The Sandford Award is an independently judged, quality assured assessment of education programmes at heritage sites, museums, archives and collections across the British Isles.

The Heritage Education Trust is the only body in existence able to provide independent quality assurance to historic properties and collections which run education programmes. Together, these two institutions subsidise the cost of entry to the Sandford Awards five-fold in order to cover the cost of the assessment, the reporting process and the presentation ceremony.

What is the Sandford Award?

The Sandford Award is an independently judged, quality assured assessment of education programmes at heritage sites, museums, archives and collections across the British Isles.

Over 500 sites including historic houses, museums, galleries, places of worship, gardens, landscapes and collections – have received an Award since the scheme began in 1978. They include the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh; official residence of Her Majesty The Queen in Scotland, Worcester Cathedral, Holdenby House in Northamptonshire, London Transport Museum and Lismore Castle Arts in Northern Ireland.

The Sandford Awards represent a broad spectrum of heritage sector partners who recognise the importance of the continuing programme of quality assessment that they provide and we work in partnership with the Historic Houses Association and Historic Royal Palaces who are leaders in heritage learning. The National Trust, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Scotland, English Heritage and National Museums in England, Wales and Ireland all submit their properties for assessment alongside local authorities, independent trusts and private owners.

The Awards focus on formal, curriculum-linked education opportunities offered to schools by heritage sites, although recognition is also made of informal learning such as family programmes. The Awards are made annually and are non competitive.

Testimonials from previous winners

The feedback that we receive from applicants proves how valuable they find the process:

“A thorough judging process. An award worth having."

“It was a rigorous process for assessing the quality of the educational provision within the heritage sector, which could then be flagged up as a Quality Mark to our users, potential users and colleagues."

“We gained ‘Quality Assurance’ from a well respected and widely acknowledged organisation."

The report was very useful as it highlighted the areas where we are performing to a high standard and also outlined areas where we could improve. Having a document to share with the rest of the education team and the rest of the Museum staff was really useful.

A previous winner

How the Sandford Cascade Project Works

An aspiring site (Scholar) will be placed with a Sandford Award winner (Fellow) and support and capacity will be added through training, volunteer involvement, a range of user-friendly e-learning and funds to meet costs as well as financial contributions for those involved. Scholars will receive good practice and learning from their Fellow(s) via short (potentially ‘virtual’) placements, and will in turn ‘cascade’ this back into their own site or collection.

Heritage experts have produced short films and follow-up support to encourage continued professional development in the historic environment. It is anticipated that this development will create a suitable platform in which heritage learning staff and volunteers can enter into professional discussions and also source relevant support and good practice.

The Sandford Cascade project is also building the foundations for an exciting informal learning award that seeks to recognise good practice and the fostering of positive relationships between visitors and venues.

The principal aim of this scheme is to build capacity and resilience within the heritage learning sector in the East Midlands. By the development of strong networks of learning, cascading and sharing good practice, we can support the shaping of a resilient heritage economy in the region. Heritage sector professionals and volunteers will be enabled to build sustainable opportunities for the benefit of their service users and sites in the historic environment.

For more information, please contact our Sandford Cascade Co-ordinator Rachel Bryant by emailing or calling 01522 583750.

2018 Sandford Award Winners

The Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, East Anglia

Bassetlaw Museum, Nottinghamshire

The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, Kent

Belton House, National Trust, Lincolnshire

Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, Leicestershire

Boughton House, Northamptonshire

The Bowes Museum, County Durham

Brading Roman Villa, Isle of Wight

The Commandery, Worcestershire

Creswell Crags Museum and Heritage Centre, Derbyshire

Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Wales

Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Derbyshire

Dinefwr, National Trust, Wales

Discovery Point and RRS Discovery, Scotland

Eastbury Manor House, Greater London

Fota Wildlife Park, Ireland

Gilbert White & The Oates Collections, Hampshire

Hampton Court Palace, London

Harewood House Trust, West Yorkshire

The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Kent

International Bomber Command Centre, Lincolnshire

The John Moore Museum, Gloucestershire

Leeds Discovery Centre, West Yorkshire

Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills, West Yorkshire

MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) – Time Truck, London

Mousetrap Theatre Projects’ Creative Learning Portfolio, London

Muckross Traditional Farms, Ireland

The Museum of Cannock Chase, Staffordshire

National Civil War Centre – Newark Museum, Nottinghamshire

National Coal Mining Museum for England, West Yorkshire

National Justice Museum, Nottinghamshire

Peterborough Museum, Cambridgeshire

The Postal Museum, London

Preston Park Museum and Grounds, County Durham

The Priest’s House Museum, Dorset

Ripon Museum Trust, North Yorkshire

River & Rowing Museum, Oxfordshire

The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Buckinghamshire

Southwell Minster and the Archbishop’s Palace, Nottinghamshire

Staircase House, Greater Manchester

St Albans Cathedral Learning, Hertfordshire

Thwaite Mills Watermill, West Yorkshire

Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery Trust, Cumbria

Verdant Works, Scotland

Victoria Tunnel, Newcastle upon Tyne

Wilberforce House Museum, Hull and East Riding

Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, the All England Lawn Tennis Club

Worcestershire County Museum

The Workhouse, Southwell, Nottinghamshire

Want to find out more?

Please visit where you will find out more about the awards and how to apply.

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Tel: 01522 583695

You can contact us at:

The Sandford Award
Bishop Grosseteste University
Longdales Road