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Through the Decades

NMIT - Through the Decades

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1910s

A century of Technical and Vocational education in the northern suburbs of Melbourne was heralded by
the ringing of a cow bell throughout the tough streets of Collingwood in the winter of 1912.  Find out more

A century of Technical and Vocational education in the northern suburbs of Melbourne was heralded by the ringing of a cow bell throughout the tough streets of Collingwood in the winter of 1912.

Although Collingwood Technical School was officially opened on 30 July 1912, an enterprising new principal, Mathew Richmond, had taken to this unusual form of recruitment (VTAC was some years away).

Richmond used the bell to attract the attention of local boys who, up until this time, spent most of their days hanging around Collingwood’s street corners. He offered to teach them mathematics, trade drawing and practice and eight or so of these ‘larrikins’ took Richmond up on his offer and became the first students of Technical School No. 22.

Collingwood Technical School was part of a move by newly formed State Governments to assume control and improve the standard of Vocational Education and Training.

In Victoria, this responsibility of government was further formalised by the passing of the Education Act 1910.

Collingwood Technical School was to be a flagship for educational innovation in Victoria as it was the first Victorian Education Department school to be modelled on the late nineteenth century German concept of providing pre-vocational education to school-age children plus evening classes for working youth and adults.

In the decade that followed Collingwood Technical School became known for its civilising affects on working class boys and noted for its excellent engineering, science, art and commerce programs. The college also developed alliances with major industries such as the boot making trade and contributed to wider community projects such as the Returned Soldiers Training Scheme.

Student Enrolments

1912 - Within three weeks of commencing in 1912 Collingwood had 57 enrolments for its evening classes.

1913 - 60 students enrol for the first day classes at CTS.

1919 - Collingwood Technical School had 208 secondary and 493 post secondary enrolments.

Final Siren

Final Siren: In the VFL Collingwood enjoyed the greatest success with three premierships (1910, 17 and 19). 

Winning Post

Melbourne Cup winners for the 1910s were Comedy King (1910), The Parisian (1911), Piastre (1912), Posinatus (1913), Kingsburgh (1914), Patrobas (1915), Sasanof (1916), Westcourt (1917), Night Watch (1918) and Artilleryman (1919).

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1920s

This decade was one of enormous challenge for the newly federated nation as it
went from coping with reintegrating soldiers back into the community and economy to the commencement of the Great Depression.

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This decade was one of enormous challenge for the newly federated nation as it went from coping with reintegrating soldiers back into the community and economy to the commencement of the Great Depression.

Following World War I, technical schools played their part in rehabilitating returned servicemen. In Victoria, the Returned Soldiers Training Scheme was operating via the Repatriation Department and Collingwood Technical School focused on wood-machining for the making of toys, which ironically, prior to the war, were imported from Germany. The returned servicemen undertaking this training had little prior experience in this activity and many were disabled due to physical or mental breakdowns.

Despite misgivings among some educational theorists and bureaucrats about the early streaming of young adolescents into trade specific education, technical education (which had proved to be so popular with students and industry) was now facing new problems brought on by the increased demand.

Around this time Collingwood Technical School was growing and adding more trade classes to its syllabus including cabinet making in 1922 and Joinery in 1923.The suburb of Collingwood was establishing itself as the Victorian hub for the boot and shoe trade and Collingwood Technical School responded to the needs of local boot and shoe makers with training programs for boot and shoe workers.This began a long tradition of working with industry as the School developed alliances with major manufacturers such as The British United Shoe Machinery Company of Australia. NMIT continues the tradition of providing vocational training to meet the needs of industry and the community to this day.

Student Enrolments

1929 - by 1929 Collingwood Technical School had 593 secondary and 695 post secondary enrolments.

Final Siren

In the VFL the Premiers were Richmond (1920 and 1921), Fitzroy (1922), Essendon (1923 and 1924), Geelong (1925), Melbourne (1926), and Collingwood with a streak of premierships (1927, 1928, 1929, and 1930).

