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Single-sex versus coeducational schooling in 19th-century Victorian public schools

Single-sex versus coeducational schooling in 19th-century Victorian public schools Soon after its establishment in 1863, the Board of Education – “the body responsible for administering public education in Victoria – determined that a system of universal mixed (coeducational) schooling would be adopted in the colony. Existing single-sex departments were “encouraged”, or compelled, to amalgamate, and no new separate schools were established. Although administrators and officials endorsed coeducation, primarily on the grounds of efficiency and economy, opposition from some teachers and parents persisted for many decades. Those opposed to the mixing of children within the schools expressed particular concern about the moral well-being of female pupils, and wished to protect them from what they perceived as corrupting influences. Nevertheless, once decided upon, the policy of universal coeducation prevailed, and when Victoria's first state secondary schools were established in the early 20th century, they too were coeducational.Design/methodology/approachDocumentary evidence, primarily the records of the various boards responsible for the administration of the public schools, evidence provided to several royal commissions, and various contemporary sources, have been examined to discover how the policy of universal coeducation was developed and implemented, and to examine what arguments were offered in favour of and against such a system.FindingsThe colony of Victoria implemented a system of universal coeducation within the public education sector well in advance of its adoption by other Australian colonies, and before it was generally accepted by similar societies elsewhere. The purpose of this paper is to examine why, how and by whom the policy of coeducation was formulated and implemented, and what opposition it faced.Originality/valueAlthough reference is often made to coeducational schooling in histories of education in the 19th century, the information provided is usually of a general nature, without providing specific information about the process by which separate schooling was superseded by coeducation – how and when one type of educational provision came to be replaced by another. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Education Review Emerald Publishing

Single-sex versus coeducational schooling in 19th-century Victorian public schools

History of Education Review , Volume 50 (2): 14 – Oct 5, 2021

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
0819-8691
DOI
10.1108/her-04-2020-0023
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Soon after its establishment in 1863, the Board of Education – “the body responsible for administering public education in Victoria – determined that a system of universal mixed (coeducational) schooling would be adopted in the colony. Existing single-sex departments were “encouraged”, or compelled, to amalgamate, and no new separate schools were established. Although administrators and officials endorsed coeducation, primarily on the grounds of efficiency and economy, opposition from some teachers and parents persisted for many decades. Those opposed to the mixing of children within the schools expressed particular concern about the moral well-being of female pupils, and wished to protect them from what they perceived as corrupting influences. Nevertheless, once decided upon, the policy of universal coeducation prevailed, and when Victoria's first state secondary schools were established in the early 20th century, they too were coeducational.Design/methodology/approachDocumentary evidence, primarily the records of the various boards responsible for the administration of the public schools, evidence provided to several royal commissions, and various contemporary sources, have been examined to discover how the policy of universal coeducation was developed and implemented, and to examine what arguments were offered in favour of and against such a system.FindingsThe colony of Victoria implemented a system of universal coeducation within the public education sector well in advance of its adoption by other Australian colonies, and before it was generally accepted by similar societies elsewhere. The purpose of this paper is to examine why, how and by whom the policy of coeducation was formulated and implemented, and what opposition it faced.Originality/valueAlthough reference is often made to coeducational schooling in histories of education in the 19th century, the information provided is usually of a general nature, without providing specific information about the process by which separate schooling was superseded by coeducation – how and when one type of educational provision came to be replaced by another.

Journal

History of Education ReviewEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 5, 2021

Keywords: Public schools; Morality; Victoria; History of education; Coeducation; Mixed education; Separate schools; Single-sex schools

References