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Oldham College gets national recognition for supporting 'care experienced' students

Oldham College has become one of the first institutions to be awarded a new Quality Mark, recognising its support for students who have spent some or all of their lives in care.

The National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL) charity has established this new benchmark to champion continuous improvement across local and national multi-agency partnerships in their practice and collaboration.

It seeks to improve outcomes for ‘care experienced’ children or young people who are – or have previously been – in care or from a looked-after background at any stage in their life.

In partnership with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), Oldham College and other GM educators collaborated with the NNECL to shape this new national Quality Mark initiative prior to its launch and roll out.

The award covers seven areas including: culture and leadership; continuous improvement; pre-entry activity; admissions; student wellbeing; student success; and collaborative and partnership working. Each area has a set of criteria for which participating institutions must provide evidence for assessment.

Oldham College received a ranking of ‘enhanced’ in six areas and ‘exceptional’ in partnership working.

Alan Benvie, Assistant Principal at Oldham College, said: “Oldham College and University Campus Oldham are delighted to have achieved the NNECL Quality Mark.”

“This process has given us real focus and a professional framework to drive what we were already doing well even further forward – and to identify what services we can improve for care experienced learners. We see this accreditation as just the beginning and it’s now our ambition to be ranked ‘exceptional’ in all categories within the year. 

“We want Oldham College to be the ‘Best Place to Learn’ for everyone, so that’s why we want all care experienced learners to know that they will be welcomed and supported here: whatever their age, background or career aspirations.”

The first national Quality Marks were awarded at an online launch event to universities and colleges who successfully completed the process during the pilot and trial phases. This included a guest speech from Oldham College’s Alan Benvie plus a keynote speech from Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Patricia Ambrose, NNECL Director, added: “Our new Quality Mark enables universities and colleges to demonstrate the effectiveness of their support for care experienced students from pre-application through to graduation and beyond.

“Building on the excellent legacy of previous work by Buttle UK, the NNECL Quality Mark covers all aspects of the student lifecycle and has been informed by recent research findings and feedback from care experienced students on the types of support they value.”

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