close open in new window Extended services QM Cycle
The QM Cycle

How to apply

Who can apply?

The Quality Mark is available to all registered1 providers of extended services and activities for children and young people. These may include schools, children’s centres, Ofsted-registered play schemes or crèches; study support centres, ‘Playing/Performing For Success’ centres and youth services in the maintained, private, voluntary or independent sectors in England.

Separate guidance for gaining the Quality Mark is also available for specific use by primary, secondary and special schools and for registered providers of early years provision from birth to 5 in the maintained, independent, private or voluntary sectors. A school or children’s centre may hold more than one category of Quality Mark award if it chooses to be assessed against the different criteria.

Each Quality Mark is awarded for three years. At the end of that period the award can be renewed for a further three years (and subsequently every three years), providing the provider still meets the relevant criteria for all ten elements and provides evidence that holding a Quality Mark has had a positive impact on its provision and practice.

Who undertakes the assessment?

In England a provider of extended activities and services, whether maintained or independent, must be assessed by an assessor who has been trained by the national Quality Mark organisation and who is listed on the National Register of Accredited Quality Mark Assessors. The recommendation for a Quality Mark award can only be made by an accredited assessor with a current registration.

Where a qualified assessor is not available through the local authority, the provider can request assessment from the national Quality Mark organisation. This assessment service will incur a charge.

Quality Mark contacts can be found by searching under the name of the relevant local authority on www.qmdatabase.org . To request an assessor from the national organisation, e-mail (This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it)

Download the Extended Services self-audit template.

What has to be demonstrated?

A provider of extended activities and services has to show that, at the time of its assessment:
  • it meets the appropriate criteria for its context for all ten Quality Mark elements
  • there is a commitment to contribute to improving the skills and abilities of children and young people in communication, literacy and mathematical learning, either directly or indirectly, as part of its provision
  • there is evidence of a positive impact on the learning and development of children and young people.
Each provider controls the timescale for making its submission. The length of time taken to achieve accreditation will vary according to a provider’s starting point and its capacity to make, and demonstrate, progress. While providers may spend varying amounts of time working towards accreditation, a Quality Mark cannot be gained merely through making a commitment to meet all the elements in the future. Any improvement has to have taken place because a provider has had impact or added value over time.

Evidence to demonstrate that a provider is meeting the appropriate criteria for each element should come from a wide range of sources. Examples of potential sources are suggested in the ‘Will meet’ sections of the Quality Mark Extended Services guidance booklet. Much of what will be needed may already be available, as it may have been gathered for other purposes. Providers should apply commonsense judgements in choosing which types of evidence will best suit their own context and the nature of the activities or services that they offer.

Evidence can be presented in any format that makes it easy for the assessor to identify planning, provision and evidence of impact. A file or portfolio may be assembled, or relevant sections in existing documentation highlighted. The same piece of core evidence will very often support several different elements and can be cross-referenced.

It is important to emphasise that assessment should never be based solely on a review of documents. An assessor will also seek evidence through discussion with key stakeholders, such as practitioners, parents, representatives of the relevant responsible body and, where appropriate, by talking to children or young people themselves. Evidence should also be gathered through observing activity sessions or taking a ‘learning walk’ around the centre, or by reviewing examples of practice presented through photographs, DVDs or CDs.

How is achievement of a Quality Mark recognised?

The Quality Mark is a registered logo that can only be used by currently accredited award holders. Individual providers are entitled to display this logo, which is supplied electronically, on information and publicity materials. Award-holders also receive a Quality Mark plaque (where stocks are available), which can be wall-mounted, and an award certificate.


1 Acceptable registration will include an entry on the statutory or voluntary Ofsted inspection register; holding an accreditation from a recognised national organisation or body; being affiliated to a recognised national organisation or body.