The Philosophy Of The Sandford Awards
With the rich diversity of historic properties covered by the Sandford
Award scheme and the variety of education programmes within these sites, it
is difficult to be specific over the resources and services to be assessed. In
general, the facilities that we encourage are ones that fulfil a function and
enhance the educational nature of the visit.
Foremost, we believe that a school visit to a historic site should
encourage empathy between the student and the context of the property. It
should inspire awe and wonder, with the desire to investigate further and
stimulate a lifelong interest in our heritage. The child of today is the decision-
maker of tomorrow and the custodian of the future.
We do not like to see students undertaking tasks and projects that
they could just as easily and meaningfully undertake back in the school
environment. Art and craft work, dance and drama can draw on the
inspiration of the visit without sidelining the opportunity to appreciate the
historic surroundings on offer during the visit. For this reason we do not like
to see emphasis placed on a ‘classroom’ as a working base for visiting groups.
We do like to see a base suitable for pupils to be greeted and orientated;
somewhere where they can leave their bags and packed lunches. We like to
see them out and about exploring and integrating with the heritage. They
are long enough in classrooms at school.
Similarly, we believe that the use of role-play and costume, if offered,
should be an integral part of the learning experience and not an excuse
simply to dress up and have a photograph taken.
In summary, historical context, relevance and accuracy are what we seek.
Heritage Education Trust
Boughton House, Kettering, Northamptonshire NN14 1BJ
Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee, Registered in England, Number. 2080758
Charity Commission Registration Number: 297311
Sandford Awards: Frequently asked questions
Why the ‘Sandford’ Awards?
The Awards are named after their founder, Lord Sandford. He was Minister
for the Environment during the European Year of Architecture and was
inspired to continue the educational access to historic buildings pioneered at
that time. To further this, he developed the Award scheme to promote an
acceptable standard of educational provision that schools should seek and to
which properties should aspire in their provision. This scheme now includes
educational provision at all historic sites, including buildings, landscapes,
gardens and artefacts, e.g. ships.
Are they like the ‘Oscars’™?
Only in the way in which they are much sought after! Otherwise they differ
markedly. The Oscars are for ‘best of…’ the Sandford Awards are non-
competitive and only differentiate on the ability to meet a set standard.
Members of an academy nominate all the Oscars; the Sandford awards are
open to all, on a self-nominating basis. There are a limited number of Oscars
each year, we are pleased to give as many Sandford Awards to all those that
apply and meet the standard.
Sandford Awards should be regarded as benchmarks, not self-congratulatory.
How much does it cost to enter?
Assessment under The Sandford Awards is sought by historic properties,
frequently charities, where the education service usually operates on a very
limited budget. The Heritage Education Trust would like to offer the
assessment service for free, but this is not possible at the present time.
At present, properties pay £150.00 for entry into the Award scheme.
What do I get for my entry fee?
For this, each applicant receives a full day visit by one or two qualified
Judges, who shadow an educational group, look at the facilities and talk to
the staff to determine that the service, as provided, meets the criteria.
Following the visit, the Judges prepare a written report, which is discussed
by the whole Judges’ Panel, who then make recommendations for Awards
to the Directors. The Report is subsequently made available to the
Property and may include constructive criticism and suggestions, as well as
a thorough review of the educational provision.
Tight financial controls are exercised. Volunteers, who undertake all the
judging and administration, receive expenses only for their travel. No
payment is made for time.
The Award is given in the form of an individualized presentation plaque at the
National Awards Ceremony held annually at one of the winning properties.
Each property receives two invitations to the Ceremony, within their entry
A recent analysis showed that to judge each property cost, on average, a
total of £583.50. The property contributes £150.00 so the subsidy provided
to each applicant by the Heritage Education Trust is £433.50.
Why do I need to be reassessed every five years?
