The Sandford Awards for Heritage Education


The Heritage Education Trust was conceived as a direct consequence of the 1977 European Architecture Year. Founder members of this project, Lord Montagu, the then Chairman at English Heritage, Lord Sandford, at The Department of the Environment and Commander Michael Saunders Watson President at the Historic Houses Association sought to carry forward the idea of raising the profile of the educational use of historic properties.

Lord Sandford instituted an award scheme to encourage those responsible for running historic houses and guide their educational endeavours by monitoring standards. "The Sandford Awards" were originally run by The Council for Environmental Education. However, in order to administer and develop this work more fully, the Heritage Education Trust was established in 1983.

Entrants for Sandford Awards are assessed by a panel of independent Judges. The current panel of Judges is drawn from professional educationalists including OFSTED Inspectors, former head teachers, education consultants and heritage property based education officers.

The Sandford Award Scheme currently encompasses 200 historic sites within the historical and cultural environments of the United Kingdom and Ireland and including historic houses, museums, galleries, cathedrals, places of worship, gardens, landscapes and historic artefacts.

Owners and managers of heritage properties, where special provision has been made for educational visits by children of statutory school age, are nominated or invited to apply for The Sandford Award for Heritage Education .

The Awards are made annually and are non competitive, recognising quality and excellence in the educational services and facilities at a site, as specified in the criteria laid down by the Trust:

An interpretation of the property that contributes to an understanding of the relevant local and national heritage.

Development of the programme through consultation with educational customers and advisors

Availability of the statutory and the desirable domestic facilities

Attention to good management and administration concerning all aspects of the visit

Provision of the relevant educational resources and facilities that enhance the quality of the students visit

The Award is valid for five years from the date of the Award, after which all Award holding properties are required to apply to the Heritage Education Trust for a full reappraisal of their educational programmes. The five year validation period will be shown on the Award Certificate. Failure to reapply or to pass a new inspection will, subject to appeal, result in the property losing the listing as a ‘Sandford Award Holding Property’ and with it the right to display the “Sandford Award Winner” logo on publicity and educational material

Awards are presented to the winners at a National Presentation Ceremony held at one of the winning properties in late autumn of the year of application, It is a major event in the Heritage Education calendar and all winning properties are invited to attend.

How to apply

Please note that the 2012 application round will is now open. The deadline for applications will be the 17th February 2012. If you would like to be added to the mailing list for the Sandford Awards, please email your contact details to:

or write to:

The Heritage Education Trust
Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln

Alternatively, you can telephone the Sandford Award office on: 01522 583695.

Application Form: Download Application Form

Sandford Award and Judging Criteria:
Download Criteria

List of Winners: Download list of winners

To assist applicants, a sample completed Application Form from 2009 is available for reference.
Download Sample Application Form

The Judges' Panel covers a range of expertise within the historic environment. To ensure consistency in the assessment process, the Judges work to a common plan, as detailed in the Judges’ Handbook. This is a useful reference tool for applicants to understand the assessment process.

Download Handbook

The Sandford Award is regarded as an independently judged Quality Assured Assessment of Heritage Education within the historic and cultural environment.

Recognition of the importance and the prestige of The Sandford Awards is reflected in the Annual National Ceremony.

David Lammy, MP Minister for Culture at the DCMS in presenting the Sandford Awards for 2005 affirmed the role of the historic environment in introducing young people to the culture and history of Britain and the importance of the work of The Heritage Education Trust in ensuring high standards and purposeful visits.

"I believe the idea of linking our cultural heritage with schools is a very important one. There are many exciting programmes about doing just that, The Sandford Awards celebrate the most successful. I want to encourage that relationship and think one way of doing that is to encourage The Sandford Awards and applaud them for what they have done."
The Right Honourable Charles Clarke, MP Secretary of State for Education and Skills November 24th 2003

In recent years the venues have included:

Durham Cathedral
Windsor Castle
Hampton Court Palace
The Royal Air Force Museum at Cosford
Edinburgh Castle
Big Pit: National Mining Museum of Wales
Thackray Museum
Wallace Collection
HM Tower of London
Llancaiach Fawr Living History Museum
Goodwood House
Glamis Castle
HMS Warrior - Flagship Portsmouth
The Queen's House, Greenwich
Dunham Massey
Rockingham Castle
Lichfield Cathedral
The Bass Museum
Culzean Castle
Cathedral Church of St Albans
Wimpole Hall
Wigan Pier

Awards have been presented by:

Professor Dame Rosemary Cramp, DBE, FSA
His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex KG KCVO
Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, KBE
Director of the Heritage Lottery Board
Kathleen Dalyell
Minister for Culture
Chairman of Board of Trustees, Royal Armouries
Secretary of State for Education and Skills Rosalind Savill, Director of the Wallace
The Secretary of State for Scotland
The Minister for the Arts
The Archbishop of Westminster
The Admiral of The Fleet
The Chairman of English Heritage
Mr Magnus Magnusson
Lord Briggs of Lewes
Mr Simon Jenkins.
Miss Sara Edwards, BBC Wales

Heritage Education Trust
Chairman: John Hamer
Chief Executive: Dr Tracy Borman

The Heritage Education Trust, Bishop Grosseteste University College, Lincoln, LN1 3DY
Telephone:+44 (0)1522 527347

The Heritage Education Trust is a Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee Registered in England No. 2080758 Charity Commision Registration Number: 297311
Registered Office: Walnut Tree House, The Pound, Bromham, Chippenham, Wiltshire