Sessions for secondary schools

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Bring National Gallery paintings to life with a session tailored to the needs of your students.

Talking Paintings (Key Stage 3, 4 and 5)

Talking Paintings sessions last one hour and are free for UK schools and colleges. For overseas groups, there is a charge of £50-75 a group.

The National Gallery’s collection provides a visual narrative of the history of western painting, with challenging themes that resonate today. Each painting is a rich and accessible context that supports and extends students of all abilities. 

Talking Paintings sessions are tailor-made to your requirements. Choose from a theme below or suggest your own (we will accommodate requests wherever possible):

Colour, Costume, General Introduction, Highlights of the National Gallery, History Through Art, Identity, Impressionism in Context, Landscapes, Memory, Myths and Legends, Narrative Paintings, Perspective, Portraits, Reading Paintings, Religion in Art, Renaissance Art, Still Life, Structures, Symbolism, War.

Group size: 10 to 100 pupils

To book, please phone 020 7747 2424

Special eyes (SEN schools and units)

We welcome the opportunity to provide a tailor-made Talking Paintings session for SEN schools and units. These are led by experienced Gallery educators and take place in front of the paintings, although some groups may benefit from an introductory or follow-up session in a workshop space.

The sessions are multi-sensory, incorporating drama and props to enhance the pupils’ experience. Sessions last up to one and a half hours.

Group size: maximum 10 pupils

Sense It! (PMLD students and their staff)

An inspirational outing for pupils with PMLD (profound and multiple learning disabilities) and their staff.
Experience the sounds and spaces, smells, colours and light at the National Gallery. During your visit, take time to explore a single painting through the senses, and investigate how it was made in a practical workshop.
'Sense It!' is the outcome of consultation and a pilot project with specialist PMLD practitioners. Following a visit to your school from the session leader, we will provide a tailor-made Gallery session to match your pupils’ needs. You will have the exclusive use of the Pigott Education Centre and suitably equipped private spaces.

Group size: maximum 8 pupils

Available sessions

Thursday 11 February 2016
Friday 13 May 2016
Thursday 16 June 2016

To book, please phone 020 7747 5890

'Sense it!' is generously supported by Elizabeth and Daniel Peltz

Explore It! (MLD and SLD students and their staff)

Explore It! is a new specially tailored programme for pupils with Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD) and Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD), which has been developed in consultation with teachers and specialist practitioners.

Sessions consist of a pre-visit to the school followed by a tailor-made gallery-based session designed to match pupils’ needs. During their visit to the National Gallery, pupils will explore a single painting through their senses, and investigate how it was made in a practical workshop. The gallery sessions are multi-sensory, incorporating drama and custom-designed resources and props to enhance the pupils’ experience. 

Available sessions

Thursday 3 December 2015
Thursday 25 February 2016
Thursday 10 March 2016
Thursday 24 March 2016
Thursday 23 June 2016

Explore It! is free to book and workshop materials for gallery sessions are provided.

'Explore it!' is generously supported by the Lord Leonard and Lady Estelle Wolfson Foundation

Sketchbook skills (Key Stage 4 and 5)

Sharpen up your pupils’ observation and sketchbook skills by incorporating a variety of drawing activities into your Gallery workshop, led by an experienced Gallery artist-educator. Sessions take place on weekday afternoons and last one-and-a-half hours. Drawing implements are provided, but please ensure that pupils bring their own sketchbooks.

Chemistry in Art: Colour by Design (Key Stage 5)

These one-and-a-half hour sessions for AS and A-level students investigate pigments and colours, introduce issues relating to the scientific aspects of the National Gallery’s paintings, and make links to the Salters Advanced Chemistry syllabus. Students explore the chemical processes of producing paint and gain an understanding of the Gallery’s methods of conservation and restoration of the Old Masters.

To book any of these sessions, email or phone 020 7747 2424/5890

View workshops

Study day for students: History of Art and Art & Design

The National Gallery has teamed up with the Tower of London to offer students unique study days, designed specifically to support the following History of Art and Art & Design courses:

  • History of Art: AS/A2 level and Pre-U
  • Art & Design: AS/A2 level

View study days

Self-guided visits

You may prefer to design and lead your own Gallery session. To book a self-guided visit, call 020 7747 2449 or email