The Department of Education 1957-1982
Until 1963, the endpoint of primary education in Queensland was the Scholarship examination, which selected students for entry into a secondary school. Particularly from the 1930s, this examination came under increasing criticism. Many educators believed that because some teachers treated Scholarship passes as their main goal, the examination unduly restricted the content and methods of primary education. Others felt that the examination limited the opportunities of many children to receive a secondary education. In the late 1850s and early 1960s increasingly rapid social change encouraged the Department to free schools from the bonds of the Scholarship examination, and the Government's plan, after 1957, to make secondary education freely available to all children was an added reason for abolishing the examination.
The abolition of the Scholarship examination in 1963, and the passage of the State Education Act 1964 which replaced the 1875 Act and its amendments, marked the beginning of a new age in primary education. An extensive revision of the syllabuses was carried out, with new syllabuses introduced in mathematics (developed in 1966-68 and again in 1974-76), science (1966 and 1975-76), language arts (1974-75), social studies (1870-71), art (1972), health and physical education (1972) and music (1974).
These programs reflected the new spirit in primary education. They gave the teacher a statement of the general aims of education, a statement of subject aims, and a basic syllabus structure, but did not, as in the past, force schools into a uniform mould. Within the guidelines provided by the programs, teachers were permitted greater flexibility in planning learning experiences for their pupils.
This greater freedom created a need for the extension of support, supervision and evaluation mechanisms, and the development of these mechanisms was a major trend in the 1970s. Thus in-service education facilities were greatly extended. Among other initiatives, a Co-ordinator of In-Service Education was appointed (1973); teachers centres were established (1973); full-time release programs were begun (1975); and the Bardon Professional Development Centre was opened in Brisbane (1977). Other support facilities and personnel introduced included a variety of specialist teachers, including advisory teachers (1970), teacher-librarians (1970-71) and resource teachers (1975), teacher aides (1973) appointed as a means of relieving teachers of some non-teaching duties, expanded and decentralised guidance facilities, and expanded media facilities, including new media forms such as videotapes. From the 1960s district inspectors provided further support for the classroom teacher, placing a greater emphasis on advice and support. Finally, the reorganisation of the planning and services functions of Head Office increased the Department's effectiveness in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of programs, and developing new programs (e.g. religious education) and resources (e.g. studies of local school environments).
A major development, particularly after 1973, has been the injection of increasing amounts of Commonwealth money into specific areas of State education. This has assisted the development of library facilities which have superseded standard, State-issued textbooks. Commonwealth funds have also allowed greater attention to disadvantaged groups, including Aborigines, migrants and the geographically isolated, thus giving support to the State policy of equality of educational opportunity. Furthermore, Commonwealth funds have made a major contribution to the school-based innovations program developed after 1973.
Other trends during the 1970s which influenced the education system were the increasing community interest in education and the concern for accountability to the community. In combination with the great diversity of values in modern society, these trends have created debate over such issues as the role of the 3 Rs in education, the standards of education, and the proposed introduction of human relationships and religious education courses in schools. Such debates prompted the appointment in 1978 of a Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate the education system. The recommendations of this committee are still under consideration.
Innovations in teaching methods have brought accompanying changes in primary school architecture. The official opening of Petrie Terrace State School in 1970 introduced a new era of modern school buildings incorporating open area teaching spaces and the extensive use of carpeting and sound-proofing.