Our taught sessions for schools are offered free of charge. They are very popular and need to be booked in advance.
Sessions we teach
Our sessions are delivered by a team of education officers and costumed interpreters, and can be run in three ways:
- workshops at The National Archives, Kew
- virtual classroom sessions
- videoconferencing sessions
Our taught sessions are designed by qualified teachers to complement the National Curriculum for History or relevant exam specifications syllabi. They are delivered by teachers, or in some cases by costumed interpreters.
Our programme caters for students from key stage 1-5, SEN students and undergraduate groups. We also offer CPD for history teachers. Find out what type of session would suit your group best:
All workshops take place in our Education Room at The National Archives in Kew; a pupil-friendly, welcoming, purpose built classroom, equipped with a SMARTboard, iPads, audiovisual equipment and an induction loop. Using documents from the collection, our enquiry-based sessions aim to deepen students’ understanding of evidence and develop their skills of analysis. Our SEN programme is specifically designed for pupils with severe learning difficulties and profound and multiple learning disabilities, and use multi-sensory and interactive activities to engage students. We also run actor-led workshops.
We accommodate group sizes of between 8-35 students. All groups must be accompanied by at least 2 adults.
Find out about visiting The National Archives
Select a workshop.
We can connect with you online via our virtual classroom service. This interactive virtual environment enables students to participate in a live session led by an actor or an education officer from The National Archives. Students interact on computers or iPads to examine and annotate high quality digital images of original documents, and exchange ideas and ask questions via a chat-box and by microphone.
See what other teachers have said about the virtual classroom:
Giving the girls the opportunity to ask their own questions whenever they wanted throughout the discussion, via the chat box, gave an excellent insight into how they were processing the information. They were all able to contribute ideas at their own pace, as opposed to perhaps relying on others in the class to put their hand up in a classroom situation…Work did not have to be presented in a particular way so the girls were more free to express themselves and their ideas.
Year 6 teacher
What does my school need to run a virtual classroom session?
The virtual classroom runs through Blackboard Collaborate. The programme requires Java Software, and can be downloaded onto your school network for free.
You will also need one webcam, microphone and enough computers or iPads for students to log into the virtual classroom individually or in pairs. Audio can be played through speakers in the classroom, or through individual headsets. A member of the team will contact your school in advance of your session to test the audio and video.
We run virtual classroom tasters which are a chance for you to try out the software with us before the actual session.
Select a virtual classroom.
During a videoconference, students interact live with Education staff from The National Archives, or with actors. High quality scans of documents are projected into the classroom for students to analyse and interpret. Original documents can also be viewed via a bird’s eye camera. Students ask questions and share ideas with the education officer, and have the opportunity for paired or group discussion.
What does my school need to run a videoconference session?
Your school will need specialist videoconferencing equipment. This comprises of a television camera, microphone and CODEC (a piece of hardware or software that converts digital and audio data). We advise you to consult your IT co-ordinator if you are unsure whether you have specialist videoconferencing equipment, or require support setting it up.
Find more guidance:
- A blog run by consultant Mina Patel, for anyone interested in using videoconferencing in the classroom. The blog includes useful tips, for example Mina suggests taking a photo of your equipment so that you have a record of where the wires should go.
Select a videoconference.
The education service offers an introduction to The National Archives for groups of undergraduate students and their course supervisors throughout the academic year. The sessions are intended as an introduction to the use of archives and primary sources for historical research, and more specifically to the use of resources at The National Archives.
Students will have the opportunity to work on documents from our unique collection, both in the reading rooms and in our purpose-built education room. We aim to give them the opportunity to develop the skills of selecting and analysing original documents for their research topics.
The workshop will include:
- a general introduction to the content of The National Archives collection and its history
- discussion of conservation issues and guidance in the handling of documents
- guidance in the use of our digitised catalogue and the document ordering process
- exploring online access to other relevant archive collections
- a tour of the reading room facilities
The National Archives produces a range of stand alone online resources for you to use in the classroom. These include online lessons, which you can print out or present on a whiteboard.
We also produce document collections based on different themes or time periods. Each collection is introduced by a historian of the period and contains teachers’ notes with suggested ways on how to use them in the classroom. You can download all documents which are copyright-free for use in the classroom.
We often produce Pinterest boards to accompany our online resources. Visually engaging, we believe they are a good way to spark a classroom discussion, and you can pin the content that’s relevant to you to your own boards.
We have also produced a wide range of interactive topics such as Focus on Film, which was nominated for a Children’s BAFTA. This resource also contains a large film archive. Also our Victorians website can be used to help students develop evidence skills.