A little while ago I noticed a post on my facebook feed somebody getting a fine for missing a day of school because of a holiday, then I came across articles such as this one in the mirror giving numerous examples of fines being given.

I'd like to understand what lead to truancy laws being introduced. Was there a problem in the public eye that was being solved. Did is start this strict or has it been over-interpreted.

This is not a question about the merits of such policy unless that helps answer the question.

  • Are you asking about general reason for those laws, or specific publicly stated reasons by people who introduced that specific law in UK when it was being proposed/debated?
    – user4012
    Sep 10, 2018 at 13:14
  • N.B. It looks like there's not one specific "law" covering this. As far as I can see, they were introduced at different times in Wales and England, don't exist in Scotland, and may or may not exist in Northern Ireland (I couldn't find an answer either way).
    – owjburnham
    Sep 10, 2018 at 13:21
  • I also get the impression that there is different laws. What I want to understand is how it got from education being a Requirement to parents being fined for taking a day off Sep 10, 2018 at 22:56

1 Answer 1


Legally compulsory education was introduced in England in 1880. Compulsory education exists for a wide variety of reasons, but in general, it is considered to be in the best interest of children and society.

What exactly compulsory education means is a matter of law, not politics, but to me it seems that fining parents for conspiring to skip school where school is compulsory (apart from home education) is a direct consequence of the law stating that education is compulsory.

  • 2
    When laws are passed it's always political.
    – David Rice
    Sep 10, 2018 at 13:32
  • Compulsory education is not unique to the UK many other countries have similar requirements. What is different is the way its interpreted e.g. Getting an eduction vs cannot miss a day of school. Anyway to add context to what im after. I'm assuming missing one day of school did not result in vines in 1880 when the laws were introduced but at some stage more laws were introduced to fine people for missing a day of school. Why was it introduced what was the political context Sep 11, 2018 at 3:31
  • @user1605665 Is it? I've grown up where missing a day at school would certainly lead to trouble for the parents, and I've never in my childhood (in The Netherlands) come across parents who believe it's reasonable that their child should be allowed to skip school just so the vacation becomes cheaper (which is essentially the only argument given in the cases I've seen in the British press).
    – gerrit
    Sep 11, 2018 at 8:57
  • 1
    @gerrit Maybe these laws came into play because people were taking their kids on holiday too often and that was affecting education outcomes. Or maybe there was some subgroup who did not bother sending their kids to school. Or maybe its been the law from day dot. That's what I'd like to know. On a side note, there is an interesting quirk where some areas require a doctors note if a child is sick but the doctors association does not want to fill in such forms. Sep 12, 2018 at 7:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .