Art galleries: Become a freelance lecturer

What does your role involve?
I teach groups of children across all key stages on school visits to the National Gallery.  Each teaching session takes place in front of the original works of art and is interactive.  They last around an hour in length and have cross-curricular links to the national curriculum. I also teach students and teachers to show them how they can use the paintings in the classroom.

What were you doing before?
I had worked as a primary school teacher, advisory teacher, and as deputy head of a large primary school and then decided to opt for a career change.  I chose this kind of work because it still involved teaching and art but in a different more flexible environment. 

What’s best about your job?
I really enjoy teaching different age groups and children from diverse backgrounds. In the past, teaching has taken me out of the classroom and buried me in paperwork. Here, I can indulge in doing what I love best, teaching, in an environment that is second to none with visual aids to die for! It is wonderful to have the opportunity to go to the curators talks and visit exhibitions that you probably would not have had time to go to.Being freelance gives me the flexibility to do other things too.

What’s worst?
You can’t always get to the painting you want to show the children/ group if it’s really crowded.Being freelance, you only get paid for the hours you teach, so there are no paid holidays.

What are the difficulties and how do you overcome them?
It’s hard when the gallery is busy, but there are over 2000 paintings to choose from so there are always alternatives.

What skills are needed for the job?
I think you need to have good questioning skills and modern teaching methods, as the talks are very interactive. You need to have the ability to relate to all ages (including the general public), and confidence is key.  It’s vital to have a sound knowledge of the Gallery and its paintings, and of course, knowledge of the National Curriculum.

Why should others think about becoming a freelance lecturer ?
If you love teaching and have the desire to inspire young people to love art, then this is a very enjoyable way to fulfill your aspirations…away from the paperwork.

How do I find out more?
For gallery lecturer roles nationally, visit Gem. From time to time vacancies are advertised on the National Gallery website or in The Guardian newspaper.


Want to know about other non-classroom roles? Visit New career directions