Learning with us at the Stanley Spencer Gallery

We welcome school groups to the Stanley Spencer Gallery.  We make no charge for our educational provision.

Although we are a small venue, we have the ability to be flexible and can tailor visits to suit your school and the needs of your curriculum, whatever the level. A visit to SSG is the perfect introduction to an art gallery for young children as it is small, safe and intimate. And for the older student, it is a gem of artistic brilliance and information which will support their creative studies.


Please direct all Schools enquiries to learning@stanleyspencer.org.uk

We offer a programme of opportunities for pupils of all ages and abilities, from KS1 through to GCSE and A level, and can help them to explore the genius of Stanley Spencer. From talks in the gallery, walks around Cookham, and practical workshops, there are plenty of ways in which pupils can engage with and learn about the life and work of one of the greatest British artists of the 20th century.


We can help them to evaluate and analyse paintings using artistic language and give them the opportunity to use a sketch book to record observations. 

We have an extensive archive of files, books and pamphlets which older students can investigate and research as well as postcards, leaflets and mementos that the younger ones might enjoy collecting.


Our guides have a wealth of knowledge and teaching experience and will offer you an interesting, informative and creative experience.

“The painting I was drawn towards the most was Spencer’s ‘Last Supper’. It linked well with the exam theme of ‘Events’ as it reminded me of family meal times and Christianity. This interested me as Spencer painted this event as if it had taken place in Cookham, not Jerusalem. Spencer’s set his ‘Last Supper’ painting in the malt house in Cookham.”


Henry Year 11 – age 16.

From KS1 through to GCSE and A level, we offer a programme of opportunities for pupils of all ages and abilities and can tailor a visit to suit the school and the age groups involved.

  • Gallery Talks – In addition to a brief introduction to the current exhibition, we offer a talk about Spencer’s life and times, his family and personal life, his art training, the many different themes of his paintings and the ideas and experiences which inspired his work.
  • Cookham ‘Walks and Talks’ – Following a talk in the gallery, we offer a guided walk around the village, looking at some of the scenes and landmarks which Spencer portrayed in his Cookham paintings, discovering some of the stories attached to them. Weather permitting, we will be able to do some sketching on location.
  • Practical Workshops – In addition to a gallery talk, we can offer a variety of theme-based practical sessions, either relating to our current exhibition or on an agreed theme.

“I made an expressive pencil study of Stanley Spencer’s 1923 self-portrait as I am interested in portraits, especially self-portraits. In this painting, Stanley looks sad. I tried to capture this emotion in my own drawing.”


James Year 11 – age 15.

We aim to support GCSE and A level Art and Design students in the development of their individual portfolios, sketchbook work, personal studies and group projects. Possible Stanley Spencer related themes which could be pursued at KS4 and KS5:
  • Portraits – How does Spencer convey facial expression, body language, mood, character, feelings? Focusing on self-portraits and commissioned portraits.
  • Landscapes – How do Spencer’s Cookham landscapes define his sense of place? Looking at Spencer’s observational and compositional skills through his Cookham landscapes and flower paintings.
  • Narrative and visionary paintings – Discover the mysteries of Spencer’s visionary paintings and try to unravel the meaning behind them.
  • Construction, composition and structure of a painting – How did Spencer put together a painting in terms of composition, shape, form, tone, colour, grids etc.
  • Simplification and abstraction of images – Are realism, accuracy and detail always the most important aspects of a painting? Where, and to what effect does Spencer abstract, simplify or stylise his subjects?
  • Pattern and texture – Describe how Spencer’s paintings demonstrate his fascination for and love of intricate detail and decorative pattern making?
  • Domestic Scenes – How does Spencer’s love of home and family life come across so effectively in his painting?

We are able to provide drawing boards.

We can offer art materials, although we encourage students to bring their own sketchbooks and drawing equipment for this session.

Some pocket money might also be useful, so that students can purchase postcards, etc.

Students are most welcome to come to SSG independently to draw or study.