|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
Education prior to 1848
Schools in the Port Phillip District were not subject to direct Government administration until 1848 when the Government of New South Wales established the Denominational School Board (VA 703) and the Board of National Education (VA 920). Prior to that time financial assistance either in the form of masters' stipends or a subsidy in proportion to local contributions was granted to schools established by recognized religious denominations and some assistance was given to parents who could not afford to pay the school fees.
In 1844 a Select Committee of the Legislative Council was appointed "to enquire and report upon the state of education in the Colony and to devise the means of placing the education of youth upon a basis suited to the wants and wishes of the community".
The Committee was critical of the denominational system which it considered to be excessively costly and reported that it considered the present state of education in the Colony to be extremely deficient and that many children were receiving no education at all. The Committee recommended that one uniform system of education be established.
Although the Legislative Council endorsed the report by a slim majority, Governor Gipps did not sanction the necessary appropriations to implement the Committee's recommendations since he believed that without the co-operation of the Ministers of religion who were opposed to the recommendations it would not be possible to establish a useful general system of education.
By 1847 however, the church authorities were prepared to accept the establishment of dual boards and systems in return for increased state aid. On 4 January 1848, a General Education Board was formed for the regulation and inspection of schools to be conducted under Lord Stanley's System ie. the Irish National System which had been established by Lord Stanley in his capacity as Chief Secretary for Ireland. This system provided for the non-sectarian education of children at locally administered schools which were responsible to a national board.
Board of National Education (N.S.W.) (VA 920) 1848
The Board of National Education was established under the provisions of An Act to incorporate the Board of Commissioners for National Education. (II Vic.,No.48 in 1848) which authorised the Board to acquire and hold lands and buildings. George William Reesden was appointed as Southern Agent for the Board. Under the General Instructions for the Agents in Establishing National Schools dated 23 June 1849, agents were required to encourage the establishment of new schools chiefly in those localities where education had not previously been available and were not expected to advocate the establishment of National Schools in areas where denominational schools were already in existence. The Agents were required to arrange public meetings, to provide copies of the Board's regulations, to explain the features of the National system and to assist with the selection of local patrons. They were also required to provide the Board with descriptions of proposed school sites which in settled districts were to be not less than two acres and elsewhere not less than ten acres; to report on the suitability of the proposed local patrons; to provide statistical information regarding prospective students and to provide information on the practicability of establishing industrial schools and associated boarding homes for children. The Board considered that thirty children was the minimum number of students to justify the granting of aid for the establishment of a school.
The Commissioners were prepared to grant aid towards the building and support of elementary schools and a limited number of industrial schools on the condition that at least one third of school building costs was subscribed by local residents. Under the Board's regulations of May 1848, applications for aid were to include the names of not less than three local patrons who were to be responsible to the Board. If a Crown grant of land was unobtainable, applications were to include a description of the proposed school site and the nature of its title; a conveyance of the fee simple (or lease where specifically agreed upon) was to be made to the Board of Commissioners. Upon approval of the application a plan and specification together with an estimate of expenditure was to be supplied by the local patrons.
The Commissioners were prepared to contribute part of the cost of establishing the school house and to provide school books and equipment. The Board was responsible for the appointment of teachers but was prepared to consider recommendations from local patrons.
Local patrons were responsible for the provision and maintenance of school buildings and equipment, the setting and expenditure of school fees, the inspection of school records and for monitoring and reporting on the conduct of teachers in the discharge of their duties. They were required to report annually to the Board.
To the extent that it applied to the Colony of Victoria, the 1848 Act establishing the Board of National Education was repealed with the passing of Act to incorporate the Board of Commissioners for National Education 15 Vic., No.7, 1851, following Victoria's separation from New South Wales.
Denominational School Board (VA 703) 1848-1862
The Denominational School Board was appointed in January 1848 "for the temporal regulation and inspection of the respective Denominational schools of the Colony within the district of Port Phillip" and was directed "to draw up a code of regulations for the conduct and inspection of schools of the different denominations, the appointment and remuneration of school masters,... the system and extent of degree of education to be taught in the schools and the terms on which the children of paupers will be admitted - in fact all that relates to the fiscal and temporal part of education." (Colonial Secretary to Denominational School Board, 4 January 1848. Archives Office New South Wales).
The Board was responsible for the distribution of funds to denominational schools from an annual Parliamentary grant and a proportion of the Church and Schools Estates Revenue. On 11 February 1848 a Denominational School Board for the Port Phillip District was appointed. For a short period, following separation and prior to the establishment of the Board of National Education for the Colony of Victoria (also known as the National School Board) on 30 December 1851, the Denominational School Board was appointed to conduct business relating to National Schools.
