School log books can be a wonderful resource, not only for family historians but also for local history researchers.
The keeping of school log books was established in England in 1862. It was introduced to Scotland the following decade. Elementary schools were required to be accountable to the public and had to maintain a record of their activities. By the 1980s however, many school ceased to maintain the school log book. Unsurprisingly, and in common with other types of records, not every school log book has survived, but with luck you will have a fascinating insight into the life of the school, the pupils and staff.
When the books were introduced, the head teacher was required to write up the log book each day, but by the 1987s it was reduced to once a week. When schools were inspected, the inspector examined the log book to ensure things were being done.
Log books are also give an opportunity to read about life in the local community too. Whilst the entries focussed on the academic activities of the school they also report of adverse weather, which had the potential to disrupt attendance by the pupils. Outbreaks of contagious illnesses featured too, particularly if children were sent home to avoid infecting their classmates. Another reason for absences, particularly in rural schools, were the absences resulting from children being required to help with harvesting. Some schools in London also granted holidays to enable children to go hop picking. National events would be mentioned, celebrations of the jubilees and the impact of war on the local community.
As family historians we are familiar with the 1939 Register which was collated at the outbreak of war. Many children from London schools were evacuated to locations considered to be places of safety. This explains why sometimes that relative you are seeking is somewhere else completely and not with their family.