Faculty of Education - Theses

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    Policies in primary teacher training in Victoria 1850-1950
    Biddington, Ralph ( 1978)
    During the nineteenth century, Victoria adopted the British method of educating and training primary teachers for schools of the state. This apprenticeship based system lasted under a variety of guises (pupil teacher system, junior teacher system and student teacher system) until 1951, when it was replaced by a course of previous training at several state teachers' colleges. Most aspects of the system adopted from Britain were introduced in 1852, but they soon underwent a number of changes which made them more suitable for local needs. The supply aspect of the system dominated training because of re-occurring state financial crises. This was despite the vigorous criticisms of many professionals who emerged during and after several teachers' associations were formed between 1873 and 1886. Their criticisms gradually became much less superficial and much more directed at the system's underlying theoretical base. A significant element in the original pupil teacher system was the training institution (normal school) where the young apprentices received more advanced general and professional preparation. The training institutions in Victoria also offered previous training courses for students with some secondary education but with no experience as pupil teachers. Up to 1870, the institutions were affected by shortages of funds and serious denominational disputes, but then, a state funded secular training establishment developed and became the forerunner of the residential teachers' college erected near the University of Melbourne in 1888. These institutions contributed to the growth of a sense of professionalism amongst the colony's primary teachers. After 1900, successive ministers, faced with the opportunity of abolishing the apprenticeship based system, chose short term reforms rather than a system of previous training. However, after a long series of educational misjudgements and frustrations, due mainly to government economies, the moribund apprenticeship system of preparing primary teachers was concluded in 1951, and previous training introduced. Amongst the reasons for the abolition of the student teacher system were the strong political activities of such groups as the Education Reform Association, and the absence after 1948 of the cheap supply advantages the student teacher system and its predecessors had offered. For one hundred years the education authorities had maintained rigid control over the supply and training of its primary teachers. Hence, whenever one of the frequent supply or financial problems occurred, it was usually overcome by a government decision to increase the proportion of apprentices or by other temporary measures which paid little heed to any damage to the quality of the Service.