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Title: School attendance 1880-1939 : a study of policy and practice in response to the problem of truancy
Author: Sheldon, Nicola
ISNI:       0000 0000 6542 0314
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2008
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The thesis covers two sides of the truancy problem in the period following compulsory school attendance - the truanting children and their parents, and the local authorities charged with enforcing the law. The introduction covers current concerns about truancy and school attendance, which have increased in prominence since the 1980s. Chapter 2 reviews the historiography, which has mainly debated working-class attitudes towards compulsory schooling in the nineteenth century. This study draws instead on the insights of development economists into household decision-making over children's schooling to investigate the effectiveness of enforcement in several contrasting localities - rural and urban, industrial and agricultural, and in a seaside resort. The thesis brings together evidence to show that local authorities could make an impact on attendance levels, even in unpropitious local circumstances. Chapter 3 considers the success of measures to improve attendance up to 1900. Chapter 4 offers a detailed case study of a sample of truants and their families from Coventry in the period 1874-99. Chapters 5 to 7 cover 1900-39 and demonstrate changes in the enforcement of attendance, within the context of growing local government services related to child welfare and the family. Attendance officers' local knowledge of working-class families supported the delivery of child welfare legislation in the period after 1906, including special education, assessment of families for free school meals, assistance with medical treatment and the policing of restrictions on children's street trading. Attendance officers also supervised children deemed at risk of offending, who were committed to institutions. These additions to the enforcement role led increasingly to a remedial, rather than punitive, approach to truancy during the 1920s and 30s. The conclusion returns to contemporary policy issues over truancy and sets in context the historical reasons why it has proved such a long-standing problem for government and schools.
Supervisor: Humphries, Jane ; Howarth, Janet Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Education, Compulsory ; School attendance ; History ; Government policy ; Great Britain