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Oral History: School Milk

Education: Schooling for Work

The coming of free place children led to major changes in Dunedin's elitist and academic secondary schools. One of the most important was the establishment of King Edward Technical College in 1908. It offered technical education geared to the two-year free study period and aimed at securing trades apprenticeships for boys and office jobs for the girls. Otago Boys High and Otago Girls High -the only other Dunedin state secondary schools - likewise had to adapt their courses to meet the practical requirements of this new stream of pupils.

Typing ClassKing Edward Technical College was set up in 1908 to provide workplace skills for the children of artisans. It was 'a drill ground for the lower ranks of the industrial and commercial army' according to the Rector of the rival Otago Boys High School. It proved very popular with southern Dunedin families, especially its typing course, which provided girls with the training required for new office jobs. This 1931 photograph shows a typing class at King Edward Technical School. (King Edward Technical School Jubilee Magazine, Hocken Library - Uare Taoka O Hakena, University of Otago)

Boys during the depressionWith the onset of the 1930s Depression more students stayed on at school because there were fewer jobs. Free education at secondary schools was extended for an extra year in 1933. This was to cater for pupils who had no job in prospects by the end of the Fourth Form. These boys, pictured in 1930, are cutting and bagging kindling. (Timeframes Online Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa)

Clarence BeebySchools were also used to as a vehicle to support health and well-being. In this photograph from 1937, the pupils are enjoying their daily bottle of 'school milk' - to build 'healthy bones and bodies'. Soon schools would be used to mass vaccinate youngsters against childhood diseases such as polio, diphtheria and whooping cough. (Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

Clarence BeebyThe first Labour Government introduced major changes to the education system in the late 1930s. The Proficiency exam was abolished in 1936. Primary schools became more responsive to the needs of individual children. In 1940 a comprehensive transformation of the New Zealand education system began under the leadership of the visionary Director General of Education, Clarence Beeby. Its aim was to promote equal educational opportunity for all New Zealand children. (Timeframes Online Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa)


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