Launched in June 2021, the NNECL Quality Mark is a developmental change management process for universities and colleges to demonstrate their support for the inclusion and success of students with care experience and who are estranged.  The QM framework covers:

  • the student lifecycle from outreach through to graduation (and beyond);
  • institutional culture and leadership; and
  • continuous improvement and future plans.

The process involves an institutional self-assessment with support and review by a NNECL assessor.  It is designed to be holistic and proportionate, reflecting the diversity of institutions within the HE and FE sectors.  The guidance document also contextualises the framework against the different requirements and policies of the four nations of the UK.

First awards are made for 3 years. As part of the process, institutions identify future actions to improve their ongoing support for care experienced students.  These actions will then form the basis for re-submission at the end of the award period.   The universities and colleges who have achieved the NNECL Quality Mark are listed over on our Awards page.

Over time, findings from Quality Mark assessments will enable us to build up a more detailed repository of effective practice across the sector to inform future policy and further improvements.  You can see initial learning from the developmental phase on our Learning from the Quality Mark page.

Expressions of interest

Once we have received your expression of interest we will contact you to arrange a meeting to discuss the submission process and your current provision. Once you are ready to go ahead, we will assign you an assessor from our expert panel of assessors and arrange payment of fees for the award with you. 

We recommend the QM submission process adopts a whole institution approach and a working group of colleagues from across institutional departments is formed. Please do contact us if you have any questions.

Quality Mark Renewals

As you near the end of your initial Quality Mark 3 year award period we will contact you to discuss renewal arrangements. The renewal process is a continuation of your initial submission and we will be asking institutions to submit evidence of the work from the action plans, as well as developing a further action plan for the next 3 years of the Quality Mark award. 


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