On 8 July 1851 a Select Committee was appointed "to enquire into and report upon the present systems of instruction of youth in this Colony, receiving support from the public revenue.....and to recommend, if found requisite, a plan of education better adapted to the wants of the Community." (See Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council, Session 1852-3). The Select Committee, whilst acknowledging the differences of opinion within the community and noting that the Denominational and the Irish National System were each supported by a large section of the community, declined to recommend that the separate systems be continued in their present form. They noted the problems caused by the rivalry and hostility between the promoters of each of the two systems and the unnecessary costs involved in supporting a dual administration. Given the conflict of opinion, they considered that a mere amalgamation of the Boards was not feasible and recommended instead a scheme based on a plan of the Committee of Privy Council on Education be implemented.
The Committee advocated that the only requirements necessary to obtain support for a school be its efficiency in imparting sound literary and moral education and the absence of any rules requiring compulsory religious instruction. They recommended that all schools receiving assistance be known as public schools and that a single Board consisting of four laymen be appointed with responsibility for the administration of all matters connected with public instruction and the sole management of the funds allocated.
The recommendations of the Select Committee were not implemented, debate on the issue ensued for a further ten years and Victoria continued to have a dual system of publicly funded schools.
Establishment of the National School Board 1852-1862 (VA 919)
The Board of National Education for the Colony of Victoria, commonly known as the National School Board (VA 919) was established in 1852 under the provisions of An Act to incorporate the Board of Commissioners for National Education 15 Vic.,No.7. It took over the role previously carried out by the New South Wales Board of Education and was responsible for the oversight of schools outside the ambit of the Denominational School Board. The members of the Board were appointed by the Governor with the advice of the Executive Council and the Board was responsible for the distribution of funds to schools, the management and government of schools, the appointment of teachers and the inspection and maintenance of schools.
Establishment of the Board of Education (VA 713) 1862
The Board of Education was established in 1862 under the provisions of An Act for the better Maintenance and Establishment of Common Schools in Victoria 25 Vic.,No.149. This Act repealed An Act to incorporate the Board of Commissioners for National Education which had established the National School Board (VA 919) and all property previously vested in that Board was vested in the Board of Education. The Denominational School Board was dissolved, land and school buildings were to continue to be vested in the trustees who were also empowered to transfer them to the Board of Education or sell them and apply the proceeds to educational purposes. The personal property of the Denominational School Board was to be vested in the Board of Education.
The Governor-in-Council was empowered to appoint five laymen as Commissioners provided that no two members of the Board were to belong to the same religious denomination. The Board was responsible for the distribution of funds, for determining where schools should be established, the inspection of schools, the examination and classification of teachers, the determination of a course of secular study to be adopted in schools and the setting of school fees. The Board was also responsible for the appointment of staff and for ensuring that funds allocated were properly used.
The Act provided for the appointment of an Inspector-General; established a minimum number of pupils for the granting of aid; regulated the establishment of new schools; provided for a minimum of four hours secular instruction each day, prohibited exclusion of pupils or grounds of religious persuasion and provided for the education of destitute children. The Act also provided for the appointment of local committees which were to be responsible to the Board.
Education Act 1872 and establishment of the Education Department (VA 714)
Victoria was the first of the colonies to introduce free, compulsory and secular education with the passing of the Education Act 1872 (No.447). School attendance increased by approximately fifty percent as soon as education became free and compulsory.
The Education Act was born out of dissatisfaction with the form and content of education as well as the controversy over religion and education. The Higginbotham Royal Commission in September, 1866 recommended, inter alia, that a Minister of Public Instruction, responsible to Parliament, have a general superintendence over education in Victoria. Higginbotham introduced a Bill, based on his suggestions, to Parliament in May, 1867 but it received only a luke-warm response.
In 1869 the Eighth Report of the Board of Education stated that the Board was in favour of compulsory education. By 1870 only two thirds of the population of Victoria aged between five and fifteen attended school. In August, 1870 the Education Act (British) was passed and set up elementary schools in England although attendance there was not compulsory.
In December, 1871 a Bill was introduced into Parliament by Sir James McCulloch for compulsory, though not free, education. This Bill proposed the abolition of aid to denominational schools. The Government collapsed in June 1872. In September, 1872 the Attorney-General in the Francis Ministry, J.W. Stephen, introduced an Education Bill. It was passed in December, 1872 and came into force on 1 January, 1873. This Act abolished the Board of Education and established a Department of Education under a Minister of Public Instruction. The Department of Education controlled all aspects of State primary education. At the same time church authorities responsible for the then existing Church Schools were permitted to, and did retain, an independent system, although State aid to these schools ceased in January, 1874.
