Harry J. Griffiths (head); Mrs. S. Griffiths (assistant) and two monitors, Frances Wright and Jane Edwards. Later in the year Mrs. Griffiths terminated her appointment and was replaced by Mr. Hugh Hughes, Penbryn, Llangaffo. He was the first male assistant at the school. Mr. Hughes, however, did not remain long and his services were dispensed with in February of the following year. In September there was much excitement as ‘the whole school treated to a party on the premises at the expense of Lord Boston on the occasion of his coming of age.’

1882 - Mr. Griffiths gives his notice to terminate his services as headmaster because ‘”he place does not agree with my wife and the house is damp.” Mr Griffiths was persuaded, however, by the school committee to withdraw his notice. The school was inspected in April, and a scathing report was issued on the staff and on the educational abilities of the pupils. Both monitors were disqualified and ‘issue of certificate to headmaster deferred until better results are obtained.’ Early in May the school committee met at which the master requested the sum of £10 in order to engage an assistant; this being refused, he promptly gave his “Notice to Quit.” “Sent children home for their money,” and again later in the month “children sent home for their money, one girl threw a stone and broke a school window.”

The last entry made in the log by Mr. Griffiths is on 26th May 1882; for some unexplained reason pages 127 and 130 are torn out. Subsequent entries are in Mr. Butler’s hand. He seems to have been reinstated headmaster of the school once more with Mrs. Butler as his assistant and the master’s brother to deputise in the absence of either.

December 1882 - “Attendance well below 50%, attendance office very busy in this area, but absenteeism continues.”  This is the first mention of an attendance office. He was later to become known locally as the ‘Children’s Policeman.’

March 1883 - The first mention of a woman cleaner at the school. “She was told off for neglecting her duties.” The practice of school cleaning by the children presumably ceased in consequence of this appointment.

April 1883 - “Attendance low owing to children employed on local farms to plant potatoes, attendance officer not often seen in the parish.”  The Attendance Officer probably did not receive the kindest of receptions from parents, especially at times when the children’s gains at seasonal work would help the family budget.

May 1883 - “The master’s brother made full time assistant, Mr. Butler up-graded to second class.“ The continued poor attendance at the school is viewed with much concern by the committee, “the Attendance Office being neglectful of his duties appointed another, Mr. Coles, to serve Llanddaniel and Llanedwen Parishes.”

June 1883 - “two families summoned to appear at Menai Bridge court for persistently allowing absence of their children from school.”

July 1883 - Mr. Butler complains about the backwardness of his pupils and notes “so that it is very hard to beat much into their heads.”

October 1883 - “ a pupil of the school died of typhoid fever.”

December 1883 - “Several children absent, accompanying parents in the custom of begging.” This reference indicates the prevalence of poverty among the peasantry at that time. It prevailed in some degree well into the early thirties of the present century.

1884 - Mention is made of the presence of the Anglesey Hunt in the area, “seven boys absent as a result without my permission, will have to punish them tomorrow.’ The following day they were duly caned ‘except one, who refused to put his hand out and sent home for such refusal.’

June 1884 - ”Mr Butler’s mother passed away, school closed for whole week.’” Seven of the infants played truant yesterday for which I had to whip them all.’

December 1884 - “Rev J. T. Jones visited the school today and bought with him a large bottle of pineapple drops to be divided among the pupils.” This is the first mention of gifts to the school at Christmas time.

For 1885 and 1886 the log contains little in interest.

1887 - ‘Funeral of Mr. John Williams, Plough Inn, Llanddaniel.’

November 1887 - “School closes due to measles, every house in Llanddaniel is affected.”

March 1889 - “Mr. Coles, Relieving Office, makes frequent calls to check on pauper children.”

October 1889 - “Repairs to walls, windows painted and coal shed built. Mr. Butler’s stipend increased by £10.”
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