Faculty of Education - Theses

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    Relationships between the University of Melbourne and the secondary schools of Victoria, 1890-1912
    Clements, McKenzie Alexander ( 1979)
    For fifty years, from 1856 to 1905, the matriculation examination of the University of Melbourne dominated secondary education in the colony of Victoria. The colony's only public examination, it served the purpose of University entrance examination, civil service examination, school exit examination, and last, but not least, a public check of the efficiency of secondary schools. The matriculation examination was criticised severely in the late 1880s and throughout the 1890s, following spirited debate in England on the value of competitive examinations, but it seemed that the colonial secondary schools were locked into the examination and that reform was unlikely. Suddenly, in 1904 and 1905, the hold of the examination was loosened; in 1912 it was loosened still more. For fifty-two years after the reform of 1912 secondary school examinations in Victoria were administered by the Schools Board of the University of Melbourne. The three developments by which this remarkable change was effected were the Registration of Teachers and Schools Act of 1905, the institution by the University in 1904-1906 of a system of junior and senior public and commercial examinations, and the establishment in 1912 of the Schools Board, which contained a majority of representatives of the schools. How did these reforms, so unexpected and far-reaching, come about? The answer is sought in a detailed investigation of the state of the Victorian secondary schools between 1890 and 1901, especially in a period of five or six years around the turn of the century, and of the politics of Victorian secondary and higher education between 1890 and 1904, and between 1905 and 1912. The investigation divides naturally into three parts: Part I consists of a study of Victorian secondary schools over the period 1890-1905; Part II of an analysis of relationships between the secondary schools and the University of Melbourne over the same period; and Part III of a description and interpretation of the events between 1906 and 1912 which culminated in the formation of the Schools Board. (From Abstract)