Twelve kids in your family! Your household must have been a very lively place when you were growing up. And hats off to your parents who seemed to have done a marvellous job bring you all up.
My only point was to make the distinction between school being officially–legally– compulsory (which it didn’t seem to be in your case) and socially compulsory. Whereas school children in Scotland in the 1970s were officially obliged to attend school, many felt that their social interests were better served (at least in their immature, inexperienced minds) through non-attendance. In many ways indeed, the systems of enforcing attendance were weak and the social expectation that many working-class boys would end up as low-skilled, low-paid manual workers was strong. The identity that many boys had to that strata of society reinforced that expectation, and the government then did little to empower school children through systems like the affirmative action policies we are now starting to see for white, working-class kids throughout the countries of the U.K.