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Mansel
The boys in these classes have been selected from all those of about 11 years of age in the valley as a result of a test of their ability to do simple arithmetic accurately, and to write and understand written language: mostly English, though a few may have used Welsh. There are two first year classes: 1 A and 1 Alpha. The former contains those who performed better in the tests.
In the eyes of their ancestors the amazing thing about these groups of boys is their number. There are some 32 per teacher! In earlier generations boys learned the skills of the chase or the battlefield, the blacksmith or the miner, the ploughman or the herdsman by attending on one or even more men. Those who were not taught by their fathers were apprenticed or took a minor role in the work of a group of men, to learn by watching and doing. They were not capable of doing as much as a man, but they had to be doing something that went towards paying for their keep. The young farm hand might hoe or chop wood or remove stones from the soil while developing higher skills and strength. The baker’s apprentice could fetch and carry sacks of flour, clean out the oven and carry wood to re-fire it. We see these schoolboys’ forefathers shaking their heads, bewildered, "What is the value of these youths’ efforts? How are they earning their keep? Are they all noblemen’s sons? And what trade are they being trained to? Teaching?"