Correspondence School founded

1 February 1922

Janet Mackenzie (ATL, 1/2-044814; F)

Janet Mackenzie, the first teacher in what was to become the Correspondence School for Back-block Children, took up her position in a spartan office in Wellington’s Government Buildings at the beginning of the 1922 school year. It was thought that there were about 25 children around the country who could not attend school because they lived in lighthouses or other remote locations. In fact, Mackenzie initially had 83 pupils ranging from beginners to Standard 6 (Year 8). She soon found that many of them could neither read nor write. For her part, she had at first to draft lessons and correspond with pupils and parents entirely by hand.

In late 1922 a second teacher was appointed to assist Mackenzie. The following year Stanley Mills was appointed headmaster of the Correspondence School, which moved into an old house on The Terrace. Mackenzie was appointed first assistant and over the next few years wrote a number of English textbooks for pupils in the standards.

A secondary department was set up in 1929 and regular weekly radio broadcasts began in 1931, the year Mackenzie retired; Mills followed in 1934. His successor, Dr Arthur Butchers, inherited a teaching staff of 45 and 1,800 pupils. In 1938, Butchers trialled a service for which the Correspondence School was to become renowned, sending out into the field visiting teachers who literally got their boots dirty.

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