The evolving nature of education through the National Curriculum means that
no site can stand on its laurels. Five-year reviews were agreed to allow
trialing of new programmes and to consider any changes brought about by
Properties can ask for a year of grace for their review, if they are undergoing
fundamental internal changes. However, if a property does not request such
a deferral or fails to undergo a successful review, its listing, as a Sandford
Award Holding Property, is withdrawn after six years
Who are the Sandford Award Judges?
The Judges’ Panel currently consists of fourteen members, all of whom are
professionals within the heritage education field, either current or retired. All
undergo training with the Heritage Education Trust and work with their
colleagues to share experiences and skills to lead to consistency in our
assessment programmes, many are Ofsted trained. We include Educational
Inspectors, Educational Lecturers, Property Education Officers, a Director of
Education, Headteachers and Educational Consultants. They are based
throughout the country.
Why do sometimes two Judges visit a site at the same time?
In recent years, for our own self-evaluation, we have sometimes send two
Judges to each property on the same day. Often the Judges will have
differing expertise, which allows the many facets of a visit to be covered more
thoroughly. There may be different activities taking place with students from
separate schools or varied ages, with two Judges more programmes and the
management of such sites can be shadowed. It also allows time for one
Judge to talk with the site staff or to look at other appropriate aspects of the
facilities. It maybe that one is a new Judge, ‘shadowing’ a more experienced
Occasionally one of the ‘Judges’ maybe a Director or the Chief Executive of
the Trust, who will be accompanying the visit to help in our own evaluation
programme. We strive to maintain our own standards and be consistent in
What are the benefits of the Sandford Award?
The applicants receive an independently assessed report on their education
provision, which can be used for internal staff development, planning or
promotion. We encourage all Sandford Award holding properties to use the
Award logo on their promotional material to show colleagues and schools that
their service has been assessed and meets the criteria.
Schools undertaking educational visits to historic sites are recommended to
look for the Sandford Award as an indicator of a property that has the
facilities and services suitable for a meaningful and enjoyable programme.
Each Award holder is featured in the annually produced ‘List of Sandford
Award Holding Properties’, freely available and distributed by the Trust as well
as featured on the Heritage Education Trust website. All Award holders are
offered reciprocal links from the Trust website.
What are the criteria for the Sandford Award Scheme and what do the Judges
Criteria for The Sandford Award
The Sandford Award for Heritage Education is made to any heritage property
where the provision for the reception of school or other educational groups is
deemed to meet criteria laid down by the Trust.
The current criteria used judging properties are:
The awareness of and adherence to the statutory requirements of the
appropriate national curricula
An interpretation of the property that contributes to raising the awareness
of the understanding of the local and national heritage
For example- Use of the historical and geographical position of the site;
its connection with great historical periods or events, links with well
known historical characters.
Development of the programme through consultation with educational
customers and partners
For example- Teachers, advisors, inspectors, professional bodies,
Educational Business Partnerships, Universities, Colleges of Education
Provision of relevant educational resources
Context of property and its environment, archival evidence, oral
history, use of costume, use of artefacts, leisure and tourism courses.
Quality of content and ease of use- rather than design presentation,
ability to be updated or amended to fulfil changing needs, cross section
of material for differing ability levels and foreign languages
Attention to good management and administration concerning all aspects
of the visit
To include - Facilities for pre-visits and processes for making visits
meet the stated requirements of individual
groups, booking system, greeting, orientation, evaluation, evidence of
good on-site liaison and co-operation
Availability of the necessary domestic facilities
To include - Health and Safety Policy, Risk Assessments, toilets, bag
and coat storage, refreshment areas, a recognition of the needs of all
Provision of additional facilities that may enhance the quality of the
For example- use of modern technology, interactive features, dedicated
education officer, outreach programme
Is the Application form available electronically?
The Application form is supplied as a paper copy, but also can be easily sent
by email or on floppy disk in ‘Word’ format, for your convenience. Please
contact the Chief Executive for further details.
The Heritage Education Trust
Northamptonshire NN14 1BJ
Telephone: 01536 511911 Fax: 01536 417255