Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum wins Sandford Award for ‘excellent’ education programme

Dorset’s Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum has won the prestigious Sandford Award for Heritage Education 2019.

The award, from the Heritage Education Trust and Bishop Grosseteste University, recognises excellence in heritage education programmes. Since it opened its doors in May 2018, thousands of school children and students have been through Shire Hall’s historic courtroom to learn about children and teenagers like themselves, whose lives were forever changed or even ended, by their experiences there. Shire Hall delivers a wide variety of programmes for schools to fit around different elements of the curriculum including History, Literacy, PSHE, SMSC British Values and creative activities. Programmes include workshops looking at individual criminal case studies, Crime & Punishment, The Tolpuddle Martyrs, Victorian Life and Literature on Trial

Learning manager Anne Brown said she was delighted to win the award, especially as judges visited in April, meaning they won the prestigious award within their first year of opening. She said: “I’m absolutely thrilled, it’s such an honour to get it – especially in our first year of opening. To get this award for a programme we have put together from scratch is amazing – I’m so happy.

“We have such a unique and beautiful building and an amazing set of stories. Creating a programme from scratch has been a challenge but it’s been very exciting, and this is just the start. We want to keep developing the schools and offer life-long learning programmes, so it’s lovely to know we are on the right track.”

Anne added that the award was a special testament to the skills and dedication of the team’s volunteers, adding: “I’m so proud of the learning volunteers, they are incredibly supportive and knowledgeable, so it’s fantastic to get this well-deserved recognition all their hard work. It’s a great example of all the wonderful work that goes on at Shire Hall.”

One of the best parts of the job was helping to highlight the hidden historical voices of Dorset’s people, and bringing their stories and experiences to light.

The award will be presented to the team at a ceremony later this year. The judges praised Shire Hall, its staff and volunteers saying: “Thorough research by the excellent Learning Team has resulted in the creation of a variety of stimulating and interesting learning programmes.

“Children are challenged to use authentic historical stories to gain a greater understanding of the lives and difficulties encountered by people in the past, and to discover the consequences for those who found themselves passing through the doors of this imposing building. A visit to Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum is one children will long remember.”

For more information about the school sessions available at Shire Hall and how teachers can work with the team to deliver learning outcomes, call Anne Brown on 01305 261849 or email [email protected]