Project Type: <span>Museums</span>

Charging Schools: Why and How?

This research is a snapshot of the charging models at Museums and Galleries across the UK in 2024. As schools and the cultural sector face a challenging economic climate, the National Portrait Gallery asked Flow Associates to undertake research into current charging models for school visits across the museum and gallery sector to inform their own work.  They have kindly agreed for us to share a summary of the research to support the sector as a whole in understanding the approaches taken by organisations to ensure both equitable access to cultural education, and the drivers for financial sustainability.

This will be a helpful document to enable my powers that be to understand why we need to be careful with price rises for educational bookings.” Museum educator in response to our Facebook post in ‘Learning in Museums and Galleries’

We wanted to understand the following:

  • What charging models exist in Museums and Galleries for Primary school, Secondary school, College and Special school visits?
  • How much do they charge? Are concessions made/bursaries given to e.g. for schools with high pupil premium?
  • How much do other, comparable Museums and Galleries charge and what are they charging for?
  • By charging schools can you cover ‘real’ costs?
  • Is charging likely to be a barrier for schools in general and/or for particular types of school?
  • How might charging for schools impact negatively on Museums and Galleries?

Download PDF “Charging Schools: Why and How?”

As this paper emerged from research for its commissioner, the National Portrait Gallery, our comparitive review looked at the learning programs offered by 22 Museums and Galleries and selected organisations that were either National Museums as designated by parliament, or based in London and therefore catering to a similar demographic. Our focus here was on museums and galleries which are free to the public, and the majority have charges for special events and exhibitions. We included two relevant london galleries who charge general public for entry, the Photographers gallery and the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Both offer free entry for schools. In addition we ran a quick review of a further 19 organisations to establish whether or not they charge schools for their programmes.

An open online survey to members of the Group for Education in Museums network, saw contributions from a further 61 organisations and we have included their anonymised responses in this paper.



Natural History Museum

A major research and consultation project working with curatorial and Learning teams to develop a new Children’s Gallery, a global international education initiative, onsite programming and online activities. We worked alongside the teams onsite on remotely to establish the guiding principles for the project, develop key interpretive themes and programming which engages young people with caring for and understanding their immediate natural environments and ecosystems as well as those globally.

The research explored how to:

  • Optimise the experience of the new Children’s Gallery, through activities on themes of Wild Voices, connecting with animals’ lives in different habitats.
  • Lift barriers of access to schools, families and groups with intersecting factors of disadvantage or SENDs, by consulting them, travelling to settings with activities, and easing their experience of the NHM as a whole.
  • Inspire and acknowledge young children as imaginative friends of the natural world, and provide templates for partners in the GEI, through online resources for digital and real-world play and nature connection.
  • Develop skills of adults (including NHM staff and volunteers) to reconnect with nature and support children through a ’School of Nature Play’.
  • To do action research as the activities are developed, to serve the global initiatve with insights.