The Sandford Award is provided by the Heritage Education Trust in partnership with Bishop Grosseteste University and is the only body in existence to provide independent quality assurance for heritage education. Over 500 organisations from across the British Isles have received the award since the scheme began in 1978 and it is currently held by over 200 museums and heritage sites.

This year, the Sandford Award will once again celebrate high quality in heritage education provision from a broad range of heritage sites and services across the wider UK heritage sector including Lincoln Cathedral, Blists Hill Victorian Town, Royal Air Force Museum London, Stonehenge and Wessex Archaeology.

The award focusses on formal, curriculum-linked education opportunities, although recognition is also made of informal learning such as family programmes and outreach. The awards are made annually and are non-competitive.

The newly awarded sites are set to be recognised for their heritage education work at the Trust’s very first virtual event on Wednesday 8 December at 11am; a joint celebration of 2020 and 2021 Sandford Award recipients.

The Sandford Award supports heritage learning professionals to be strong advocates; improving provision and partnership working within their organisation to benefit diverse audiences. The Heritage Education Trust developed a new online approach to the assessment of the Sandford Award in response to the pandemic and will be adopting new ways of working in order to do so effectively.

To achieve the rigorous assessment criteria, organisations must demonstrate the delivery of high-quality heritage education. Applicants for the award carry out a reflective self-assessment of their work, consult with their service users and present evidence of achievement against six assessment criteria. This is reviewed by an experienced peer volunteer assessor and followed up by an assessment of the education service, mentoring, and a report with advice for improvement. Organisations benefit from the process and particularly value the opportunity for constructive, critical review with an experienced peer, and the opportunity to learn through sharing good and effective practice.

John Hamer OBE, Chair of the Heritage Education Trust, said: The last two years have posed immense challenges for all of us. This year’s Sandford Award ceremony – for the first time virtually – celebrates the success of the heritage sector in general, and the 2020 and 2021 award winners in particular, in overcoming the many difficulties resulting from the pandemic. They are to be warmly congratulated on their achievements.

Professor Scott Fleming, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Bishop Grosseteste University said: “After what the heritage education sector has been through since the spring of 2020, on behalf of Bishop Grosseteste University, I’m delighted that we’ll be able to celebrate the successful Sandford Award recipients for 2020 and 2021.

“It’s always a super event – online this year – when we recognise sector-leading organisations of different kinds from Britain and Ireland.”

The establishments that received the awards in both 2020 and 2021 are as follows:

2020 award winners

Amersham Museum

Chelmsford Museum

Colne Valley Museum

EPIC: The Irish Emigration Museum

Holdenby House

Hopetoun House

La Hougue Bie Museum of Jersey Heritage

Lincoln Cathedral

Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre

Pontefract Castle

St Albans Museum + Gallery

Wirksworth Heritage Centre

World Rugby Museum

2021 award winners

1066 Battle of Hastings Abbey and Battlefield

Alnwick Castle

The Battle of Bannockburn

Beeston Castle and Woodland Park

Blists Hill Victorian Town

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Carlisle Castle

The Collection

Conisbrough Castle

Crich Tramway Village

Discovery Museum & Tyne & Wear Archives

The Dorman Museum

Durham University Library and Collections, Oriental Museum

Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre

Haslemere Museum

Head of Steam: Darlington Railway Museum

Jarrow Hall: Anglo-Saxon Farm, Village and Bede Museum

Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden

King Richard III Visitor Centre

Knebworth House

Layer Marney Tower

National Maritime Museum Cornwall

National Museum of Scotland

Osborne House

Parliament Education Centre

Royal Airforce Museum London

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Stafford Castle


Tatton Park

The National Museum of Computing

Tower Bridge

Wessex Archaeology

Worcester Cathedral

A full list of current Sandford Award Holders:

The 2022 Sandford Award opens for entries on Monday 13th December. Find out how to apply at:

3rd December 2021