The Education Act 1872 provided for the establishment of a separate portfolio for education. From the achievement of responsible government in 1855 to the appointment of the new Minister, the Chief Secretary (VRG 26) had been responsible for Education. The Act also provided for the establishment of a Department of Education consisting of a Secretary, an Inspector General, inspectors, teachers and such other officers as were deemed necessary. The Act provided that education should be free and secular and that school attendance was to be compulsory for children between the ages of six and fifteen. State Schools were to be established whenever required and teachers became public servants. Religious instruction was not permitted during school hours and Boards of Advice were to be established as guardians of school property and were to induce parents to send their children to school.
James Wilberforce Stephen was the first Minister of Public Instruction, with the first Secretary, H.P. Venables, as the Permanent Head.
Royal Commissions between 1872 and 1901
The working of the 1872 Act was scrutinised by three Royal Commissions between 1872 and 1901. The Royal Commission of 1877-78 under the direction of C.H, Pearson recommended minor additional duties for the Boards of Advice as well as other improvements to the education system. It had little immediate effect. The Commission of 1881-84 under J.W, Rogers, and later J.M.Templeton, supported religious instruction of a non-sectarian nature in State schools. However, no legislation resulted from either Commission. In 1886 Pearson became the Minister for Public Instruction and could implement some of his suggestions of 1877-78.
The Education Act 1889 incorporated some of these changes, including the lowering of the school age to thirteen and a provision for school instruction to cover lessons in temperance and health. The Education Act 1890 consolidated the law relating to education.
The Fink Royal Commission of 1899-1901, although ostensibly relating to Technical Education, made far - reaching recommendations affecting all levels of education. In terms of the administration of the Education Department, the Commission stressed that the Permanent Head should be an 'educationalist of high standing and administrative skill' and recommended that the Inspector-General of Schools should be appointed to the office of the Secretary.
The Education Act 1901 introduced many changes based upon the recommendations of the Fink Commission, A Director of Education from the professional ranks of the Public Service was appointed with responsibility for the administration of the Acts, whilst the Office of Inspector-General was abolished. Mr Frank Tate was appointed as the first Director on 26 February, 1902. Teacher payment by results was also abolished under this Act.
Changes arising from the Education Act 1910
The next major administrative change resulted from the Education Act 1910. The Boards of Advice were abolished and school committees were set up to take their place. The office of the Secretary of Public Instruction was also abolished. Another change resultant from the Education Act 1910 was the establishment of the Council of Public Education (VA 2310) to replace the Teachers and Schools Registration Board (VA 2309) which had previously controlled the registration of non-Government schools and teachers. The functions of the new Council were to supervise employment and training of teachers and to report to the Minister on matters relating to the development and general administration of education. It also oversaw the standards of independent schools.
The 1910 Act also provided for the establishment of higher elementary schools and technical schools by the State, and so created two new administrative divisions. The first Chief Inspector of Technical Schools was appointed in 1911 and the first Chief Inspector of Secondary Schools was appointed in 1914. However, the original position of Chief Inspector (Primary Schools) seemed to involve some responsibility for all schools until 1925 when the office of Chief Inspector of Primary Schools was organised officially.
Administrative and Legislative Change 1949-1970's
The administration of education and the structure of the Education Department remained relatively stable from 1910. In 1920 a Secretary was reappointed to the Education Department and an Assistant Chief Inspector of Secondary Schools was appointed in 1937. In 1941 legislation was passed to protect children from expulsion on religious or political grounds and in 1943 the school leaving age was raised to fifteen years.
In 1949 the Minister of Education Act changed the title of Minister of Public Instruction to that of Minister of Education. The Education (Religious Instruction) Act 1950 provided for religious instruction in State Schools, but it did not make it compulsory.
The 1960's saw several administrative changes within the Department. In 1964 the Primary Schools Division was divided into five areas - Northern, Southern, Eastern, South-Eastern and Western - all under Assistant Chief Inspectors who were in turn responsible to the Chief Inspector of Primary Schools.
Pursuant to the Education and Teaching Services Act 1967, the position of Director of Education became the Director-General of Education and in 1968 the Chief Inspectors became Directors of Education under the provisions of the Act. Two new Directorates were also established. These were for Teacher Education (under the Superintendent of Teacher Education since 1961) and Special Services which covered aspects ranging from physical education to welfare. In 1971 an Assistant Director of Teacher Education was created.
