Sydney Russell School pupils with Aris Dimakos, Assistant Vice Principal, with their Champion Heritage School Award
Sydney Russell School pupils with Aris Dimakos, Assistant Vice Principal, with their Champion Heritage School Award
Sydney Russell School pupils with Aris Dimakos, Assistant Vice Principal, with their Champion Heritage School Award

Historic England selects Sydney Russell School for new heritage award

Sydney Russell School in Dagenham has been selected for a prestigious new Champion Heritage School Award by Historic England in recognition of its commitment and excellence in teaching pupils about their local heritage.

The school is one of only eight across the country, and the only secondary school, to receive the accolade. It was chosen on account of the inspiring work it has undertaken through Historic England’s Heritage Schools programme.

Sydney Russell School is an ‘All Through School’ in Dagenham, East London. They joined the Heritage Schools Programme in 2014. The school celebrates its own rich history and has strong links with the local community.

In November 2018, the school hosted an evening of remembrance to mark the Centenary of the Armistice. Through this expressive arts project, Sydney Russell supported several new schools in Barking & Dagenham to achieve the Heritage Schools Award.

In 2019, the school collaborated with the borough archives to create “Evacuating Dagenham”. This marked the 80th anniversary of the evacuation of local children at the start of the Second World War.

Pupils found out about the impact of the war on Dagenham by studying local wartime records such as the local bombing map. The highlight of the project was an event where former evacuees shared moving stories of life during the war with local pupils. 

As a Champion Heritage School, Sydney Russell will work with Historic England over the coming year through the Heritage Schools programme to pilot a new school-led scheme, aimed at highlighting the importance of local heritage and how it can be integrated into a range of subjects.

As part of the award, Sydney Russell will receive £1,000 to support this work.

As this is the first year of Champion Heritage Schools, teacher and pupils at Sydney Russell School will play a key role in shaping the scheme’s activities and its future development.

Such activities could include testing new local heritage education resources, developing a panel of young heritage ambassadors and sharing best practice in heritage teaching.

Sydney Russell School is thoroughly deserving of Champion Heritage School status, and will serve as an inspiration to other schools looking to weave local heritage through their curriculum. I’m delighted to continue working with Sydney Russell students and staff to shape and deliver this new scheme over the next year, following on from over 6 years of successful collaboration.

Helen Spencer, Local Heritage Education Manager, London Historic England

Working with Historic England has been a very rewarding experience for staff and students alike. It has allowed our students to connect with the history of their own environment as well as develop their research skills and deepen their historical understanding. We are very proud at Sydney Russell to have been chosen as a Champion Heritage School and are excited about the opportunity to work even more closely with Historic England this year.

Janis Davies, Principal Sydney Russell School
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