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Compulsory Educational Provision

  • Gary McCullochEmail author
  • Tom Woodin
Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)

Abstract

The nature and length of compulsory education has been one of the most strongly contested aspects of modern schooling systems. Compulsory education was at the heart of these national systems, established around the world, and constituted a key feature of modern societies. Nevertheless, the principle that there is both a right and a duty for all children to attend school for a certain period of time was fiercely debated, and there were diverse practices on the ground. In general, there has been a pattern of growing public support and then an extension of compulsion that might take decades to achieve fully. In some countries, there has been a tendency for legislation to be largely symbolic and only enforced later. Elsewhere, the law has lagged behind, and responded to, voluntary participation in schooling. The designated age for starting school varied, although most countries settled on the age of 6. The school-leaving age steadily increased in most systems despite opposition from employers, parents, policy makers, and many teachers, up to the age of 18 in some cases by the early twenty-first century. The extension of compulsory education had considerable effects on the structure of schooling, enabling the development of different stages of education, and also on the curriculum. It shaped the nature of modern childhood, adolescence, and the transition into adulthood in modern societies.

Keywords

Attendance Compulsory education Elementary education School-leaving age Secondary education 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education, Practice and SocietyUCL Institute of EducationLondonUK

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