Thus by 1971 there was a Minister of Education, an Assistant Minister and a Director-General. Under them were three Assistant Directors-General - one of whom was the deputy to the Director-General; another was concerned with forward planning and survey and statistics, and the third looked after school buildings and educational facilities. There were also five Directors of Education encompassing the areas of Primary Education, Secondary Education, Technical Education, Teacher Education and Special Services. There was also a Secretary who controlled the thirteen administrative divisions.
The Director of Teacher Education was responsible for matters relating to studentships, the recruitment and in-service training of teachers and the administration of teachers' colleges. The Director of Special Services administered a variety of areas including schools for mentally and physically handicapped children and other specialist schools.
The Education (Handicapped Children) Act 1973 made provision for an increase in the number of Assistant Directors-General to four. The new position was for an Assistant Director-General of Special Education and Specialist Services. In 1975 the number of Assistant Directors-General was increased to five under the Education (Amendment) Act.
The Education (Minister of Special Education) Act 1976 made provision for the appointment of a Minister of Special Education who shared administrative responsibility with the Minister of Education until 1979 when this arrangement ended.
Review and restructure of educational administration and policy in the 1980's
From the mid 1970's and particularly during the 1980's the administration of education was frequently reviewed and restructured. There were many changes in policy and direction and several radical re-organisations of the Education Department and its schools and of the associated statutory authorities and advisory boards.
In 1980 there was a Minister of Education, an Assistant Minister of Education, a Director-General, and five Assistant Directors-General, responsible for Personnel, Finance, Administration, Curriculum, and Buildings. Under them were nine Directors, each representing one of the nine divisions of the Education Department - Personnel, Teacher Education, Administrative Services, Special Services, Planning Services, Building Operations, and the teaching Divisions: Primary, Secondary and Technical. The administrative services section was divided into eight branches - Accounts and Finance, Central Registry, Computer Services, General Correspondence Branch, Library Education Department, Management Services Unit, Stores and Transport Branch.
However, this structure was under review. In 1979 the new Minister for Education, Mr Hunt announced a complete review of education to identify the aims and objectives of education and to determine the strategies, structures and administrative changes that would best assist in achieving them. On 10 December, 1980 the Government White Paper on Strategies and Structures for Education in Victorian Government Schools was presented to Parliament. Basically, it proposed the taking of power and responsibility from the centre and giving it to the regions and the schools. Mr. Hunt stated that administrative and organisational reform of the Education Department was urgent. A firm of management consultants (PA Australia) was commissioned to prepare a detailed plan for re-organisation of the central and regional offices of the department. A Steering Committee was appointed to oversee the implementation process.
The Education (Amendment) Act gave effect to many of the proposed changes. Section 4 described the new structure; "There should be an Education Department consisting of a Minister of Education, a Minister of Educational Services, a Director-General of Education, a Deputy Director-General of Education, Executive Directors (not more than four), Regional Directors, professional officers, teachers and such other officers as are necessary." A Victorian Education Council to advise the Minister was also provided for under this Act but it was never established.
By February 1982 the re-structuring was under way. Gone were the four Assistant Directors-General and the nine divisional Directors, including those responsible for the three teaching divisions. They were replaced by Executive Directors. A new office called the Office of the Co-Ordinator General of Education was created. It was to operate as a 'small think-tank' to co-ordinate all sectors of Victorian education. Dr Lawrie Shears, previously Director-General of Education, was placed in charge. This office was abolished on the retirement of Dr Shears in 1984.
However before the recommendations could be fully implemented the Liberal Government lost power and the Australian Labor Party, under Mr. John Cain, assumed Office. The new Labor Government pursued the basic objectives of the White Paper, with only minor changes. One specific change was the repeal of Section 3 of the 1981 Amendment Act which had established the position of Minister of Educational Services. This was made possible under the Education (Amendment) Act 1983 and was in accordance with the Labor Party policy of single Ministers for portfolios.
By May, 1984 the Education Department consisted of a Minister of Education, a Director-General, three Executive Directors (Schools, Educational Programmes and Personnel and Resources), as well as teachers and other officers.
Much of the administration of the Department was decentralised into twelve Education Regions, each headed by a Regional Director of Education. The Regional Directors were responsible for - allocating teachers to schools under the special needs category; in-service training programmes; selecting teachers for study leave and scholarship programmes and all welfare matters. There were five country regions and seven metropolitan regions.
Establishment of the Ministry of Education 1985
In November 1985 under the provisions of Administrative Arrangements Order No.40, the Ministry of Education (VA 1112) was established and the Education Department was abolished. The Minister announced that the Ministry of Education had been created to expedite the process of devolving functions and authority to schools and regions, and to improve the co-ordination of policy, resources and planning across the portfolio. It was intended that the Ministry would progressively transfer services and resources to the regions. The central administration was to be responsible for maintaining effective co-ordination within and between education sectors and for developing state wide policy frameworks within which local decision-making could occur.
The function of the Ministry was to ensure that children between the ages of six and fifteen years received suitable, efficient and regular instruction in general subjects and to provide more specialised higher education for older students.
By 1989 the Ministry of Education consisted of the Minister for Education and the Minister responsible for Post Secondary Education (first appointed in 1988), a Chief Executive, the Office of Schools Adminstration, several central administration branches and divisions including the Division of Further Education and the Education Executive Committee. The Committee consisted of the Chief Executive, the Chief General Manager of the Office of Schools Administration, the General Manager of the Division of Further Education and the Chairpersons of the State Training Board, State Board of Education, Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Board and the Victorian Post-Secondary Education Commission, all of which were major statutory authorities within the portfolio.
The Ministry also included the following minor statutory authorities and boards: Institute of Education Administration, Registered Schools Board, Teachers Registration Board, Teaching Services Appeals Board, TAFE Discipline Appeals Board, TAFE Teaching Service Appeals Board, TAFE Teaching Service Registration Board and Victorian Post-Secondary Education Accreditation Board.
Department of School Education
Until October 1991, the administration of schools and post secondary education and training had been the responsibility of a single department, the Ministry of Education and Training (VA 1112). Under the provisions of Administrative Arrangements Order No.97 1991 and associated amendments to schedule two of the Public Service Act 1974, that Ministry was effectively abolished and five separate administrative units, including the Department of School Education were established. These and subsequent administrative changes in early 1992 resulted in the separation of the administration of schools and post-secondary education and training and in October 1992 a single education bureaucracy (Department of Education) was again re-established.
The Department of School Education was primarily responsible for the administration of Victoria's primary and secondary schools which provided thirteen years of comprehensive education to students. The Department employed the teachers in the Government system.
As at March 1992, the Department consisted of two head office divisions for resource management and school programs, eight regional offices and forty two school support centres. The branches within the Resource Management Division were responsible for finance, personnel, facilities and information systems and for the staffing of schools, industrial relations and equal opportunity policy and programs.
The School Programs Division was responsible for the co-ordination of education policy and for the provision of services to schools. It was thus responsible for the
development of programs and materials in major areas of the curriculum such as literacy and numeracy, science, technology, studies of society and environment, arts and health;
development of specialist programs and policies in areas such as vocational education, the integration of children with disabilities into regular schools, special schools for children with major disabilities and the teaching of languages other than English;
programs designed to assist disadvantaged schools and students, students newly arrived in Australia, students at risk, and programs and policies designed to improve the education of girls particularly in mathematics, science and technology;
development of guidelines for student welfare in schools and for liaison with other government and non-government agencies concerned with student welfare.
Associated Statutory Authorities
Within the School Education portfolio, there were a number of statutory authorities which were concerned with related matters such as the registration of non-government schools and teachers; professional development of teachers and administrators; provision of advice regarding primary and secondary education and the development and management of curriculum and assessment programs associated with the Victorian Certificate of Education which encompassed the final two years of secondary education.
As at March 1992, these associated statutory authorities were:
Institute of Educational Administration
Registered Schools Board
State Board of Education
Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Board.
Re-establishment of the Minister of Education
Following significant machinery of government changes after the election of the first Kennett Government in October 1992, the Department of Education (known as the Department of Education, Employment and Training from 1999) was established by Administrative Arrangements Order No.114.
All functions from the previous Department of Employment and Training (except the Office of Employment), the Office of the Adult, Community and Further Education Board, Office of Higher Education, Department of School Education (VA 3029) and the Office of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Board were transferred to the Department of Education.
Directorate of School Education
The Directorate of School Education is responsible for providing 13 years of comprehensive quality education to students in over 2,000 Government primary and secondary schools across Victoria. The Directorate employs teachers in the Government system.
Associated Statutory Authorities
Statutory authorities associated with the Department of Education are the Board of Studies (VA 4281) responsible from 1993 for the certification and accreditation of students in the post-compulsory years of schooling and the Institute of Teaching which provides advice regarding all matters relating to professional standards for the employment of members of the Teaching Service.
For further information about the history of education in Victoria until 1973, see Vision and Realisation, Volumes 1-3, Education Department, 1973. For further information about educational institutions, see VRG 24.