The Queensland State High School Principal’s Association had its origins in Brisbane and most of its activities were centered on this city.
In the early nineteen fifties the only State High Schools in Metropolitan Brisbane were Brisbane State High School – purely Academic and co-educational, Wynnum S.H.S., a multilateral and co-educational school and there were three inner city High Schools – Industrial (Boys), Commercial (mainly Girls) and Domestic (Girls) each with a fairly strong, but not completely, vocational bias. State High Schools existed in the larger and older provincial cities – e.g. Warwick, Rockhampton, Townsville – etc. and these were administered by the Principal in conjunction with an attachedTechnicalCollege, some of considerable size.
These were the relatively quiet, calm days of High School administration when long established custom, conservatism and stability in most matters provided comparatively few serious problems. These were the days when success in the State Scholarship or the High School Entrance Examination opened the doors of State Secondary Education to those students with reasonable academic qualifications, and possessed of normal motivation and ambition.
Syllabi and curricula, prescribed or preferred textbooks, the format of external examinations had all been sacredly standardised for decades, and students in some cases probably used the same or similar textbooks as their parents had done before them. Teaching techniques too, were stereotyped, limited and controlled by a number of factors, for example – external exams, the Inspection system, a rigid but stable organization.
By the mid-fifties changes occurred. There was an increased demand for higher Education when previously the State Scholarship was the normal pinnacle of scholastic achievement needed for the majority of school leavers. Student population increased – a post-war phenomenon, dormitory suburbs mushroomed and expanded towards the periphery of the Metropolis and in the larger country centers, and these demographic changes resulted in an increased demand for State High Schools. High Schools were divorced from Technical Colleges and so began the first peripheral multilateral co-educational State High Schools, first at Indooroopilly,Salisbury, Banyo,Cavendish Roadand Mitchelton, to be followed over the years by many others. Country towns also experienced this sudden development and unprecedented expansion occurred in the Secondary sphere.
With the increase in the number and the size of High Schools came consequent changes in many related areas. The late fifties and the early sixties witnessed the origin of P & C Associations, the introduction of School Tuckshops and the development of Ladies Auxiliaries. A parochial pride developed in these schools, and soon money was needed and was raised by school co-operative efforts to fund desirable School improvements – halls, sporting facilities and countless general amenities.
The time honored equipment of the formerly successfully and comfortably established teacher had long been – some sticks of chalk, a blackboard and duster, a few charts and wall maps and longtime prescribed and well annoted and well-thumbed textbooks. A newer era of sophisticated teaching aids had dawned with a multitude of new gadgetry, audio-visual, electronic, duplicating, calculating, electrostatic machines of all types and brands. These made teaching more efficient and effective and easier – or perhaps more difficult. In the early stages of this development there was little or no skilled assistance available to alleviate the confusion of those involved concerning the practical use, the relative value, the final cost and the efficient use and care of these machines.
So it was in this environment of accelerating change and innovation – sudden and swift – compounded by the earlier abolition of the State Scholarship in 1962 (followed later by the extinction of external Junior and Senior Exams), the accompanying raising of the School leaving age to fifteen and the detrimental effects on Secondary School administration of a society becoming more permissive, and possibly more materialistic. Some of these problems were the Drug scene, absenteeism, latch key children, student unrest and dissent actively encouraged by radical and academic impractical do-gooders. These all added to the woes and worries of perplexed Principals precipitated and catapulted, in many instances, in all their innocence and naivety into a situation for which their previous experience and training had not fully equipped them. So, facing the many diverse and serious problems that they then encountered, some of them individual and particular, others of general concern, High School Principals early sought comfort in discussion with and advice and support from similarly perplexed colleagues some of whom happened to be older, wiser and more experienced. The need for a united voice received an impetus and was rendered more urgent by a Sports crisis in 1964 when a dispute arose between the Metropolitan Principals and the Q.S.S.S.S.A, over the proposed limitation of inter-school competition fixtures – another legacy of sudden expansion and limited finance and resources, staff included.
Earlier meetings prior to the formation of the Association were held by Metropolitan Principals at the Commercial College in George St. Principals originally and deeply involved in some of the very early meetings include, among others, Milton Sallaway, Allan Werman, Vic Honour, Bob Mackie, George Lockie, Tom Maher, Arnold Perkin and Greg Churven. The venue was central, somewhat uncongenial. Meetings began at 4.00 p.m. and the little time available too often prevented full discussion and debate. Dinners following meetings were often held at the nearby Hotel Cecil. These meetings were called to allow Principals to air their problems, to seek advice and to obtain the benefits of mutual social communication. However, Sports controversies frequently occupied a most disproportionate amount of the time available. These meetings were chaired at times by Allan Werman and Vic Honour.
There developed a growing band of opinion that something more stable, more unified and more constituted, was required. Arnold Perkin had, during the vacation of 1962, attended on invitation, a N.S.W. Principals’ live-in conference at Lake Narrabeen and a year or so later arranged for Vic Honour and himself to attend a similar conference. Impressions formed by these two gentlemen were very favourable and their expressed opinions stirred the forward thinkers in Secondary Principals’ circles and gave an impetus to the movement that ended in the first live-in successful conference of High School Principals in August 1966 in the rather spartan but relaxed atmosphere of Tallebudgera and added fuel to the already ignited flame of unanimous demand for some kind of Principals’ united body. Arnold Perkin and Col Butcher advocated forming a Principals’ Branch of the Q.T.U. and also an Association. The former was rejected but the idea of an Association eventually came to a successful fruition in 1965.
Amongst other cogent and precipitating reasons for Association was the acute disappointment of Secondary Principals with their salary relativity to Staff teachers. Arnold Perkins was appointed foundation secretary. A sub-committee consisting of A. Perkin, R. Mackie and V. Honour drafted a proposed constitution and this with minor amendments was ratified and the Q.S.H.S.P.A. began officially in September 1965. Meetings of Principals over the years have been held at the Commercial College, B.S.H.S., Q.L.T.A. Club, South Brisbane Club, Qld Rugby League Club and latterly at the Italo-Australian Club. Dinners have frequently been held after most meetings and social functions with wives were held at Q.L.T.A. Club, Anzac House, Wanganui Gardens, Tom Jones, Lupis of Kenmore and the Italo-Australian Club.