Sessions for secondary schools

Bring National Gallery paintings to life with a session delivered by a Gallery educator (free for UK schools)

Bookings for the Summer Term are now open. Themed tours are available on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Interactive Gallery sessions: Themes for Key Stages 3, 4, and 5

Please choose from a theme below (please note that we cannot guarantee that you and your pupils will see a requested painting as part of your guided visit).
Sessions last one hour and are free for UK schools.

For overseas groups, there is a charge of £50–75 a group.

Pupils will see a maximum of three paintings as part of their facilitated visit:

General introduction

Learners will be introduced to the National Gallery Collection and its history. Time in the Gallery will be spent discovering paintings that demonstrate the breadth of the collection in terms of time, subject, and technique. Pupils will explore changes in painting techniques, styles and subject matter and consider how to look at and understand works of art. They will be encouraged to discuss the paintings in a lively and critical way. 

Materials, techniques, and processes

Learners spend time exploring different materials and processes that are used in the making of paintings, and their different properties. A specialist educator will investigate visually with your pupils how artists create, for example, perspective, pattern, colour and light.

Please specify upon booking what you would like your session to focus on.

History through art

The National Gallery represents a slice of history (Western European History, 1250–1912), and paintings can be a good and useful record of a different time and place – such as Renaissance paintings, for example. 

The materials artists had available and as a result, the way paintings look, can tell us about changing times. For example, portraits can show us how wealth, power, and status were understood and conveyed, at different times, places and political contexts; changes in fashion and etiquettes can be explored as well as the effects of significant cultural and technological changes such as the coming of the railways and photography.

Please select one of the following periods upon booking: Renaissance, Baroque, The Dutch Golden Age, or Impressionism.

Landscapes, portraits and identity, still life, the human figure

Pupils will be given an overview of their chosen genre, looking at how it has been approached by different artists working across the periods covered in the collection. Specialist educators will guide learners through the key elements of composition in their chosen genre and encourage them to compare variations of style and technique.
Please specify upon booking which area you would like your session to focus on, namely, Landscape, Portraits and Identity, Still Life or the Human Figure

Myths and legends

Learners explore a selection of myths and legends through the visual language of paintings and gain more of an understanding of the genre. Specialist educators will encourage pupils to express their opinions and ideas about the stories explored. These narratives never fail to engage young people. They can be a good way of encouraging looking at paintings, but specific links can also be made for students studying Homer and Virgil.

Visual analysis

This session searches through the collection finding hidden symbols in paintings. Specialist educators guide pupils in looking for clues and making connections between objects in the paintings explored. Pupils develop their visual literacy whilst building their confidence in describing and discussing what they see.

Religion in art

Learners will consider how religious narratives can be represented in paintings – particularly in the comparison of two treatments of the same subject (e.g. The Annunciation).

Pupils will be guided in thinking about how artists represent moral ideas in Christian art – ideas of good and bad behaviour, the demands of family, sacrifice and duty.

Sessions may act as a general investigation or focus on particular festivals such as Christmas or Easter.

SEND groups

All of the above themes can be adapted for SEND groups. Please contact us for more information about how we can meet your group’s needs.

Group size: 10 maximum

For overseas groups, there is a charge of £50–75 a group.

Pupils will see a maximum of three paintings as part of their facilitated visit.

To book

Please phone 020 7747 2424 (select Option 1)

Group size: 10–90 pupils (maximum of 30 students per group)

Pupils with additional and special needs: Please specify upon booking if your pupils have additional needs.

Cancellation policy: 30 days prior to session

We welcome bookings from International Schools and offer tours in English or French. Please specify your requirements at the time of booking. Contact us for more information on costs and to make a booking.

Self-guided visits

You may prefer to design and lead your own Gallery session. To book a self-guided visit, please email