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The History of DATTA

 The Design and Technology Teachers’ Association had its earliest beginnings in the 1950’s as the Manual Training Branch of the State School Teachers’ Union of Western Australia.  Although as part of  a union organization, the Branch also performed a professional role. In the mid sixties the name Manual Training was changed to Manual Arts to reflect more truly the objectives of the new curriculum evolving.

 It was about this time that a national body was being established known as the Australian Council for Education Through Technology (ACET).  Several Western Australian Manual Training teachers featured prominently is this establishment and the first meeting/conference of ACET was held in WA.  ACET conferences were held biennially in one of the Australian states and the first, full scale conference in WA was held in January 1982. After the conference the organizing committee felt that there was a strong need for a body that could truly represent the professional needs of the Manual Arts teachers of the state.  This need was magnified by the disbanding of the Manual Arts Branch of the Union in favor of district and school branches.

 In late 1982 and early 1983 the Manual Arts Teachers’ Association (MATA) was founded.  The founding president was Graham Piggott who was an Education Officer with the Education Department, the secretary was Richard Allen who was a Curriculum Officer in the Education Department and head writer of the Woodwork Teachers Guide and the treasurer was Tony Brown, Senior Master at Hamilton Senior High School.  The association met regularly, most times at the Manual Arts Resource Centre in the grounds of Perth Modern School but, would at times, have its meetings at industrial and educational establishments around the metropolitan area.

 Some ten years later the Association, through a lot of lobbying of the Education Department, was successful in having a comprehensive review done of the subject area.  Dr Phil Deshon, who was contracted to do this review, made a strong recommendation that the name Manual Arts no longer reflected the true direction of the subject.  The Association took up this challenge and promoted, at times, a very heated debate to find a more appropriate name.  Out of all the discussions two names came to the fore: Design and Technology or Technology and Design.  After a very narrow vote the former won through and the Association had a new name: Design and Technology Teachers’ Association.

 In its early days the Association was dominated by members from the government school system but as it evolved the number of teachers from the private school system have swelled and that group are now strongly represented on the membership.  There has always been strong feeling in the association to provide a special service to the country members, who in many cases, work in isolation in often very remote areas of the state.  As a result of this several sub branches have been established, the South West Branch being the strongest of these.  So much so that the executive of the Association actually moved to the South West Branch for several years.

 From its humble, and more industrial beginnings, a strong, truly professional body has evolved that is called upon to provide advice and guidelines to the educational systems.