Buttle UK to phase out Quality Mark, as the education sector states its commitment to care-leavers

14th April 2014

After 8 years, we believe the Buttle UK Quality Mark has achieved everything it set out to do, and more. It is therefore the right time to bring the Quality Mark to an end.

Following the ‘By Degrees” research in 2000, the establishment of Buttle UK’s Quality Mark in 2006 aimed to raise awareness of the challenges faced by care leavers and looked after children in progressing successfully to higher and further education.

The awareness of the issues around the educational progression of students from care has risen significantly and the Quality Mark has helped change practice across higher and further education.

More than half of universities across all four nations and an increasing number of further education colleges have been awarded the Quality Mark since 2006, demonstrating their commitment to raising the aspirations of students from care and to supporting them in achieving in their studies. A vast pool of best practice now exists within higher and further education institutions and collaborative networks have been set up by practitioners to work together across sectors, and to support and learn from each other. You can find information on regional and national networks here.

We therefore feel very strongly that the emphasis going forward needs to be on embedding of practice into mainstream provision across the sector, without a Quality Mark as a driver, but with the right policies to bring about change and ensure the very best support is in place for this cohort of students wherever they wish to study.

For the past 12 months we have consulted widely with experts from the higher and further education sector, through our Quality Mark Advisory Group, with colleagues in government departments, sector bodies and relevant voluntary organisations. All stakeholders recognise that more needs to be done. Many have endorsed a strong Statement of Commitment to Looked After Children and Care Leavers recognising the importance of incorporating this group in their work.

We will be collaborating with our stakeholders over the next year, sharing our expertise and experience gained from our Quality Mark. And in 2-3 years time we will commission a piece of research to evaluate how the support for students from care has progressed beyond the Quality Mark.

I would like to thank you personally for your commitment to the Buttle UK Quality Mark and your engagement and support in bringing about positive change for looked after children and care leavers. Much has been achieved. I hope you will continue to work with Buttle UK over the next 18 months towards sustainable, long-term, embedded support for this highly disadvantaged cohort of students.

Gerri McAndrew, Chief Executive

14 April 2014

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