Introduction of Technical High Schools

An attempt to address workforce training needs was made early in the 20th century by introducing technical high schools. They offered practical, vocationally-orientated training. However, they were not a success. Traditional secondary schools were seen by parents as providing a pathway into high-status professions, and a better life. Technical schools were regarded as being for the less-able.

There was a trend for greater emphasis on vocational training during the 1920s and 1930s, which was part of a modern Western trend in the first half of the century away from spiritual, moral and cultural education to a focus on the education of the workforce.

Prior to the 1940s, students were receiving varying curriculums within different types of secondary schools. in 1926 for instance, a quarter of secondary students went to technical schools, 2 percent to Maori schools (which emphasised manual skills), 12 percent went to district or agricultural high schools, 10 percent to private schools (including Catholic schools), and just over 50 percent went to state secondary schools.