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New Education Fellowship

The Victorian section of the New Education Fellowship's (NEF) first general meeting in Victoria was held on 8 May 1939 in Wilson Hall, University of Melbourne. One of 30 national branches of the English parent body that was founded in 1921, in 1966 it was renamed World Education Fellowship. Journals, newsletters and conferences maintained international connections. The movement for the New Education saw education as a life-long process, and the right of every individual. Progressive methods were advocated to achieve these ends: small classes, flexible curricula with provision for music, visual arts and physical education, pupil participation in school government, lessened emphasis on examinations and competition, and vocational and personal counselling. In Victoria, the Australian Council for Educational Research collaborated. Independent schools were fertile ground for NEF ideas, though Catholic schools were less influenced. State schools met in the Education Reform Association, a joint session being held in 1940. During the Cold War the NEF's philosophy was regarded with suspicion. Subsequently, as NEF ideals were absorbed into programs of all three groups of schools, the influence of the Fellowship declined, and by the 1990s it no longer had a strong presence.

Barbara Falk