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School Physical Education

Physical education was practised from the 1860s in Victorian elementary schools as military drill and calisthenics. In 1909 the Commonwealth Government held a conference on physical training at the Victoria Barracks. This conference led to the creation of a national system of physical training in 1911, and established Melbourne as a centre for leadership in physical education. Following the demise of the national system in 1931, drilling and exercising gave way to competitive team games as the content of physical education in government schools. The Education Department's Physical Education Branch took the lead in this process by publishing Physical education for Victorian schools, which was used throughout Australia. The branch was established in 1934 and housed in Primary School No. 2365, Queensberry Street, Carlton, where it remained for over 50 years. The Branch oversaw the expansion of physical education in schools during the 1970s and 1980s, including the employment of physical educators in secondary schools. The University of Melbourne was first in Australia to offer a diploma for physical education teachers in 1936. In 1938 diplomates of this program formed the first professional association for physical educators, and in 1954 established the Australian Physical Education Association.

David Kirk