Peter Board


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(1858–1945) was the first director of education in NSW (1905–22) and one of the architects of the Australian government school system. He attended Fort Street Public School and was among the first evening students at the University of Sydney, obtaining his BA (1889) and MA (1891). He became headmaster of MacDonaldtown Public School in 1884 and an inspector in 1893, serving in the districts of Lismore, Albury, and Newcastle. Like his Victorian contemporary Frank Tate, Board was influenced by progressive educational ideas in North America and Europe: his reports on primary education (1903) and American educational systems (1909), written after overseas study tours, influenced reforms in such matters as rural education, state high schools, and kindergartens. Board saw schools as an engine of national development and promoted the teaching of history as a foundation of civic education. His firm defence of the principle of free education led to his resignation as director in 1922 in protest against the reintroduction of fees in high schools. He continued to be active in educational matters, chairing committees of inquiry in WA and Tasmania. A.R. Crane and W.G. Walker wrote a biography in 1957, and Board's papers are in the Mitchell Library, Sydney.

From The Oxford Companion to Australian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Australasian and Pacific History.