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Quality Mark Jargon Buster
Quality Mark Jargon Buster


The aim of this piece of Jargon Buster is to produce a simple guide which is intended to demystify the language of the Youth Work Quality Mark for colleagues in both the voluntary and statutory sectors in Wales. Many of the people who support young people in the sector are part time or volunteers and they are not overly familiar with the language used within the sector. This is an additional barrier to their participation and involvement in the Quality Mark to demonstrate the very good work they are doing with young people.

Meeting with the sector

In preparing this guide, various organisations were interviewed and asked a series of questions. These interviews took place either over the phone or virtually. A wide range of voluntary clubs and local authority colleagues were interviewed, these included small one day a week youth clubs to larger youth work projects with a small staff team.

Explaining the Quality Mark

Some Youth Workers and voluntary youth groups are still unaware or only partly aware of the Quality Mark for Youth Work in Wales. An element of the interviews included letting the volunteers know more about the Quality Mark and the work of the Education Workforce Council (EWC).

Participants were made aware that the Youth Work Quality Mark is made up of 3 levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold, each has 4 standards, with 3 indicators. To achieve the standard each indicator has measurable criteria.

The measurable criteria are called Grade descriptors.

  • Good practice,
  • some development needed and
  • Considerable development is needed.

The Grade Descriptors has been developed to help organistions understand how well they are doing against each of the indicators and what could be needed to help them move forward.

The Quality Mark for Youth Work in Wales will be referred to as ‘the Quality Mark’ in this document.

Introduction to the Quality Mark

The Bronze Level

The Quality Mark, is an opportunity for organisations to celebrate their work with young people by submitting a self-assessment document and meeting with other youth workers (assessors) from organisations in Wales to see if the organisation meets the criteria to gained one of the three levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold.

The first level of Quality Mark award is the Bronze Award. This award focuses on the first steps and looks at what your organisation does, how it is structured, how it is managed by the trustees and how it does “good youth work”.

Applications for the Bronze Level are encouraged from all youth work organisations in Wales. Organisations must show that they have appropriate leadership and governance, they have processes in place to monitor and evaluate their programmes, and they ensure that young people, staff and volunteers are safe and that they adhere to legal requirements.

The Youth Work Strategy for Wales (2019) sets out a vision for the future where:
“all young people are thriving, with access to opportunities and experiences, in Welsh and English, which provide enjoyment and enrich their personal development through youth work approaches”.

The Bronze Level involves four areas:

  1. Performance management,
  2. Quality of youth work,
  3. Young people’s learning and development, and
  4. Legal requirements.

Bronze: Young people are safe and able to thrive

The Bronze Level is the first step on the Quality Mark journey and to achieve this level organisations need to meet the criteria below.

The table below shows the standards and indicators but also explains what this means.

Quality Standard Indicators What this means
1.1 Performance management The organisation has a clearly stated mission or vision and has a strategy and/or plan(s) for its work with young people. That your organisation can show what you do, how it is delivered, when it is delivered and where. That your organisation has a constitution (or other governing document) saying what you do and how you do it. You can show the assessors what you want to achieve for young people, and how you will get there?
  There is a plan which demonstrates how the organisation measures the impact and effectiveness of its work with young people Your organisation members, including young people, understand and have contributed to your organisation’s vision, plans and priorities, including how you will check you are meeting those priorities.
  The organisation regularly uses a systematic approach for monitoring, reviewing and revising its organisational plan(s) and targets and/or performance indicators. Your organisation regularly monitors and changes plans when required. Your Organisation should demonstrate that you keep records of projects and show how young people develop through their involvement with your organisation.
Your organisation listens to the young people’s feedback and changes its delivery or provision accordingly.
  The organisation can link its work with key local and national policies, and or strategies and priorities for young people. Your organisation can show that you are aware of the needs of young people and the community and that you are aware of local and national policies for youth work and your organisation takes this into account.
1.2 Quality of youth work practice The organisation’s workforce understands the needs of local areas and the needs of the young people with whom they work.

