This information was last updated in 2004. The Tudors have not changed, but our understanding of them might!
In Tudor times there was no organised system of state education for everyone.
In Henry VIII's reign, the leading schools in the City of London were St Anthony's and St Paul's. These were both fee-paying grammar schools for rich boys. They were called grammar schools because they taught Latin grammar. The boys would also learn other subjects such as mathematics, geography and literature.
Henry's son, Edward VI, founded Christ's Hospital as a school for orphaned boys and girls. Later, rich parents asked that their children be allowed to go there too. During Queen Elizabeth's reign, there were several new schools founded by wealthy City merchants such as the Merchant Taylors' School. There were also various schools for less wealthy children that taught basic reading, writing and arithmetic.
School days were very long, often from seven in the morning until five or even six at night. Pupils worked from Monday to Saturday with a half-day on Sunday and no more than three two-week holidays throughout the year. They started school around the age of seven and left at about fifteen, when they were considered adults.
Pupils learned to read with a hornbook. They wrote with a pen made from a goose or hen quill, which had to be trimmed with a penknife. They dipped their quill in ink and had to be careful not to blot or smudge the paper. If they made a mistake, the teacher would beat them with a birch made out of a bundle of sharp twigs! With so much grammar and learning by rote, Tudor lessons might have seemed very dull and repetitive to you.
Many children in Tudor times did not go to school at all. Poor boys as young as seven or eight might be apprenticed to learn a trade. Although there were schools for girls, many parents did not think it worth educating their daughters. It was thought more important for girls to learn how to run a household to prepare them for marriage. Wealthy girls were taught at home by private tutors. Some, like Henry VIII's two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, were educated to a very high standard.