Winning Post

Melbourne Cup winners for the 1920s were Poitrel (1920), Sister Olive (1921), King Ingoda (1922), Bitalli (1923), Blackwood (1924), Windbag (1925), Spearfelt (1926), Trivalve (1927), Statesman (1928) and Nightmarch (1929).

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1930s

Despite momentous world events such as the Great Depression and outbreak of the World War II, the 1930s witnessed increased demand for vocational education, particularly in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

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Despite momentous world events such as the Great Depression and outbreak of the World War II, the 1930s witnessed increased demand for vocational education, particularly in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

The Depression resulted in cuts to maintenance grants for Collingwood Technical School and teachers were required to take a pay-cut including the Principal who lost 20% out of his pay packet. Nonetheless, many instructors worked as volunteers to assist unemployed youth and adults to become more proficient in the technical areas of their trade.

Collingwood Tech also lost its driving force during this decade as Matthew Richmond, the foundation Principal of the school from 1912, retired in 1930.

Despite tough times and the retirement of Strang, Collingwood Tech continued to grow and The Argus reported on February 6th 1936, that there were 1271 night students and 837 day pupils; enrolments were so high that many applicants were turned away.

It was becoming clear in the 1930s, that given the growth of the northern suburbs of Melbourne, a technical school would be needed to serve that area. Up until then students had to attend Collingwood or Brunswick Technical Schools or other schools further away. As result, the mid-1930s saw a renewed push for a new technical school and the foundation of Preston Technical School in 1937.

On a national level, the growing beating of war drums in Europe also gave rise to increased Commonwealth support for technical education.

Student Enrolments

By 1939 Collingwood Technical School had 630 secondary and 1692 post secondary enrolments

Final Siren

In the VFL the Premiers were Geelong (1931), Richmond (1932), South Melbourne (1933), Richmond (1934), Collingwood (1935 and 1936), Geelong (1937), Carlton (1938), Melbourne (1939 and 1940).

Winning Post

In the VFL the Premiers were Geelong (1931), Richmond (1932), South Melbourne (1933), Richmond (1934), Collingwood (1935 and 1936), Geelong (1937), Carlton (1938), Melbourne (1939 and 1940).

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1940s

During this decade, the growth of Collingwood and Preston Technical schools was dominated by the war effort, post-war reconstruction and migration, and the reintegration of returned servicemen into the local economy.

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During this decade, the growth of Collingwood and Preston Technical schools was dominated by the war effort, post-war reconstruction and migration, and the reintegration of returned servicemen into the local economy.

A number of Collingwood and Preston Technical school staff members enlisted to fight and, sadly, a number of them (like Preston Senior Assistant, Thomas Thrupp) never returned to resume their teaching careers.

While students at Collingwood Tech were rehearsing air raid defence drills in newly dug trenches near Wellington Street, their Principal, Alexander Strang, was defending the technical education system against the attacks from educational bureaucrats who were labelling the nation’s technical education system as “second rate”.

Despite a devastating fire that destroyed its Boot and Shoe, Plumbing and Sheet metal Departments, Collingwood Technical School’s contribution to the war effort greatly exceeded its relative funding and resources. The school ran classes night and day in specific trades with some practical classes going through until dawn. Collingwood also produced numerous pieces of equipment for the war effort – everything from Morse key sets to lathes and milling equipment.

At the same time, Preston Technical School was expanding rapidly. By 1940 the school was spilling out into temporary classrooms in neighbouring state schools while senior evening and apprentice classes were added in 1941. By the late 1940s the school was experiencing dramatic growth with the development of new residential estates in Melbourne’s north and the impact of post-war migration to Australia.

The establishment of the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme in 1944, to retrain returned servicemen, resulted in the fast-tracking of skills training and the eventual shortening of the traditional 5-year post-school apprenticeship – changing the nature of trade training forever.

While the new Scheme meant that many men returning from the war could look forward to a new future, it also accelerated the exit of semi-skilled workers or ‘dilutees’ who had taken their place during the war. Many of these ‘dilutees’ were women, and while society expected the majority to return to roles as homemakers, the opening up of technical education to women was now gathering momentum. Preston Tech was at the forefront of this push and in 1949 a deputation to the Minister of Education succeeded in a bid to establish a girl’s technical school in Preston.