The people who work with young people in your organisation understand how their role supports what young people want and need as well as those of the local community.

Youth work activities address and meet young people’s needs, e.g. This might include through sports or arts including the use of digital media platforms and blended learning opportunities - if relevant to your organisation.

Your organisation helps young people find (through signposting) support services and sources of information advice and guidance that they may require.

The organisation understands the issues young people face and listens to their concerns.

  The organisation’s workforce engages young people in planning and evaluating activities.

Your organisation involves young people in deciding what your organisation does, it also involves young people in evaluating your work to see if it was successful.

Young people are able to give Youth Workers and volunteer’s feedback on activities.

Young people are encouraged to take an active role in organising and running activities.

Your organisation can demonstrate that young people take part in informal and non-formal learning opportunities.

  The organisation’s workforce engages young people in informal and non-formal learning opportunities that are educative, empowering, participative, inclusive and expressive, which extend their knowledge, skills and understanding

Your organisation has a good understanding of the Principles and Purposes of Youth Work in Wales document and that you use this as the basis of your work providing learning opportunities.


Your organisation helps young people reflect on how they have changed through involvement in your activities and projects

  The organisation’s workforce develops positive relationships with young people to effectively support and promote young people’s learning and achievement Your organisation has positive and trusted relationships with young people.

The people who deliver work with young people use many ways to develop trust and offer enjoyable and challenging activities and learning programmes.

Your organisation listens to young people to develop ground rules and codes of conduct.
1.3 Young people’s learning and development Following engagement in the organisation’s youth work provision, young people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding of themselves and their learning

Following involvement in your organisation’s activities you can show that young people have learned new skills and progressed personally and/or socially. You may also be able to show that some young people have been able to progress into education, employment or training.

Young people are able to reflect on what they have achieved and describe what they have learned, and what benefit they have gained.

Your organisation is able to record these outcomes listed above and you can celebrate young people's learning achievements

  Following engagement in the organisation’s youth work provision, young people develop personal, social and emotional skills.

Youth Work organisations are great at helping young people develop their personal, social and emotional skills. This section asks you to give examples of this. e.g.
Following engagement in your provision young people will have developed personal, social and emotional skills. You will be able to show that young people:

  • communicate well
  • work well in groups and teams
  • are sensitive and respectful in their relationships.

As an organisation you may be able to use case studies to show that young people have developed initiative and accept responsibility for their choices and actions.

  The organisation enables young people to help shape the organisation’s vision and aims, and is involved in the design, planning and evaluation of provision to meet their needs. Your organisation involves young people in setting targets and things they want to achieve as individuals and in groups through being involved in your provision.

The young people at your centre or project are engaged with planning, organising and leading programmes and activities, with support from youth workers.

Your organisation involves young people in considering their development and learning through the projects and activities.
1.4 Legal requirements The organisation has relevant policies, procedures and guidance, and can meet its legal requirements and safe practice.

Your organisation has policies to ensure that young people and volunteers are kept safe.

e.g. Health and Safety policies and procedures
Safeguarding and child protection policies and processes.

  The organisation has effective policies and procedures for the safeguarding and health and safety of young people, staff and volunteers. The organisation has effective policies and procedures for the safeguarding and health and safety of young people, staff and volunteers. Your organisation had met the Legal requirements for keeping young people, staff and volunteers safe.
e.g. Volunteer policy and procedures, Lone working policy, risk assessments, induction process.
  The organisation’s workforce understands and is trained and equipped to implement policies, procedures and guidance for safeguarding, health and safety, and other legal requirements.

The people working with young people have access to policies, procedures and guidance can understand them and put them into practice.

Young people are aware of how to make a safeguarding disclosure and report bullying or any other issues.

Your organisation makes everyone aware of the policies and procedures and any changes when they are updated.

  The organisation regularly monitors and reviews its policies, procedures and guidance, and uses the results of these processes for improvement and change.

Your organisation regularly reviews and updates the policy and procedures.

The people working with young people are involved in this process.

