Hedge Schools

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Secret schools known as hedge schools were set up for Catholic children. These were called 'scoileanna scairte' in Irish. From about 1695, there were strict laws in Ireland which forbid Catholics from setting up schools or from sending their children abroad to school.

Hedge School

Most of the teachers in hedge schools were men although there were women. However, the education in hedge schools varied from school to school. Most hedge schools taught reading, writing and arithmetic. Many schools taught Greek and Latin.

In hedge schools, different age groups attended the same master. Some children were very young while others might be eighteen or nineteen years old. To overcome the difficulties of this, younger children were allowed to play with things like pebbles and straw while the master worked with the older children. Young children also learned the alphabet as well as reading and spellings. Children who did well at spellings were rewarded with such things as brass pins that they could display on their coats going home. Would you like to be awarded brass pins?

Children often learned by rote and by constant repetition which was called rehearsing

Hedge School

This is a drawing of a hedge school lesson.

 . At other times, the master spent time with individual pupils because parents expected this. Children who worked on farms during the day often attended evening schools run by hedge school masters. Would you like to have learned in these schools?

Examine The Evidence And Draw A Hedge School

Examine The Evidence And Draw A Hedge School

What were hedge schools called?

The penal laws came to an end in 1782. This meant that hedge schools did not have to be in secret places anymore. Some moved in to larger buildings. They remained as private schools even up to the 1880's. These schools were often called after their teacher if, for example, the school lasted in one place for a period of time.

At other times, if the weather was poor or poverty was great, teachers had to move about to get other employment in teaching or doing some farm work.