The Elementary Education Act was passed in 1870, and the first Barry School Board was elected in November 1874. This board was called the Barry United District School Board and the first meeting was held in December in the Wenvoe Arms.
The board had five members: D. Davies Joseph was the Chairman, D. Griffiths, W. Lowrie, J. Thomas, and R.S Thomas. Mr Oliver Jenkins was appointed Clerk to the Board.
The first priority of the Board was to provide a school place for every child of school age. It was decided that a site for a school and a census of all the children in the area was needed. The clerk was tasked with writing to Mr Jenner in regards to looking at land for the school on Cadoxton Common. While they were waiting for the request to be granted for the land, they used a school room for the fifty seven children. The teaching staff consisted of one teacher, and a female assistant who was able to teach sewing to the female pupils and clean the classroom.
On 3rd May 1875, the School Board asked Mr Jenner for a gift of a plot of land for the school and he agreed. They then decided to ask the Public Works Loans Commission for the £645 needed to build it. The contract for building the school was given to Thomas Price and the school opened in March 1879. The first Master of the school was Mr T. P. Sargent. The first female teacher and cleaner was Miss Bailey.
Education was not free at this time and parents were required to pay fees. The charges were:
Children aged 5-7 years old 2p per week
7- 10 years old 3p per week
10 years + 4p per week
Some children were able to claim exemption if they were in poverty, and any pauper children who were under the care of the Board of Guardians had their fees paid for by them. In 1888 the Board did raise the subject of free education, and the clerk was tasked with reporting the effects that free education would have. As a result of this report, the weekly fees were discontinued in 1891, in alignment with the Elementary Education Act that was passed in the same year.
It soon became apparent that with the huge influx of men and their families into the area, when the docks were being built, that it would be necessary to build schools in other areas of Barry. The Board decided to build a school at High Street. The school cost £4,242 to build and the first master appointed there was Mr. J. W. Davies.
in 1888, the schools in Barry were becoming very overcrowded. The Board decided that the best site for a school would be next to Barry Police Station and they purchased an acre of land at a cost of £1,000. The school cost £12,344 and had room to teach 1,200 children. This was Holton Road school.
Staff at these schools had to be college trained, and to ensure there were no large classes, there were plenty of teaching staff. Holton Road was the first school in Wales to teach metalwork. Other lessons included the teaching of cookery and laundry to the female pupils together with bookbinding, turnery and other crafts.
The Barry United District School Board was then faced with providing schooling for the children of Barry Village, and in August 1891 acquired land to build Romilly School.
Further schools were needed as Barry continued to grow. St Helens was built in 1893, Barry Island School was built in 1900, together with Jenner Park and Palmerston. Gladstone School opened in 1906.
This began with the building of County Intermediate School at the Buttrills in October 1896. This was followed by a Girls Grammar School and the Glamorgan Residential Training College for Women Students. Here women were trained to become Elementary Teachers.
Reading Rooms were opened in High Street, Main Street and Holton Road in 1891. The lending library in Holton Road opened in 1892, with access to several hundred volumes of reading material. The present library was opened on King Square in 1906 and cost £8,000. This was paid for with a donation by Andrew Carnegie.
Additional Learning Needs
On 18th July 1904 a “special school” was opened at the fire station. It had sixteen pupils and was designed to provide extra support to those who needed it.
Ysgol Maes Dyfan started in…….
The site for the new school to be built on Gibbonsdown Rise.
Some of us went to Maes Dyfan !!
Ysgol Maes Dyfan remained here up until a new school – Ysgol Y Deri was built in 2014 in Penarth.
Education in 2021
Barry continues to grow and as more people live here, more schools are needed for families. With the Waterfront development there is an even greater need for schools and amenities.