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Old Royal Naval College receives Sandford Award for its exceptional education programme


Tue 20 Sep 22

The Old Royal Naval College has been presented with the highly esteemed Sandford Award for heritage education. 

The award is presented by The Heritage Education Trust in partnership with Bishop Grosseteste University and recognises heritage sites like the Old Royal Naval College 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 can provide quality learning experiences linked to the school curriculum and informal learning sessions such as family shows and workshops. 

The Old Royal Naval College’s charitable aims are to educate and preserve. Through its extensive education programme, the site welcomes thousands of children and their families every year, running regular access events and bespoke community projects for a wide variety of non-traditional heritage users, showcasing the world-class heritage on their doorstep.  

The varied exhibition programme explores the lesser-known aspects of its history. In recent years, this inclusive exhibition programme has covered such subjects as the women’s royal naval service and the Black history of the site.   

Over 6,500 pupils and families have taken part in free year-round learning programme via facilitated workshops over the last year.  

One of the highlights of the school programme was the creative writing workshop, in partnership with the literacy charity First Story and the University of Greenwich. The project brought together 83 secondary school students from 5 state schools in Camden, Tower Hamlets and Haringey, all of whom were identified by their teachers as being particularly talented writers. The aim of the day was to introduce the students to university life and allow them to work with staff from the University and the Old Royal Naval College to create pieces of writing inspired by our historical grounds.     

A teacher attending commented: “You can be inspired to write about anything around you. We looked back at history, wrote descriptively about objects. To be given this opportunity is such a privilege. The Painted Hall left me in awe.”   

Alongside a thriving primary and secondary school programme, the UNESCO World Heritage Site with its long and celebrated 500-year history, run regular tours and workshops for community groups, BSL and Audio-Described tours and a lively and varied programme of free activities for families.    

Opening its spaces and bright and well-resourced learning rooms allow the organisation to run workshops and share stories that explore everything from the artistic genius behind the magnificent Painted Hall and Neoclassical Chapel to Tudor beehives and Arctic explorers.    

Claire Kirk, Head of Learning, Interpretation and Collections, at the Old Royal Naval College said: “The report we received from the Heritage Education Trust for the Sandford Award really couldn’t have been better. It reflects all the exceptionally hard work and professionalism the team put into their programmes every day, all year round. We have ambitions to grow our remit, expanding the work we do with hospital schools and offering new outreach workshops in the community. 

In the future we plan to keep up the fantastic work we already do with existing primary school and family audiences, while also working hard to attract new audiences such as secondary schools and special needs groups. Ultimately, the goal is to engage as many people as possible with the heritage of our site.”