Guide for teachers: How to access CPD in museums

Are you looking for ways to use museums and their collections more in your teaching? Lots of museums offer CPD (continuing professional development) for teachers. Here's a quick guide to getting started.

Taking part in continuing professional development (CPD) offered by museum learning teams is great for topping up expertise in specific areas – for example, about ancient civilisations or a specific artform – and developing practice and pedagogy in using museum sites.

Museum CPD is also very cost effective, with museums subsidising courses or sometimes offering them for free.

Museums want to help schools

Learning is in the DNA of museums and galleries; they are public institutions that exist to share knowledge. Pupils, and therefore teachers, are a key audience for museums.

Museums want to support teachers in their work and are eager to help you. Any information you give museums about what you need will help them to shape their work and improve their services for you, your pupils and your colleagues.

Museums offer teacher CPD

Many museums have existing teacher CPD programmes that they run throughout the school year, including sessions they offer online. If there is a specific subject you want to develop your subject knowledge in, look at the websites of museums that cover that area – for example, for science, the Science Museum or the Natural History Museum. National museums like the Imperial War Museums, National Gallery or Royal Museums Greenwich work across the UK.

Find local and online CPD

To find out what’s on offer from your local museums, take a look at our Art Map to find museums and galleries local to you. On the museums’ own websites, look for the ‘Learning’ or ‘Schools’ section to find out what they offer for teachers.

Add yourself to the museum’s schools mailing list to be notified as INSET, online twilights or in-person meets are arranged, or email the museum’s learning team to ask what they offer.

Many museums will tailor something specifically for you or your team. Costs for this start at around £50 for an hour.

What's on offer

Here are just a few examples of what museum learning teams offer teachers.

You can learn about ancient civilisations at Norwich Castle, the Great Fire of London with the Museum of London, and about Design & Technology topics with the V&A.

Learn more about teaching science topics with the Science Museum, and about delivering STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) with the Museum of Making in Derby. Royal Observatory Greenwich offers courses on teaching about the solar system and physics on Future Learn.

Leeds Museums and Galleries can run tailored training online or in person on topics from Ancient Egypt to understanding chronology, to human geography. The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge offers CPD on art and artists from the Ancient World to now. Imperial War Museums offers training on teaching the Holocaust.

You can join local teacher CPD networks at Liverpool Museums and Turner Contemporary, and join free online training on how to use museums from the University of Glasgow and the Science Museum.

Whichever national curriculum topic you want to learn about, there’s a museum that has it in their collection – and learning professionals, many of whom used to be teachers, want to help you.

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