KS3-5 Art & Photography

(John) Peter Warren Cochrane, by (Gordon) Howard Eliot Hodgkin, 1962 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

(John) Peter Warren Cochrane
by (Gordon) Howard Eliot Hodgkin
NPG 6888

Year 7 - 13

The National Portrait Gallery Collection contains a wide variety of portraits that represent the rich identity and diversity of British history, art and culture. Our Secondary Art & Photography programme for KS3+ students has been designed to help contextualise the purpose and process of portraiture and portrait making from the 16th Century to the present day. The Gallery is a unique learning environment where everyone is free to question and consider our Collection and respond either through discussion or creative activities.

Talks and Tours

Our programme of FREE Gallery sessions and talks aim to inspire and challenge students enabling them to analyse and respond to the Collection. Critical thinking skills are developed through discussion based activities.

Two session types are available, plus a range of themes:

Gallery session: 60 minutes – unless otherwise stated
One class, maximum 25 students

Lecture Theatre Discussions: 60 minutes
Maximum 138 students

FREE (unless otherwise stated) Cancellation and no-show charges apply. See terms and conditions

Booking essential

Think like an Artist

How do artists push boundaries and think creatively, questioning the world around them? Through discussion and debate, students look at the Collection with an artist’s ‘eye’; given the opportunity to analyse portraits and think critically about the artistic concepts, content and processes.

What is Portraiture?

What is a portrait? Why do we make them? Why do we display them? Students explore the history of portraiture from the Tudors to Contemporary. Students are encouraged to consider why the content, style, purpose and approach of portraiture has changed and adapted over time.

Image and Identity

How do we convey to others who we are and what we feel? Creating a likeness of a person can be achieved in a number of ways. Explore ways in which past and present portraits can be interpreted in terms of image and identity and consider how this applies in the world around us.


How have artists chosen to represent themselves from the past to the present day? What are the challenges of self-representation? Discover the mood, form and process behind some of the most interesting self- portraits in our Collection.

Berto Pasuka, by Angus McBean, 1947 - NPG  -

Berto Pasuka
by Angus McBean
NPG x199306

The Photographic Portrait

Explore and make connections between photography and a wide variety of other portrait processes, within the Collection. Consider the relationships between contemporary and historical approaches and works.

Signs and Symbols

Artists have used the language of visual symbols for centuries. Explore symbolism in portraits from the Tudors to the contemporary collection, detecting hidden meanings and messages.

20th Century Portraits

Explore the Gallery’s extensive twentieth-century portrait collection. Students are given the opportunity to discuss the context and content of key examples.

Exhibitions & Displays Talks

For talks on our Exhibitions and Displays; please go to Exhibitions & Introductory Talks

Meet the Artist

Meet the Artist is a unique opportunity for students to connect with practising artists who are associated with the National Portrait Gallery through exhibitions, commissions and our programme of portrait prizes.

Dates for Meet the Artist sessions are released throughout the academic year. Please check our website, sign up to the schools termly newsletters or follow us on twitter.

Image banner: Photograph Marysa Dowling ©National Portrait Gallery, London

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