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Planning your school visit

Planning your school visit

Planning your school visit

Our tips to enjoy your class visit to the National Portrait Gallery

We welcome school and college group visits to the National Portrait Gallery. We hope that you enjoy your visit to the Gallery and ask that you read these guidelines before booking in order to plan a successful visit to the Gallery for you and your class.

Taught sessions

Join our freelance team for educator-led sessions in the gallery spaces or hands-on workshops. Book from our suggested sessions. Taught sessions led by our team of educators are available Monday to Friday during school term time

Self-directed visits

To run your own session, please contact us to book the relevant Gallery rooms you wish to visit.

How do I make a booking?

Advance booking is essential for all groups of 10+, for both taught sessions and self-directed visits.
We recommend at least one months’ notice to make a booking to avoid disappointment. To book call 020 7312 2483 or email: [email protected]

What we need to know when you book

  • Dates when you’d like to visit; have some alternatives ready just in case
  • Number of pupils / students and accompanying adults. Please note our recommended child: adult ratios are:

    Early Years Foundation Stage (3-5 years old) 1:6
    Key Stages 1-2 (5-11 years old)   1:10
    Key Stages 3-5 (11-18 years old) 1:15

    We can book a maximum of 90 students at a time depending on availability.

  • Which session and/or Gallery rooms you require and the topics you are studying
  • The age range and ability of your pupils including any with special educational needs.

Risk Assessment

The Gallery’s Risk assessment is available to view when planning your education visit.

Data Protection

The National Portrait Gallery is committed to protecting your privacy. All personal data provided will be held and processed securely by the Gallery in accordance with the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018. It will only be used to administer your enquiry or booking in accordance with the Gallery’s public task; and will be retained by the Gallery for as long as is necessary to administer your enquiry or booking. Your personal data will not be passed to any third parties. For more information, please refer to the Gallery’s Privacy Notice.

How many guided visits can I book?

Due to the popularity of our programmes, we can provide each school with up to four taught sessions for different classes each term.

What if we need to cancel our booking?

Cancellation, non-attendance and change of booking date charges apply for guided sessions with immediate effect at the point of booking, please see below.

Please also let us know if you want to cancel a self-directed or exhibition visit:

Cancellation of Free schools sessions

£100 cancellation, non-attendance or change of booking date for sessions up to 90 minutes
£150 cancellation, on-attendance or change of booking date for all other events and workshops

Cancellation of Charged schools sessions

All charged sessions are non-refundable. A cancellation, change of booking date or non-attendance fee of £150 or the total cost of your booking (whichever is greater) will be applied.

How do we get to the Gallery?

The Gallery is located opposite the Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, north of Trafalgar Square.  The nearest Underground stations are Leicester Square and Charing Cross and there is a mainline station at Charing Cross.  Parking is not available at the Gallery however if you are travelling by coach there is a lay-by just outside the Gallery for drop-off and pick-up only.

For a map and further transport and accessibility, details please see the ‘getting to the Gallery pages

Where is the group entrance?

Enter via the main entrance on St Martin’s Place. Accessible entrance to the Gallery is either via our Gallery Shop on St Martin’s Place or the entrance on Orange Street, please check, which is more appropriate when booking.

What if we are running late for a guided Gallery session?

If you are having a guided session please allow plenty of time on arriving at the Gallery for your group to use the cloakroom and toilet facilities in order to start your session on time. Please call us on 020 7312 2483 if you are running late, however it may not be possible to extend your session.

What if we are running late for our timed exhibition visit?

Entry to the exhibition cannot be guaranteed if you miss the time you have been booked to visit the exhibition, so please call us on 020 7312 2483 if you are running late. To collect your tickets one group leader should go to the main Ticket Desk in the main hall. Please note that pre-paid exhibition tickets are non-refundable.

Is there an admission charge?

Admission to the Gallery is free.  Facilitated booked sessions are free unless otherwise stated. Some temporary exhibitions have an admission charge. Pre-booked groups are entitled to a reduced exhibition group ticket rate, payable in advance. Please check when booking.

Where does the group sign in on arrival?

To ease over-crowding in the entrance and Main Hall, large groups are asked to wait outside the Gallery or outside the Ondaatje Wing Lecture Theatre on Level -2 while one group leader signs in; please have your copy of your confirmation letter with you. Please sign in at the ticketing information desk in the main hall.

Where do we meet our Educator for a guided visit?

Your Educator will meet you on arrival at the Main Entrance. Alternatively, one group leader should go to the ticketing information desk in the main hall to contact your Educator. Please bring a copy of your confirmation letter with you. Group leaders will be given a badge to wear while in the Gallery so that they are easily identifiable. Once signed in please proceed to the schools cloakroom to deposit all bags or go to the designated Gallery room. 

Where do we go for a self-guided visit?

Sign in for your self-guided visit at the ticketing information desk in the Main Hall. Please bring a copy of your confirmation letter with you. Group leaders will be given a badge to wear while in the Gallery so that they are easily identifiable. Please brief your students and pupils about the Gallery guidelines and if your group is large ensure they split up into smaller supervised groups as they move around the Gallery.

Please note if you come across a room where Gallery guided teaching is in progress or due to take place please avoid or vacate the room and come back later. (Please check your confirmation letter or ask on arrival for the rooms you can visit or should avoid)

The Tudor galleries (rooms 1 – 3) have limited capacity so please state if you wish to visit these rooms at the point of booking and see our guidelines.

A range of learning resources are available to support your visit.

Can we sketch and draw?

Groups are welcome to draw in the Gallery using dry materials only (no liquids or powder like materials) and small sketchpads. Please do use stools available on each floor to avoid sitting on floors or leaning against walls, and please do not use stools or materials put out for other groups.

Where can we leave our coats and bags?

Please ask staff at the ticketing information desk in the Main Hall about access to the schools cloakroom. It is advisable to reduce the amount of personal belongings you bring on your visit. Valuables should not be left in the cloakroom and all belongings are left at the owner’s risk. We regret that the cloakroom cannot be used as a space for eating packed lunches. At busy times, priority use of the cloakroom is for groups on guided visits.

Do you have a lunch room?

We regret that there are currently no facilities for eating packed lunches at the Gallery. Please take this into consideration when booking visits to the Gallery during the winter months. Groups usually eat in Trafalgar Square or St James’ Park, which are very close by.

Toilet facilities

Our toilets are open to the public so please consider bringing a ratio of male and female group leaders to support your group when using our public toilets. Accessible toilets are available on each floor; please ask our front of house colleagues as required.

How can our group visit the shop?

Please divide your group into groups of 10 or less to ease access to the shop and to ensure you are able to look around comfortably.

Can we take pictures in the Gallery?

We allow the taking photos without flash unless otherwise stated and please limit the use of your mobile phone while in the Gallery.

Group leaders are responsible for the behaviour of their pupils throughout the visit.  We reserve the right to ask groups who do not respect these guidelines to leave the Gallery. 

Thank you for ensuring your group behave considerately, and we hope you enjoy your time at the Gallery. If you have any further questions or feedback, please do get in touch.