The education at San Ildefonso
From the XVI century the "Doctrine Children" already had access to an education far superior to that received by other children at the time. Although it is has to be said that at this time most of the population was illiterate.
Concerning the schoolteacher it was stated:
"…If he realizes that any of the children cannot learn because of their roughness or lack of cleverness, the teacher must help them personally. And if these pupils cannot succeed even with his help the "Caballero Comisario" must be informed and the teacher will be fired. When he sees that pupils are doing well and have a future as readers, scribes or accountants they must be encouraged to attain perfection".
From what we know of the contemporary period, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the children's education was characterized by its excellence. As well as receiving a Christian education and being taught the catechisms, they were also taught grammar, arithmetic and handwriting. But what stands out particularly and marks out their education from the rest are the subjects which were uncommon in this period such as music theory, shorthand, typing, drawing, fencing etc.
The number of children taken in to the indoctrination homes has varied according to the institution's economic situation and the space at their disposal. When the building was established in Tabernillas Street the number of pupils was scarcely more than fifty. There are documents that give the number of children at 28 in 1814, going up to 40 in 1858 to mark the birth of Alfonso, Prince of Asturias. In 1874 there were 44 pupils and 60 in 1878 to commemorate the wedding of their Royal Highnesses Alfonso and María de las Mercedes. In 1885 the number of pupils reached 80.