Quality Mark for Care Leavers

The Quality Mark was created to celebrate the commitment of universities and colleges to support students who have experienced care. The last awards were made in 2015.

Over many years, Buttle UK’s grant giving brought to light the difficulties that care leavers faced when going to university. We commissioned a five-year research project looking at the experiences of the small number of care leavers that did manage to attend. It uncovered a systematic underestimation of the ability and potential of care leavers, overcome only by their own resilience and persistence.

The Quality Mark was Buttle UK’s response. Based on the research findings it provided a framework that allowed universities, and later on, further education colleges, to develop their support for children and young people who had experienced care.

In order to be awarded the Buttle UK Quality Mark universities and colleges had to offer a minimum level of support to care leavers, but also demonstrate a commitment to improving their provision further.

The research also informed Government policy, in particular the 2007 'Care Matters: Transforming the Lives of Young People in Care' White Paper, much of which is now incorporated in legislation.

By 2014 we had recognised that the successful Quality Mark had achieved its goal of raising awareness among universities and colleges. Looked after children and care leavers had become a recognised group, with many institutions demonstrating exemplary support for them.  In addition, structures and organisations now exist, beyond Buttle UK, to continue the work of promoting their needs, and so we made the decision to discontinue the scheme. The last awards were made in 2015 and all have now expired.

A number of key documents produced in relation to the Quality Mark are available here.

Institutions who wish to find out more about supporting care leavers should visit NIACE.

The Caring University in 2016: Practice, Partnership and Strategy with the Care Experienced Student (Andrew Rawson, Action On Access, 2016) describes how universities are working in 2016 with care leavers to better aspire to, to access, and to succeed in higher education. The report illustrates the experiences of care leavers and of care experienced students and describes the legacy and impact of the Buttle UK Quality Mark for Care Leavers.

Buttle UK are grateful to the following for their support of this area of our work:

Esmee Fairburn Foundation The Sylvia Adams Charitable Trust The Freemasons Grand Charity KPMG Foundation

Care leavers at university

1% of care leavers went to university before the Quality Mark, by 2011 it had risen to 6% Department of Education

52 week accommodation is now provided all year round for care leavers by most UK universities. Buttle UK

199 institutions, 114 universities and 85 colleges achieved the Quality Mark Buttle UK