Autumn term 2022: onsite sessions

Autumn term 2022: onsite sessions

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The National Archives




United Kingdom

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Our on site sessions help students engage in historical enquiry working with original documents in our education suite at The National Archi

About this event

Our on site sessions help students engage in historical enquiry working with original documents in our education suite at The National Archives in Kew. The education suite is 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. We accommodate group sizes of between 8-35 students, and all groups must be accompanied by at least two adults.

If you require a change in the time of the session to suit travel or timetable needs, please make a note of it on the booking form.

Please note that certain workshops can be taught at different Key Stages.

Please visit our website for more information on the delivery of sessions and to download preparation packs for use in the classroom prior to your visit.

You can contact the Education team on if you have any questions about booking onto the workshops.

Please note that if you require a reservation for a coach bay, you can now do this online at: 

--------------------------------- Sessions we teach:


Great Fire of London: how can we know what happened back in 1666? - This session introduces pupils to The National Archives and to some of the famous documents connected with the Great Fire of London. Pupils are introduced to primary source material as they investigate what happened in 1666 and develop their skills of historical enquiry.


Four days’ hard labour: what was life like for a Victorian child criminal? - Photographs, reports and drawings from our prison records are used to explore the lives of Victorian children who were classed as criminals. Pupils investigate Victorian attitudes to crime and punishment, and explore the cases of children imprisoned at Wandsworth Prison in the mid-19th century.

Henry VIII: image of a king: was appearance everything for a ruler in the 16th century? - Henry VIII used symbols and images to display royal power. In this exciting session, pupils work with original documents from Henry’s reign to investigate how he was portrayed as a great monarch.

Maps – a study through time: how and why does an area change over time? - This engaging session introduces pupils to some of the beautiful maps from our vast collection. From the Tudor to the Victorian period, pupils explore the ways in which London has changed over time. Pupils consider which era saw the most significant change and why; and how these different changes have marked London over time.

Propaganda and the art of war: how did the British government encourage people to support the war? - Pupils explore original propaganda posters, photographs and film to compare their effectiveness in conveying powerful messages to a mass audience.

Unmasking a spy: who was Karel Richter?­ - Exploring documents taken from secret Security Service files compiled during the Second World War, pupils piece together the story of German spy Karel Richter.

What is history?: How do historians know what to believe? - This exciting session gives pupils the opportunity to work with a range of primary documents selected around a specific theme. Pupils will gain an understanding of how different types of sources can be used to find out about the past, and how historians can use these sources as evidence.


Domesday Book – medieval treasure: what can we learn about people’s lives in 1086? - Is the Domesday Book the most important document held here at The National Archives? In this essential workshop for beginner historians, students examine how far Domesday Book is really useful when studying medieval society. They will then judge its value against some of the greatest medieval documents in our collection. Students have the opportunity to examine some original documents from medieval England, including tally sticks, the Domesday Abbreviato and a king’s wax seal.  Key stages 2-3.

Enquiring into Elizabeth: what were the issues faced by England’s most famous Tudor Queen? – What was Elizabeth I’s personality like? This session, run in partnership with Westminster Abbey, offers students a rare opportunity to handle original documents from the reign of Elizabeth I as well as to visit Westminster Abbey, the Coronation Church and the final resting place of Tudor monarchs. Please contact us for information regarding dates. Key stages 3-5.

Resistance and Rebellion in the Caribbean: how did enslaved people resist? - In the Caribbean, enslaved workers continually resisted their conditions. From day to day acts of resistance, such as killing livestock and pretending to be ill, to full-scale armed revolts, enslaved people confronted those that enslaved them in very different ways. In this session students will examine fascinating original documents to explore the different methods of resistance enslaved people used to resist slavery and why these were so important in their pursuit for freedom.


Britain and the Holocaust: how much did the British government know? - Students study telegrams, radio intercepts and reports received by the Foreign Office between 1942 and 1944. They learn about how the events in Nazi occupied territories unfolded and the subsequent reactions of the British government. Key stages 3-4.

Crime in Whitechapel: why was 19th century Whitechapel so hard to police? - Using original documents from our collection, students will explore the key features of Whitechapel in the 19th century to uncover why this area was such a challenge for the Metropolitan Police. Students will also discover how the police sought to overcome these challenges, from dressing as women to developing silent footwear, in their bid to rid Whitechapel of Jack the Ripper. Key stages 3-4.

Medicine on the Western Front: how can we find out medical treatment in the First World War? - Using original documents, from medical cards completed in the trenches to army service records, students explore fascinating personal stories from the First World War. This workshop develops students’ skills at selecting sources for particular historical enquiries. Students will investigate diverse experiences including a soldier with gas poisoning and a nurse suffering the psychological effects of working in a hospital. Key stages 4-5.


Chartism: who were the Chartists? - This session examines Chartism through the lens of prison interviews conducted by the Home Office in 1840-1841. Using this material, students gain a fascinating insight into the lives of people participating in the early phases of the Chartist movement.

Civil rights and racial segregation: what was the response to racial segregation in the US? - Exploring a range of Foreign Office files produced by the British Government during the presidencies of Eisenhower, JFK and Johnson, students will investigate the response of the ordinary Americans and the US government to segregation within the USA.

Cold War: what was the British government anxious about during the Cold War? - Using documents from Cabinet minutes, the Prime Minister’s records and Foreign Office files, this workshop focuses on British relations with the United States and the Soviet Union during the early years of the Cold War. Students also have the exciting opportunity to explore recently opened files, including those that cover the subject of espionage! 

Crisis in the reign of Mary I: how far can Mary I’s reign be considered a time of crisis? - In this exciting session, students work with original Tudor State Papers and consider what is meant by the term ‘crisis’. How far can this notion be measured during Mary’s reign? This session can be combined with a visit to Hampton Court Palace, where students take on the role of Mary’s councillors and put their concerns to the Queen in person.  Please note because this is a combined session with Hampton Court Palace, a fee is payable.

Elizabeth I in her own words: what can we learn about Elizabeth I’s style of ruling? - Scrutinising a selection of Elizabeth’s speeches and letters, students familiarise themselves with the personality of this formidable monarch and the challenges she faced. Was she true to her motto ‘Semper eadum’? This session also showcases some of the beautiful images of Elizabeth throughout her reign.

Independent research: do you need help with your independent research? - This informative session gives students the opportunity to explore a selection of original documents with the guided support of an Education Officer. Sessions are available on the following themes: The Tudors, Crime and Punishment, American Civil Rights, Partition, Suffragettes and the Cold War.  Students will also find out about the role of The National Archives, and how they can obtain a reader’s ticket for future research.

Suffragettes through government eyes: 'A little daylight game'? - Exploring a range of documents taken from Home Office and Metropolitan Police files, students find out about some of the most extreme militant acts committed by suffrage campaigners in the early 20th century. How did police, government and locals respond to this militancy?

Tudor rebellions: how seriously did they challenge the authority of the crown? - Students explore original documents from the State Papers of Tudor monarchs, to consider the extent to which rebellion threatened the country 1536-1569.

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