Between 1937 and 1952 three differing philosophies for the reform of NSW schooling found expression in three successive ministers for education. David Drummond, the Country Party minister during the Great Depression, wanted to extend the well-established democratic principle of equality of opportunity and the formation of character. He emphasised the improvement of schooling for country children, provision of education for handicapped children, and improved technical education. Clive Evatt, Labor Minister for Education in the early 1940s, focused on the recently publicised doctrines of progressive, child-centred education. An international conference on progressive education had been held in Australia in 1937. Following the 1939-45 war, a third, pragmatic, non-theoretical minister, Bob Heffron, sought to adapt traditional policies to help build a better world, a welfare state, based on improved services which included, to a limited degree, education. But Heffron had to focus on remedying the material neglect of schooling during the depression and war. The outbreak of the Cold War in 1947 undermined idealism and optimism; communists revived the class struggle through strikes and otherwise. The final section of this paper sums up the context of and factors for change in primary, secondary and tertiary education in New South Wales over the fifteen years of this survey.
Education, Research and Perspectives Vol. 36, Issue 2, p. 45-80