Student Enrolments

By 1949 Collingwood Technical School had 1777 Post Secondary enrolments (figures for Secondary School enrolments not available).

Final Siren

In the VFL the Premiers were Melbourne (1940 and 1941, part of a three in a row, premiership streak), Essendon (1942), Richmond (1943), Fitzroy (1944), Carlton (1945), Essendon (1946), Carlton (1947), Melbourne (1948), Essendon (1949).

Winning Post

Melbourne Cup winners for the 1940s were Old Rowley (1940), Skipton (1941), Colonus (1942), Dark Felt (1943), Sirius (1944), Rainbird (1945), Russia (1946), Hiraji (1947), Rimfire (1948) and Foxzami (1949).

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1950s

The biggest change at Preston Tech during this decade was the commencement of technical education for girls.

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Despite cows only being banned from the City of Preston area as late as 1954, the region recorded phenomenal growth during the post-war period as ex-servicemen returned to the workforce and sought to settle their families in new, affordable housing made all the more accessible by mass car production. The area was also a destination for newly arrived migrants, mostly from the UK and southern Europe.

Consequently, demands on facilities and services in Preston (including education) outstripped supply and by 1951 Preston Tech was the biggest public technical school in Victoria. The school struggled to cope with the demand and had to occupy temporary, off-campus, facilities like the ‘Gowerville Unit’ on Bell Street while also constructing new buildings in Jesse Street for the junior boys section.

The biggest change at Preston Tech during this decade was the commencement of technical education for girls. Despite numerous requests for the establishment of a girls section since the late 1940s, the school didn’t commence classes for girls until 1956, using a temporary site at a local primary school. A newly constructed, permanent facility for girls opened in Cramer Street in 1958 with an initial enrolment of around 500.

As Preston grew, so did its reputation for providing far more than just practical technical skills – the school offered students a fully rounded education and boasted numerous sporting teams, a drama club, a band and even an air cadet training corps. Around this time Preston also began to produce some famous alumni including VFL great, Ron Barassi, and test cricketer, Bill Lawry, who both attended Preston in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s.

Student Enrolments

By 1959 Collingwood Technical School had approximately 764 Secondary enrolments and 2661 post-secondary.

Final Siren

In Victorian football, the Premiers were Geelong (1951 and 1952), Collingwood (1953), Footscray (1954), Melbourne (1955, 1956, and 1957), Collingwood (1958) and Melbourne again (1959 and 1960).

Winning Post

Melbourne Cup winners for the 1950s were Comic Court (1950), Delta (1951), Dalray (1952), Wodalla (1953), Rising Fast (1954), Toparoa (1955), Evening Peal (1956), Straight Draw (1957), Baystone (1958), and Macdougal (1959)​

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1960s

The sixties were a tumultuous decade of hope, change and political protest. Although a dangerous time in many ways, it was a fertile decade in the sciences, arts and entertainment.

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The sixties were a tumultuous decade of hope, change and political protest. Although a dangerous time in many ways, it was a fertile decade in the sciences, arts and entertainment.

In 1963 the Commonwealth Government established the Country Apprenticeship Scheme, the first national scheme to support apprentices. A subsidy was paid to employers for the first year of an apprenticeship to employ apprentices from country areas and there were also allowances for apprentices living away from home. Growth in vocational education continued to accelerate with apprenticeship numbers reaching 100,000 for the first time.

Preston Technical School (which became Preston Technical College in 1964) and Collingwood Technical School were involved with the push to have technical colleges provide higher level education such as diplomas.

Despite several new buildings, space continued to be problem at Preston Technical College in the 1960s. An old house, a church hall and a shelter shed were all pressed into service as classrooms. As Principal C.J. Coon said, “Facilities at the college cannot keep pace with enrolments. We are bursting at the seams for accommodation.”

Student Enrolments

In 1969 Collingwood Technical School had 588 secondary students and 3523 post-secondary students.

