From reading Century Girls by Tessa Dunlop. I have heard Education for all was a 1918 election slogan. Prior to 1918, it was only law for children to attend school until they were 10years old. In 1918 act sometimes called Fisher Act was created, in 1821 it became law;that children had to attend school until they were 14 years old. This meant all the women in Century Girls who were born between 1914 and 1918, attended school until they were at least 14years old. The act had intended, that children should have part time education until they were 18years old, but that did not happen due to lack of money after world war 1.
An act in 1944 raised leaving age to 15, but that did not come into force until 1947, due to the Second World War. Although age of girl’s leaving was the same as boys there was not equality in terms of the education they could receive. In 1944 to go to a grammar school after 11, an exam had to passed called 11 plus but, there were quotas which limited number of girls attending despite them passing the exam.
In 1972 it became law that children had to attend school until they were 16years old.
Today the age of leaving school remains 16 years old. However following labour coming to power when Tony Blair won 2007 election, in 2013 16 and 17year olds had to participate in training or volunteering or further education the equivalent of a minimum of 1 day per week (they may work as an apprentice and be released to attend college for blocks of time; rather than attend college once a week). In 2015 it rose to 18 that participation in minimum of 1 day per week of training or further education is compulsory.
Although in theory, girls had same school leaving ages as boys, even into 1960s the caring of children and running of house hold was still seen as Women’s Work (an example of support of this is in the following article by Jenny Murray http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/jmurray_01.shtml. Last night, I attended a book club of Harriet Harman’s autobiography called A Woman’s Work. The 60s is when attitudes began to shift, alas it can be argued even today, the inequality exists with women more likely to take more parental leave than men and or work part time to care for children.
Today and similarly under previous school leaving age acts girls, having babies under leaving age currently 16 for school; are still expected to remain in education until they are 16 however, for health reasons they are allowed 18 weeks before or after birth, out of school. Also in some cases they may be schooled outside of school. In practice pregnancy / Motherhood has caused girl’s throughout the last century to drop out of education or have education disrupted. Now that participation after school leaving up to 18 is law, pregnancy can still cause girls to drop out. Although it is law to participate until 18years old, currently no penalty is been taken against 17 and 18 year olds not participating. If a girl stopped participating due to pregnancy / being a Mum a sanction such as a fine would not be beneficial; therefore main impact is that girl misses out on some education. However, when labour cane to power in 1997, they aimed to reduce number of teenage pregnancies and indeed they have vastly reduced.