What are the 10 Oldest Schools in the World Still in Existence?

Have you ever pondered where education first began? Prepare yourself for a historical tour as we answer the question, What are the 10 Oldest Schools in the World? These are ancient academic storytellers who have been whispering knowledge tales for generations.

what are the 10 Oldest Schools in the World?

Imagine classrooms that have seen it all, ancient walls resonating with the laughter of long-gone students, and traditions that have withstood the test of time.

Prepare to be transported into a rich and fascinating history of the oldest schools that exist as we discuss the oldest set of schools around the globe

Informal schools have existed for as long as anyone can remember, making it difficult to determine which schools have been around the longest.

However, all the schools on this list have a fairly well-documented history and are widely regarded as the world’s oldest schools.

Except for the No. 1 school on this list, all of these old schools are in Europe, primarily in England.

Most of these schools have been in continuous operation since their inception dates, and some are still in their original locations.

Is the Era of Schooling Over Permanently?

Consider what it would be like to peruse the yearbooks of the oldest universities in the world. Would students in China during the Han era have the same sly smiles on their faces? Would the aspirations of today’s class align with those of the first seniors at Boston Latin School?

Though it is a process of continuation by necessity, education is also about advancement. The learning settings of today are very different from those of the world’s oldest schools. Today’s students don’t even need to visit a physical campus because they can learn online.

However, many contemporary schools still use teaching methods that are largely unchanged from those used hundreds of years ago.

Schools remain learning environments today, where students congregate to hear from professionals in various professions.

Today’s academics and schoolteachers still give lectures, just like their predecessors did. Just as students did hundreds of years ago, teachers today still provide their pupils with opportunity to use the environment around them as a tool for learning.

Thus, even if “school” has evolved greatly over time, many of the core ideas have not altered.

Top 10 Oldest Schools in the World

Please keep in mind that this list only includes primary and secondary schools, as we covered the world’s oldest universities separately:

10. Gymnasium Carolinum

While Gymnasium Paulinum in Münster appears to have been founded a few years earlier, Gymnasium Carolinum in Osnabrück contends that it is the oldest school in Germany.

The two schools maintain a friendly rivalry over this title. Although it may not be older, Gymnasium Carolinum was founded in 804 CE, according to a certificate issued on December 19th of that year.

  • Year Founded: 804 CE
  • Location:  Osnabrück, Germany
  • Type:  State school (public school)
  • Age Range:  10 – 19
  • Gender:  Mixed

9. Gymnasium Paulinum

Gymnasium Paulinum was founded sometime around 797 CE and is believed to be the oldest school in Germany.

Reportedly, the Gymnasium Paulinum was established by Saint Ludger after Charlemagne instructed him to spread Christianity in north-western Saxony.

  • Year Founded: 797 CE
  • Location:  Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • Type:  State school (public school)
  • Age Range:  10 – 19
  • Gender:  Mixed

8. Sherborne School

Sherborne School was founded as a cathedral school in 705 CE when King Ine of Wessex ordered Aldhelm, the Bishop of Sherborne, to find a cathedral and college of clergy in the town to relieve pressure from the growing sea of Winchester.

It is one of several old schools in England that have been operating for over a millennium. Amazingly, Sherborne School still remains at its original location.

  • Year Founded: 705 CE
  • Location:  Sherborne, Dorset, England
  • Type:  Independent (private) boarding school
  • Age Range:  13 – 18
  • Gender:  Boys

7. Beverley Grammar School

Like a few of the other schools on this list, the exact founding date of Beverley Grammar School is unknown.

Beverley Grammar School believes that the school dates back to 700 CE, which was when Beverley Minster was opened.

Based on this founding date, Beverley Grammar School claims it is the oldest state school (public school) in England.

  • Year Founded: 700 CE
  • Location:  Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, England
  • Type:  State school (public school)
  • Age Range:  11 – 16
  • Gender:  Boys

6. Royal Grammar School Worcester

Royal Grammar School Worcester traces its history back to around 685 CE when Bishop Bosel founded a secular monastic school in Worcester.

The first written record of Royal Grammar School Worcester comes in 1265 when Walter of Cantelupe, Bishop of Worcester, appointed four chaplains to teach at the school.

  • Year Founded: 685 CE
  • Location:  Worcester, Worcestershire, England
  • Type:  Independent (private) day school
  • Age Range:  2 – 18
  • Gender:  Mixed

5. Thetford Grammar School

While no one knows for sure when exactly the school was founded, Thetford Grammar School asserts that the school has been open since around 631 CE when Sigbert.

King of the East Angles would have most likely opened a school for his court in Thetford.

The earliest documented history of the existence of Thetford Grammar School dates to 1114.

  • Year Founded: c.631 CE
  • Location:  Thetford, Norfolk, England
  • Type:  Independent (private)
  • Age Range:  3 – 18
  • Gender:  Mixed

4. St Peter’s School

St Peter’s School is another English school that has been operating for several centuries.

The school was founded in 627 CE by St. Paulinus of York when he opened York Minster on the same site (The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York).

Like most of the English schools on this list, St Peter’s School was only a boys’ school for much of its history.

  • Year Founded: 627 CE
  • Location:  York, England
  • Type:  Independent (private) day and boarding school
  • Age Range:  3 – 18
  • Gender:  Mixed

3. King’s Rochester

King’s Rochester (formally The King’s School, Rochester) is the second oldest continuously operating school in England and was founded in 604 CE, just a few years after The King’s School in Canterbury.

The school was opened at the same time as Rochester Cathedral, and King’s Rochester remains in the same area today.

  • Year Founded: 604 CE
  • Location:  Rochester, Kent, England
  • Type:  Independent (private) day and boarding school
  • Age Range:  3 – 18
  • Gender:  Mixed

2. The King’s School, Canterbury

It was established in 597 CE, not long after St. Augustine arrived in England.

It is believed to be the oldest extant school in Europe.

Not much is known about the early history of The King’s School Canterbury, but there is strong evidence that the school was run as part of Canterbury Cathedral during the Middle Ages.

  • Year Founded: 597 CE
  • Location:  Canterbury, Kent, England
  • Type:  Independent (private) day and boarding school
  • Age Range:  3 – 18
  • Gender:  Mixed

1. Shishi High School

Shishi High School

Shishi High School in Chengdu, China, has been open since 143–141 BCE, making it the oldest existing school in the world.

The high school or secondary school is built on the site of the very first Chinese school founded during the Han dynasty, hence Shishi’s (143–141 BCE) founding date.

  • Year Founded: c.141–143 BCE
  • Location: Chengdu, Sichuan, China
  • Type: Public High School
  • Age Range:  15 – 18
  • Gender:  Mixed


Some of the earliest universities in the world were initially established in medieval Europe, where universities, or institutions of higher learning, had their start.

The Latin “universitas magistrorum et scholarium,” which means “community of teachers and scholars,” is where the word “university” originates.

The majority of the world’s universities are granted the title “university” by a government organization, however in certain regions, such as the US, there is no universally accepted definition of the word.

Academic independence has been the foundational idea of universities since their founding. Universities started publishing research journals from the eighteenth century.

Throughout the 19th century, religion made a brief appearance in educational institutions before becoming less prominent as science took center stage.

With time, more people have been able to attend universities, and now, online schools such as University of the People are contributing to the continued democratic and open access of education.

CSN Team.

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