A History of Education in Wales

A History of Education in Wales

A History of Education in Wales

A History of Education in Wales


This authoritative survey provides a comprehensive overview of the evolution of the Welsh education system from its earliest times to the present day, and examines the way in which changes in education policy have affected the Welsh economy and altered the political relationships between Wales, the United Kingdom, and the National Assembly of postdevolution Wales.


Does Wales have a history of education? If printed record is a significant criterion the evidence is discouraging, since no extended narrative history exists. It must surely be time to attempt one – especially in the context of devolution and the unfolding of a distinctive education policy for Wales.

In subtler ways the time may be ripe. If we had posed the question in the 1950s, the parameters of any discussion would have been different. the unwritten assumption would have been that we were asking whether there was in Wales a history of formal education, even a history of statesponsored or state-controlled formal education. Effectively, though not exclusively, in the United Kingdom the concentration was on the history of education after the Industrial Revolution. This makes some sense if our concern is with mass education. in Wales, as more generally, the nature of state involvement in education changed substantially with industrialization (whatever the controversies over the nature of the correlation) as government eventually took responsibility for the education of all its citizens. in the end it compelled them to go to school.

The history of education up until the 1950s or 1960s, then, tended to be about state involvement, Acts of Parliament relating to education, education in schools and other institutions. Such a restricted definition seemed to affect adversely the status of the history of education as a university discipline because it tended not to form part of the general social history which was then becoming so significant, particularly in the case of the history of Wales. the implications for any Welsh perspective were even more serious, because Wales was an addendum in the ‘England and Wales’ state.

In more recent decades fashions have changed, prompted originally by American initiatives. Most historians now root the study of formal education in the wider society. They take a much broader definition which involves all-embracing frames of reference, for example looking at educational experience from the point of view of children, and including more informal training and skills. If education is a much wider process than . . .

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