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Tudor Schooldays


If you think it's bad being put in detention for an hour or so after school, you really do need to meet our Tudor Schoolmaster. Tudor School Master If children were rude or didn't speak Latin they would get beaten with the wooden rod. Teachers use to give 50 strokes of the birch, a type of cane, or they might hit them across the mouth with a feral, a flat piece of wood with a hole on the top of it. Children were so scared they often ran away from school. Richer children could often afford a special friend called a 'whipping-boy'. When the rich child was naughty, it was the whipping-boy who received the punishment.

The wealthy, and those with a job, were the only parents who could afford to send their children off to school. It was usual for children to attend six days a week. Girls were either kept at home by their parents, helping with the housework, or sent to work bringing in money for the family. Rich girls would learn at home. Poor families simply could not afford to pay for schooling and it was much more important that their children earned a living by helping at home or by learning a trade.

Catholic families refused to send their children to school because most schools in Tudor England taught the Protestant religion, so Catholic families would employ a priest or private tutor to educate their sons.

For those that did attend, there were two types of school in Tudor times:

  • The Petty School - this taught young children to read.
  • The Grammar School - this taught boys Latin.

Grammar schools often began at 6am and ended at 5pm. Petty schools had shorter hours, mostly to allow poorer boys the opportunity to work as well.
Schools had two teachers:

  • a Master who was strict and taught oldest boys, and
  • an Usher, usually an educated young main in his early 20s, who taught the younger boys.

Girls would learn music, writing and reading and the boys learned Latin, Greek and religion. Writing was done with quill pens dipped into 'reservoirs' of ink. Tudor work sheets were not like those of today's schools. Typically, one side had the Lords Prayer and the other side was the alphabet. When the children had homework, they had to do it - hours and hours of it.

Some children went to Dame Schools but they were few. Dame Schools were set up in their cottage living room by any old man or woman and most were nothing more than a child-minding system.

Many children were taught in Sunday Schools, the quality of instruction varied and it was only for a few hours a week. Few of the teachers (although willing) were not equal to the task of teaching.

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