The Englefield Estate has been praised for giving children a “unique and exciting experience” at its annual Schools Days - and granted the prestigious Sandford Award for Heritage Education.
After an exhaustive assessment during a site visit in June this year, the assessor found the event, which annually welcomes more than 1,500 primary school children to Englefield, to be “supremely well-organised, safe, accessible and inspirational.”
Staff from departments across the 14,000-acre Estate in Berkshire were joined by experts from other organisations, as the grounds at Englefield were transformed into an outdoor classroom for the 26th annual Schools Days this year.
Among the many activities that were organised, students worked with carpenters to build tree sparrow nest boxes, learned how wheat is grown and turned into flour, and planned a water supply system.
The topics covered during the day were: health and wellbeing; history; habitats and wildlife; trees and timber; farming and food; community and energy and water – and the Estate was praised for including lots of practical work and hands-on-experience, as well as giving the pupils detailed information.
In its citation alongside the award the assessor said: “The Schools Days at Englefield Estate offer pupils exciting, interactive and memorable experiences that have a powerful effect on their understanding and appreciation of sustainability. The beautiful landscape and impressive Englefield House provide an excellent setting for exploring local heritage and the natural environment.
“The Benyon family, the Estate staff and the partner organisations together generously share their knowledge and passion with schools to facilitate thoughtful engagement and meaningful learning. The Schools Days are supremely well-organised to be safe, accessible and inspirational.”
The Sandford Award assessor shadowed a group from a Hampshire primary school which attended the event and reported that the activities they experienced in the seven different topic areas followed “clear and consistent learning objectives and curriculum links.”
Dr Liz Mattison, Englefield Estate’s Education and Environment Officer, said the granting of the Sandford Award was “a credit to all involved.”
She went on: “We know how much schools value the annual Schools Days from the feedback we get from teachers and pupils, but to have this endorsement and the granting of a Sandford Award is extremely rewarding. It is truly a team effort to put on this event and the credit should go to all those who played their part, both from the Estate and the outside organisations.”
The Sandford Award Presentation Ceremony takes place at Hampton Court Palace on Monday 6 November in the Clore Learning Centre.
Over 500 heritage sites and services across the British Isles have received the Sandford Award since the first awards were made in 1978. They include museums, galleries, castles, churches, historic houses, cottages, palaces, archaeological sites, and zoos.
The Sandford Awards focus on formal, curriculum-aligned, heritage learning programmes that take place in the historic setting or natural environment and use the history and collections or natural resources to engage, inform and inspire visitors. Recognition is also given to informal learning such as family programmes and self-guided provision.
The award is described as an opportunity “for services large and small to shout loud and proud about their offer, while also reflecting on where they feel they could make improvements which would elevate their service even further.”
Our thanks to all our volunteer guides who generously give us their time and energy over the course of the two days and to all the organisations who participated in Schools Days 2023: