GILBERT White and The Oates Collections at Selborne have been awarded a prestigious award for education.

The Sandford Award is an independently judged, quality-assured assessment of education programmes at heritage sites, museums, archives and collections across the UK.

The awards focus on formal, curriculum-linked education opportunities offered to schools by heritage sites, although recognition is also made of informal learning such as family programmes.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Sandford Award programme is managed jointly between the Heritage Education Trust and Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln.

The Gilbert White Field Studies Centre, the museum’s education and learning department, has massively developed its education programme in recent years.

Some 6,000 students aged four to 18 pass through its doors each year, studying a variety of subjects such as river geography, geology, mapping, habitats and adaptations, and Antarctic exploration.

The Field Studies Centre also has a wonderfully rich extra-curricular school events programme, providing clubs, sleepover experiences and workshops and talks.

The session evaluated was a Year 1 Antarctic explorers session for 60 pupils. The museum tells the story of the Terra Nova Expedition, the tragic story of Lawrence Oates and Captain Scott and his ill-fated team.

Sandford Award judge Louise West said: “Gilbert White and The Oates Collections in Selborne have reason to be proud with their first Sandford Award.

“The schools programmes they offer help to enlighten and illuminate the ecological contribution and interest of Gilbert White, Frank, and Lawrence Oates.”

Receiving the Sandford Award means the Field Studies Centre now has a ‘kitemark’ for quality education provision which is recognised by schools and other education institutions across the UK. This can attract new visitors to the museum and field studies centre.

And the collections have national recognition among the heritage sector of the personal contribution of its staff, which is expected to motivate the whole site to develop its good practice further.