Following successful pilot phases, the NNECL Quality Mark was publicly launched in June 2021.
Our approach built on the pioneering work and legacy of the initial Buttle Trust quality mark which significantly raised awareness of care experienced students in HE and FE but was sadly discontinued in 2015.
With initial grant funding from the UPP Foundation, we developed a new Quality Mark and ran an initial pilot in 2019 involving seven universities and four FE colleges. The outcomes of that work, alongside regulatory changes and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, further shaped the project. As a result, the Quality Mark has a stronger focus on mental health and wellbeing as well as more detailed written guidance, templates and support for institutions. We also benefitted from the engagement and feedback of an Advisory Board involving many other expert organisations, sector bodies, researchers and policy-makers.
In early 2021, we completed a collaborative Quality Mark project with a group of 8 universities and colleges in Greater Manchester, funded by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority as part of its commitment to care leavers. This project further enabled us to test and refine the process on a collaborative basis, using a mix of one-to-one virtual consultations alongside whole group meetings every three weeks to discuss issues and emerging evidence.