Final Siren

In Victorian football the premiers were Hawthorn (1961), Essendon (1962 and 65), Geelong (1963), Melbourne (1964), St Kilda (1966), Richmond (1967 and 69) and Carlton (1968 and 70).

Winning Post

Melbourne Cup winners for the 1960s were Hi Jinx (1960), Lord Fury (1961), Even Stevens (1962), Gatum Gatum (1963), Polo Prince (1964), Light Fingers (1965), Galilee (1966), Red Handed (1967) and Rain Lover (1968 and 1969).​

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1970s

The 1970s marked the coming of age for vocational and technical education in Australia

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The 1970s marked the coming of age for vocational and technical education in Australia. The Commonwealth Government conducted a number of enquiries into the state of VET across the nation during the early part of the decade. Resulting reports, in particular the Kangan Report (1975), recommended sweeping changes across the VET sector, including substantial funding increases and national curricula. The acronym, TAFE, entered the lexicon of Australian education.

Collingwood Technical School finally achieved official recognition as a college and changed its name to Collingwood Technical College in 1970. The College’s student demographic had also significantly changed as a result of national immigration policies and the growth of new technical school in the outer suburbs. By the mid-1970s the CTS catchment area had shrunk to the core inner suburbs of Carlton, Collingwood and Fitzroy and around 68 percent of the student population were either migrants or the children of migrants and comprised approximately 26 non-English speaking nationalities ... a major change from the predominantly Anglo-Celtish student population of the 1950s.

By this time Preston Technical College had become the largest technical education provider in Melbourne’s northern suburbs with a Learning Resource Centre that became the model for VET libraries during the following decade.

Student Enrolments

In 1979, enrolments at Preston Technical College exceeded 10,700 and of these, 890 were full-time students.

Final Siren

In the VFL, the Premiers were Hawthorn (1971), Carlton (1972), Richmond (1973 and 1974), North Melbourne (1975), Hawthorn (1976), North Melbourne (1977), Hawthorn (1978), and Carlton (1979).

Winning Post

Melbourne Cup winners for the 1970s were Baghdad Note (1970), Silver Night (1971), Piping Lane (1972), Gala Supreme (1973), Think Big (1974), Think Big (1975), Van der Hum (1976), Gold and Black (1977), Arwon (1978) and Hyperno (1979).

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1980s

The vocational training landscape changed dramatically during the 1980s.

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The vocational training landscape changed dramatically during the 1980s. The decade saw an expansion of apprenticeship programs; the introduction of competency based training on a national scale; greater involvement of industry in VET sector; the emergence of private providers and the dramatic growth of the inbound international student market.

On a local level, enrolments within the secondary school section of Collingwood Technical College were dropping (due to competition from newly established technical schools in the outer suburbs) heralding the eventual closure of Collingwood’s junior technical school (or secondary section) later in the decade. At the same time junior technical schools across the state were closing and students moved across to high schools (or secondary colleges).

Trouble was also brewing over at Preston College of TAFE which was experiencing significant financial difficulties and was ultimately placed under an interim administration and a total management and operational re-structure.

Collingwood Collage of TAFE (as CTC became known during the decade) was also experiencing financial (although less acute) difficulties and the new management team at Preston Collage of TAFE was asked to explore the prospect of amalgamating the Preston and Collingwood Colleges of TAFE. Amalgamation ultimately occurred with the creation of the Northern Metropolitan College of TAFE (NMCOT) the forerunner to the modern entity known as NMIT.

Final Siren

In the VFL the Premiers were Carlton (1981 and 1982), Hawthorn (1983), Essendon (1984 and 1985), Hawthorn (1986), Carlton (1987), Hawthorn (1988 and 1989).

Winning Post

Melbourne Cup winners for the 1980s were Beldale Ball (1980), Just a Dash (1981), Gurner’s Lane (1982), Kiwi (1983), Black Knight (1984), What a Nuisance (1985), At Talaq (1986), Kensei  (1987), Empire Rose (1988), and Tawrrific (1989).