About Schools hub


What is Schools hub?

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Screenshot of a young woman sitting at a table with art materials
Venessa Scott in, 'Artist demonstration: how to create a narrative collage portrait'

The National Portrait Gallery’s Schools hub is a free online learning resource designed to support the study of Art & Design and History through the world’s largest collection of portraits. It includes more than 150 specially produced learning resources and videos, all linked to the National Curriculum, and all developed by and with teachers, artists, historians and education experts.

Who is Schools hub for?

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Children sitting on the floor in the Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery’s Schools hub aims to support learning in primary and secondary schools across the UK. Its huge range of resources have been designed to support remote and school-based learning, as well as to complement the National Portrait Gallery’s on-site programme for schools. All resources have been designed to be flexible, so they can be used by learners studying independently, or by teachers with their classes.

How was Schools hub developed?

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Primary school students in a learning session

The needs of teachers and students have underpinned all stages of development of Schools hub and its learning resources and videos. We’ve worked with teachers, expert advisors and subject specialists to produce all resource content, testing it with key audiences throughout the process.

All resources have been mapped to the curriculum, specifically targeting key areas where our research revealed schools are proactively seeking support. These include empire, migration and neglected histories, resources exploring expression of identity through portraiture, and scaffolded resources to better support non-specialist Primary Art teachers.

We aim to continue to be responsive to what schools need and want. Development of Schools hub will therefore continue, with new resources being added over time. 

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How to use Schools hub

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Screenshot of part of the Schools hub web page

The National Portrait Gallery’s Schools hub has been designed to be used flexibly by schools. All resources have been designed so that they can be used whole or in part, depending on the needs of the learner.

Resources can be searched by keyword and filtered by subject, key stage, topic and resource type:

  • Portrait resources offer a detailed exploration of individual, curriculum-relevant portraits within the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection.
  • Learning resources offer an opportunity for a detailed exploration of key topics within the National Curriculum through portraits from the Collection.
  • Videos offer introductions or inspirations for key topics.
  • Learning sessions are available for schools to book on a visit to the Gallery.
  • Our primary school resources and sessions encourage and support active participation, questioning and experimentation to learn about Art and History through portraits. Children develop their visual literacy skills, learning to reveal the stories within the portraits.

    Resources and sessions include fun, engaging and creative activities to explore what portraits can tell us about the people portrayed, and how and why they were created. Learners have the opportunity to build their visual literacy and portrait making skills using varied techniques and materials inspired by artists. History focussed resources introduce and explore the stories and experiences of well-known figures in history alongside hidden histories.

    Explore our primary resources, videos and sessions

  • Our secondary Art & Design resources use portraiture to inspire learning across the curriculum, helping students learn about their own identity, British society and their place within it. Students come face-to-face with people past and present who have contributed to the rich identity and diversity of British history, art and culture. They include opportunities to analyse and connect with historical and contemporary portraits on display, as well as inspiring creative response.

    Art & Design workshops at the Gallery are led by practicing artists and photographers and explore key themes in portraiture including identity, self-portraiture and representation, and include practical making activities.

    Explore our secondary Art & Design resources, videos and sessions

  • Our secondary History resources and sessions are designed to help students practice their historical enquiry skills, and learn to use portraits as historical sources. They encourage and support close looking, questioning and reflection on a range of topics including migration, empire and the Tudors, enabling students to engage with big ideas, individual experiences and hidden stories.

    Explore our secondary History resources, videos and sessions

  • The National Portrait Gallery is for everyone. We are working to make the Gallery and its Collection accessible and inclusive to all.

    All content on Schools hub has been developed to meet the highest standards of digital accessibility possible. Resources, videos and sessions on Schools hub can be filtered for their additional suitability for SEND students and Special Schools.

    All videos include closed captions and associated transcripts. A number of portraits include audio descriptions and more will be available soon. A film, available in British Sign Language (BSL), and a visual story explaining how to reach and explore the Gallery will be available soon.

    Our learning sessions for SEND groups explore portraits in multi-sensory ways and invite students to respond by creating their own portraits.

    Explore our Special School and SEND resources, videos and sessions

    For full accessibility details, please go to the Visit us webpage

How was Schools hub funded?

The National Portrait Gallery’s Schools hub has been developed as part of the Inspiring People project, which physically culminated with the reopening of the Gallery on 22 June 2023. Inspiring People was made possible by major grants from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, as well as major donations from the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Ross Foundation, and generous support from a range of foundations, individuals and other supporters.

Inspiring People principal supporters Blavatnik Family Foundation, Heritage Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation and Ross Foundation

Who was involved in development?

Project advisory group

Thomas Jones, Lecturer in Art & Design Education, UCL Institute of Education 

Anra Kennedy, Partnerships Director, Culture24 

Dan Lyndon-Cohen, Director, Schools History Project 

Shelley Mannion, Chief Product Officer, Verisart 

Richard McFahn, ITE History Lead Tutor, University of Sussex

Video production

Three Arrows Media Ltd, Educational video development and production

Elizabeth Alker, Voice artist

Pogus Caesar, Featured artist

Nina Mae Fowler, Featured artist

Pamela Glintenkamp, Video production management

Robin-Lee Hall, Featured artist

Curtis Holder, Featured artist

Anna Husband, Content advisor

Shirin Neshat, Featured artist

Michael Ohajuru, Featured cultural historian

Nick Reynolds, Featured artist

Olivia Rose, Featured artist

Pictures for the People, Video production

Venessa Scott, Featured artist

Martin Spafford, Content advisor 

SXWKS, Video production

Gisela Torres, Featured artist

Wigglyline Productions, Video production

Malala Yousafzai, Featured sitter

Learning resource production

Lesley Burgess, Content advisor

Jean Campbell, Content advisor

Meera Chauda, Content advisor

Hannah Cusworth, Content advisor

Sian Flynn, Researcher and curator

Rosie Fuller, Resource writer

Mari Griffith, Resource editor

Samantha Hill, Content advisor

Maggie Hills, Resource writer and editor

Lizzie Hilton, Resource writer

Anna Husband, Resource writer and producer

Chloe Jones (NPG Volunteer), Resource research and review

Thomas Jones, Content advisor

Dan Lyndon-Cohen, Content advisor

Richard McFahn, Content advisor

Abdul Mohamud, Resource writer and content advisor

Murray O'Grady, Resource writer

Husna Ramjan (NPG Volunteer), Resource research and review

Martin Spafford, Content advisor

Lauren Working, Resource writer and content advisor

Technical development

Maple Design Ltd, Website development and project management

CogApp, Website integration

Lunamedia Ltd, UX / UI design

PS Research, Audience research and evaluation

One Further Ltd, Digital analytics