KS3-5 History

Year 7 - 13

Our History programmes encourage students to learn to think like an historian, to use portraits as historical evidence and to gain an understanding of how key images have helped shape our knowledge of the past.

The portraits help students raise questions and explore how people’s lives have shaped the nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world. The collection is an ideal starting point to explore issues of empire, democracy and historical significance for students KS3, GCSE and AS/A-Level.

Gallery session: 90 minutes – unless otherwise stated
One class, maximum 30 pupils

Lecture Theatre Discussion: 1 hour
Maximum 90 students

FREE (unless otherwise stated) Cancellation and non-attendance charges apply. See terms and conditions. Booking Essential.


Students will examine portraits of key personalities from the Tudor period as historical evidence considering how they inform our knowledge of the period. They will learn to think like a historian applying these skills to portraits. Students will explore recent research undertaken as part of the Making Art in Tudor Britain project, to understand how and why such images were made.

King Charles I; Sir Edward Walker
by Unknown artist
circa 1650
NPG 1961

Lead up to the Civil War

Students examine portraits from the civil war and the decades preceding it and consider the reliability of these images as historical sources.

During the autumn term this session is only available in the lecture theatre.

Florence Nightingale receiving the Wounded at Scutari'
by Jerry Barrett
circa 1856
NPG 4305

Victorians: Portraiture, Propaganda and Power

Consider how portraits, including Queen Victoria, were constructed to give powerful messages about Britain and its relationship with the wider world.

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (Job ben Solomon)
by William Hoare
NPG L245

Campaign for the Abolition of Slavery

Looking at key figures along the road to Abolition, this session culminates in an exploration of the large scale painting showing Thomas Clarkson addressing the Anti-Slavery convention of 1840. Students consider how individuals work together to bring about major social change. They discuss the similarities and differences with modern campaigns and explore how attitudes have changed over time.

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