For the third time, Stockport Air Raid Shelters and Hat Works Museum have received the prestigious Sandford Award for heritage education.

The Sandford award is an independently judged, quality assured assessment of education programmes at heritage sites, museums, archives and collections across the UK. It focuses on formal, curriculum-linked education opportunities offered to schools by heritage sites such as the Air Raid Shelters and Hat Works, as well as informal learning such as family programmes.

The Sandford Award, which is valid for five years, offers a kite mark which confirms high-quality education provision which is widely recognised and respected by schools, education institutions and the heritage sector.

The Stockport Museums’ Learning team collected their awards at the London Transport Museum this weekend. The judges’ citations were as follows:

Stockport Air Raid Shelters: “Here you can take part in an exemplary, evocative, emotional and engaging history session. From the moment the door is first opened by the WVS Air Raid Officer, children dressed as evacuees step back in time to wartime Stockport in the 1940s. Brought to life by excellent costume interpreters, children discover, imagine and explore through handling objects from the period including gas masks and air raid sirens. They journey through the network of Stockport tunnels singing wartime songs to keep their spirits up, touching the sandstone walls and reflect on real life wartime scenarios. The highly experienced costume interpreters bring history alive in this unforgettable experience. By the end of the experiential learning session, life in wartime Britain is embedded in children’s minds and they have gained deep knowledge and understanding of their local history.”

Hat Works Museum:  “This museum continues to play to the strengths of its important site and collections, offering high quality teaching and learning about hats and the important place of Stockport in the history of hatting. Skilled and experienced learning staff inspire and engage visitors of all ages through a mix of demonstrations, role play and practical workshops and the service continues to develop and grow with new opportunities for babies and toddlers as well textiles courses for adults.”

Councillor Martin Candler, Stockport Council’s Executive Member for Supporting Places, said: “I am immensely proud of the Learning Team at Stockport Museums. To receive the Sandford Award for the third time demonstrates that our museums continue to offer a high-quality educational experience to school children who visit our sites.”

For more information about the education programme at Staircase House, please contact the Education Team on 0161 474 4449 or visit

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