Museum accredited with prestigious SANDFORD AWARD for it’s Learning Programme

The Museum of East Dorset has been presented with the highly esteemed Sandford Award for Heritage Education, recognising its dedication to providing engaging and enriching educational experiences.

Since 1978, The Heritage Education Trust has been running the Sandford Award to praise heritage sites across the UK that run educational programmes. It is the only scheme in existence that judges formal learning programmes at heritage sites, with a particular focus on how sites such as The Museum of East Dorset can link to the curriculum children are learning in the classroom.

Engage with the past. Be inspired for the future.

Education is central to The Museum of East Dorset’s ethos and values. As such, the museum runs a highly successful Learning Programme for schools and colleges across the whole of Dorset and beyond.

The Museum of East Dorset excelled in all judged categories and the award recognised how central and important its educational programme is. The assessor was particularly impressed by the dedication of our experienced volunteers and how ‘in all sessions, the long history of the building and the extensive collections were utilised to inspire children to discover the stories of the past that the museum holds, to make learning fun, active and memorable.’ He said, ‘One of the most captivating parts to see in use is the range in the kitchen, where children can also use original or replica items, including weighing scales and toasting forks.’

The Museum of East Dorset goes to great lengths to ensure its education curriculum is as inclusive as possible. Activities and resources are created to encourage and inspire learning for all ability levels. One of the many aspects of our learning programme that the assessor praised was that we provide specialist ‘Superhero Sensory Sacks,’ aimed at our neurodiverse community, but can be used by anyone. These contain resources such as ear defenders, communication boards and fidget toys. A ‘Sensory Safe’ zone can also be set up, including a blackout tent, optical fibre lamps and sensory floor mats.

We were also greatly applauded for learning and engagement throughout the museum, stating that it ‘contains fully interactive computer screens, games and audio enhancements. There are activity boxes relating to each gallery with engaging, hands-on resources for families to enjoy and children from the age of two years upwards. There are giant skeletons to build, smelly bags to smell, bells to ring, chalk to write with and a dressing up corner.’

The Museum’s director, Chezzie Hollow added, “Education is at the heart of everything we do at The Museum of East Dorset, so we couldn’t be happier to receive this prestigious award. Our team – including our Learning and Community Engagement Officer and volunteers – are passionate about creating an environment that makes heritage learning engaging, inspiring, and accessible. Our unique education programme does just this, and we’re now looking forward to building on this success to develop our programmes even further.”