 To help organisations submit their self-assessment there are three grade descriptors to make it easier to understand what is good practice, where further work is needed and where a lot of work is needed. Within the main document these are described as:

  • Good practice,
  • some development needed and
  • Considerable development is needed

To achieve the Youth Work Quality Mark there are 5 stages.

How to get started steps 1-3.

To achieve the Bronze Level Quality Mark an organisation must do the following:

  1. Contact the Education Workforce Council to register your interest.
  2. Register for online Quality Mark Awareness or how to conduct self-assessment training and or get some mentoring support if you feel this will help you, more information about what is available is below.
  3. Complete a self-assessment which includes evidence of all the good things you are doing (this is a written report to show how you feel you meet the Quality Standard)

    What happens next, steps 4-5?

  4. EWC will check the report and once you are ready will arrange an assessment team to conduct a Quality Mark visit.
  5. They will arrange for your group or organisation to participate in a meeting (or series of meetings) with other youth workers from organisations in Wales as part of a structured meeting to see if the organisation has demonstrated that a ‘good practice’ grade has been achieved for each indicator within this level.

Once you have completed the 5 stages a report is written to recommend to Welsh Government that they should award the Quality Mark. Your Quality Mark status remains valid for three years after which it must be renewed.

Support, information and advice is readily available at all of these stages, even if you just want to know a bit more about the Quality Mark before taking the first step.

Support Available From the Education Workforce Council

The Education Workforce Council encourage applications from youth work organisations in Wales and are supportive of new organisations applying. In order to help organisations apply and learn more about the Quality Mark there is a range of training available this includes:

  1. Training on how to complete the self-assessment report and/or a Mentor to support organisations.
  2. Opportunities to undertake an E-learning Module which can be used to familiarise staff and volunteers with the Quality Mark
  3. Peer support from previous applicants, who are able to give handy hint and tips plus support and advice.
  4. Meetings with Assessors so that a working and supportive relationship can be established
  5. Providing feedback on the Self-Assessment document and giving advice on content and structure.

Further Development

Although this document aims to help people navigate the Bronze Level, once this is completed there is an opportunity for organisations to complete the Silver and Gold Levels should they wish and should they feel this is the right thing to do for their organisation. Meeting the Bronze Level is a great achievement in itself and organisations should be proud of meeting this quality standard.

Silver Level: Youth work is inclusive, accessible and offered by trained staff.

The Silver Level involves four areas:

  1. Involving young people,
  2. Curriculum,
  3. Equality and Diversity, and
  4. Workforce Development.

Gold Level: Managing resources to meet the needs of young people.

The Gold Level involves four areas:

  1. Recognising and Celebrating Achievement,
  2. Management Information,
  3. Partnerships, and
  4. Resources.

Glossary of Terms

Term Meaning
Quality Standards Meeting the set criteria of what is expected of a youth work organisation. There are four Quality Standards per level.
Quality Mark An award of recognition for achieving a set standard.
Indicators This is the measurement that needs to be reached or maintained.
Grade Descriptors This describes how well an organisation is doing based on the criteria that have been met; these are broken down into: good practice, some development needed, considerable development needed.
Self-Assessment This is where organisations can review where they are at and what they currently have in place prior to assessment. They can identify strengths and weaknesses and celebrate what is going well and how good the youth work provision is. They can also show what young people’s views on the organisation are.
Impact This is the difference this makes to the lives of young people as a result of the youth work programmes.
Evidence The documentation to back up what you say you are doing. This could include, policies, reports, posters etc
Informal learning Learning resulting from daily activities related to work, family or leisure. It is not organised. Informal learning is in most cases unintentional from the learner's perspective. e.g learning from an experience picking up a skill after sports coaching
Non formal learning Non-formal education refers to education that occurs outside the formal school system e.g. attending a Scouts group or during an activity at youth club
Performance Management A planned and regular approach to helping an organisation to achieve its aims and objectives by monitoring and improving the performance of individuals, and the organisation as a whole
Governance Governance is the term for the way a group of people such as a group of trustees or a board of governors or council do things. Many groups create a committee to decide how things are to be done. ... Governance is also how decision making affects people in that organisation.