Back to school at Young V&A

September 11, 2023
A group of visitors outside Young V&A
Students from St Ursuline Academy outside Young V&A

Young V&A has had a whirlwind summer, opening its doors to the public on 1 July and welcoming over 100,000 visitors in its first 6 weeks. It’s been a busy summer of play and creativity, as families and groups have explored our collections and our permanent galleries. 

With the new academic year upon us, we are now looking forward to the start of our programme for schools, and we hope many more children and young people will be educated, enriched, and inspired at our new museum. 

Young V&A’s permanent galleries have been built for learning – young visitors can try out their speaking and listening skills in our Imagine Gallery by making up and sharing stories inspired by our objects, they can hone their team working skills through collaborative creative play in our Play Gallery, and budding young designers can have their first taste of research and design skills in our Design Gallery as they explore case studies that present different ways that design can meet our needs. In each of our galleries you can find exhibits developed with East London schools including St Ursuline Academy, Central Foundation Girls School, Globe School, Bangabandhu School and Mowlem School.  

A group of school children next to a display case. There are several small objects inside.
Pupils from Mowlem Primary standing next to a case study they helped create

Our school programme has been developed for learners from the Early Years Foundation Stage, up to Key Stage 3 (so from age 3 to age 14).  Schools can book ahead to visit our galleries from September, we will have slots for schools to experience our new exhibition Japan: Myths to Manga from mid-October, and our programme of curriculum-based facilitated workshops will open for booking mid-way through the Autumn Term and workshops will take place from January 2024. 

Activities for schools will take place across the museum, including in the galleries and in the new Clore Learning Centre, which is home to brilliant creative spaces that will support learners taking part in workshops and taught sessions to get creative through access to materials and museum handling objects. The Clore Learning Centre includes the Portal Trust Community Room – a base where schools can leave their coats and bags, have their packed lunches, and regroup to reflect on their visit. 

Over the last two years we have been developing and testing ideas for our schools’ programme and we are grateful to the many teachers and learners who have given us feedback, taken part in pilots or hosted outreach activities to inform our planning. 

Highlights of the programme will include:

Sounds Good! (Early Years) 

This session is inspired by our Play Gallery and exhibits that support literacy, speaking and listening skills for children in the Early Years Foundation Stage (ages 3, 4 and 5 years) 

Children can explore sounds and phonics through story and museum objects in this fun experience for nursery and reception classes.  Starting with a well-loved story, this 45-minute hands-on session led by a museum facilitator helps build creative and collaborative skills as children help us fill the gaps in our museum alphabet of objects. 

Hero Arm (Key Stage 1) 

Children in Years 1 – 3 can find out what makes us all amazing by exploring design and 3D printing.  The invention of 3D printers has enabled companies like Open Bionics to create affordable, customisable prosthetic arms for people with born or acquired limb differences. Using an inspirational storybook as a starting point, pupils will take part in creative activities that explore the design processes of Open Bionics’ Hero Arm

Think Small (Key Stage 2) 

This workshop invites learners to role play as architects and clients in this introduction to user-centred design. Develop a brief, design, and evaluate a home, and build it using our miniature Imagination Playground and loose parts. Suitable for years 4 – 6, this session supports design and technology, as well as communication and collaboration skills. 

Design Can (Key Stage 3) 

Inspired by case studies from the Design Gallery, secondary school learners aged 11 – 14 can research objects from the gallery, use a range of materials to test out ideas in 3D and finally respond to a design challenge. 

Get involved! 

If you would like further information about opportunities for schools at Young V&A do sign up to our schools newsletter or email us at

If you are based in East London and would like to participate in pilot workshops, please email  

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