University of Tasmania
whole_GriffithsPatriciaElizabethMaud1981_thesis.pdf (7.24 MB)

A history of the Dora Turner School, formerly the Girls Welfare School, from 1924-1974

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posted on 2023-05-26, 21:05 authored by Griffiths, PEM
This thesis seeks to trace the history of one of Tasmania's oldest Special Schools, formerly known as the Girls Welfare School. It is now called the Dora Turner School. The School, established in Hobart in 1924, has occupied premises on four different sites during its first fifty years. The Girls Welfare School was established by the State Education Department for \the education of a limited number of girls aged 12-16 for whom ordinary schools are not suitable\" (undated Memo Education Department). It will be shown that the girls were referred to as \"backward and feeble minded\" (School Record Book 1951 76) but the School is now regarded by the Education Department as a suitable placement for Slow Learners. For the first 31 years it was a single sex school but in 1955 it became co-educational and the name was changed to the Dora Turner School in honour of the first Teacher in Charge Dora Turner who was appointed to that position in 1924 and retired in 1951. In a very real sense the history of the School is the story of Dora Turner and her philosophy of education and of H.T. Parker and his philosophy of education. H.T. Parker was the Education Department's first School Psychologist who was largely responsible for persuading the Department to establish the School. For the major part of the fifty years the emphasis of the Curriculum at the School was on Domestic Science and only comparatively recently has the Curriculum been expanded. The history also shows a marked degree of non reaction to the social changes and events that took place during the period 1924-1974. This study also indicates that the school was not very successful in preparing its pupils for occupations or indeed for independent living. What it does show however is that such a school should have a stated philosophy that is compatible with community expectations and with realistic goals and objectives established for the students. One of the significant outcomes of the study is the insights it provides into the attitude of the community towards the mildly mentally handicapped or slow learning student. This attitude appeared to be fostered through the insularity of the School and through lack of integration with other schools as part of the School Philosophy. The study also shows that although dedicated teachers and principals have worked untiringly in often unsatisfactory conditions with difficult students such dedication is not enough and there was a need for specific teacher training in the area of Mental Retardation that was not available in Tasmania until 1974 that is fifty years after the School commenced."


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  • Unpublished

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Thesis (MSpEd) - University of Tasmania, 1981. Bibliography: leaves 106-107

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  • Open

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