The Victorian agricultural high schools : origins, development and failure: with special reference to Ballarat, Sale, Shepparton and Wangaratta agricultural high schools
AuthorMartin, Rodney Albert
Document TypeMasters Coursework thesis
CitationsMartin, R. A. (1977). The Victorian agricultural high schools : origins, development and failure: with special reference to Ballarat, Sale, Shepparton and Wangaratta agricultural high schools. Masters Coursework thesis, Education, The University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
Deposited with permission of the author. © 1977 Rodney Albert Martin
The concept of the vocational secondary school is not unique to Victoria and, as in other places, the questions of its origin, development and success or failure are integrally tied to the political, social and economic conditions of its environment. The agricultural high schools of Victoria, established in the first decade of this century, were not, as some would have us believe, poorly considered experiments proposed by a few optimistic educators in a fledgling State which provided education for its children only up to grade six level. Rather, they represented the first major move by an ambitious young Director of Education, Frank Tate, into a field hitherto dominated by independent interests. That they were vocational, that they were rural, was determined by the political and economic realities of the time: that they were failures was determined by the liberal philosophies and, therefore, approach of Tate and other department men, and by the social realities in a State where industrialization and resultant social mobility militated against any attempt to keep the boys "down on the farm". Poorly constructed, and unwanted by the rural populace, the vocational aspect of the agricultural high schools was, in the main, dysfunctional to the composition of Victorian society, and the thinly veiled contempt of the Education Department could be seen in the words and deeds of its administrators. But they had to pay lip-service to their political masters, and the façade was necessarily maintained until long after the passing of the 1910 Education Act, the composition of which, had Tate been so allowed, would have brought to fruition his dream of a large and integrated State secondary system. When it finally disappeared from the Victorian educational scene, the agricultural course was lamented by few. It had been, however, the necessary medium through which the initial steps along the road to a State-wide system of secondary education had been taken. The schools lived on, as district high schools, and helped to provide the model for that system.
Keywordsagricultural high schools; agricultural education; vocational secondary schools; Victoria; history
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