NCFE CACHE Level 3 Child Care and Education suite (Legacy)

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This QIP covers vocational qualifications which are not listed on the Department for Education (DfE) 16 – 19 performance tables for England.

These qualifications are not listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables because they are not designed to meet the requirements of the Key Stage 5 performance tables.

In 2015 CACHE became part of NCFE.

  • England
  • Wales
  • Northern Ireland

Vocational qualifications are either work-related qualifications designed to enable students to gain the skills required to perform a particular job, or qualifications that may be taken as part of a wider study programme or an apprenticeship.

Schools and colleges may offer qualifications that are not included in the DfE performance tables, if approved for teaching to 16-19 year olds by the Secretary of State for Education in England under Section 96, where this is in the best interests of individual students.

These qualifications have been designed to provide the knowledge and understanding that support competent practice. They will help holders develop many of the practical skills and competencies set out in the National Occupational Standards in Children’s Care, Learning and Development at Level 3.

Education context

These qualifications are designed for post-16 students and fall under the oversight of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). A significant number of students will undertake these qualifications post-19.

Following its 2012 review of post-19 qualifications the ESFA removed 1,800 qualifications from public funding and a further 1,000 in 2014. In March 2014 the government published a Reform Plan for Vocational Education.

These qualifications have not been subject to the same reforms as Applied General and Tech Level qualifications (which are specifically designed for 16-19 year old students), however the ESFA has implemented a new set of business rules for the approval of qualifications for funding, based on the 2013 Review of Adult Vocational Qualifications in England. These rules recognise that adults may have different needs, aspirations and ambitions to younger people and include that qualifications should be:

  • relevant to individuals and employers and affordable for all sizes of business and for individuals
  • rigorous and based on a robust future-looking occupational standard designed and assessed by the sector
  • recognised as worthy of investment, giving a clear signal of the economically valuable skills, knowledge and understanding required in an occupation now and in the future.

Regulation of vocational qualifications

The regulation of vocational qualifications is the responsibility of the respective regulators in each UK country – Ofqual (England), CCEA Regulation (Northern Ireland) SQA (Scotland) and Qualifications Wales (Wales). The regulatory approach undertaken for vocational qualifications is different from A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification criteria for vocational qualifications, as there currently are for GCSEs, AS and A levels. Vocational qualifications must comply with the regulator’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualifications.

In 2015 CACHE became part of NCFE. CACHE-branded qualifications are specialist qualifications in the childcare, health and social care and education sectors.

The qualifications cover many of the National Occupation Standards for Children’s Care, Learning and Development.

Awarding organisation
  • NCFE
Qualification codes
500/1900/4 (NCFE CACHE Level 3 Award in Child Care and Education)
500/1902/8 (NCFE CACHE Level 3 Certificate in Child Care and Education)
500/1901/6 (NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Child Care and Education)

It is expected that most people will progress through the Award and Certificate to complete the Diploma to be able to practise as an early years practitioner.

  • Award: Units 1 and 2; 120 Guided Learning Hours (GLH)
  • Certificate: Units 1 – 5; plus a short answer test; 360 GLH
  • Diploma:  Units 1 – 9, plus three optional units chosen by the centre from Units 10 – 21; plus short answer paper and research task; 1,009 GLH plus 750 recommended practical training hours in Unit 9.
Subject areas

Mandatory units:

  • An introduction to working with children
  • Development from conception to age 16 years
  • Supporting children
  • Keeping children safe
  • The principles underpinning the role of the practitioner working with children
  • Promoting a healthy environment for children
  • Play and learning in children’s education
  • Caring for children
  • Development of professional skills within children’s education

 The Diploma has an optional unit which covers:

  • research into child care, education and development
  • care of sick children
  • nutrition and healthy food for children
  • child, family and outside world
  • working with children with special needs
  • developing children’s (3 – 8 years) mathematical skills
  • developing children’s (3 – 8 years) communication, language and literacy skills
  • international approaches towards children’s education
  • working with babies from birth to 12 months
  • multi-agency working with children
  • children, parent and family needs
  • supporting children with English as an additional language
  • Level 3

These are Level 3 qualifications regulated to the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).¹

Level 3 is broadly aligned to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 6 / 7.

¹ The QCF was a credit-based transfer system which recognised qualifications and units by awarding credits. It has now been withdrawn for all new qualifications and replaced by the RQF and the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales.


All three qualifications are graded A – E.


These qualifications are assessed through:

  • placement summary
  • practice evidence records
  • practice evidence record diary
  • professional development profiles.
Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Students must achieve grade E, or above, in the short answer test to pass the Level 3 Certificate.

Students must achieve the research task at grade E, or above, to pass the Level 3 Diploma.

Resit arrangements

Short answer task – Results that do not achieve a grade E will be graded as a referral. A centre may re-enter a student to take the test again.

Research task – Results that do not achieve a grade E will be graded as a referral. A centre may re-enter a student to submit a research task again.

Guided/notional learning hours
NCFE CACHE Level 3 Award in Child Care and Education: 120 hours
NCFE CACHE Level 3 Certificate in Child Care and Education: 360 hours
NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Child Care and Education: 1009 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

The qualifications have a range of 120 – 1,759 Guided Learning Hours depending on the final qualification and optional units chosen.

UCAS Tariff points

NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Child Care and Education

Grade Points
A 144
B 120
C 96
D 72
E 48

NCFE CACHE Level 3 Certificate in Child Care and Education

Grade Points
A 48
B 40
C 32
D 24
E 16

Unknown qualification

Grade Points


Key issues for UK HE admissions

There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing vocational qualifications that are not listed on the DfE 16 – 19 performance tables for England:

  • Some of these qualifications are occupational, and may not be designed specifically for progression to HE.
  • Applicants holding these qualifications may be school or college leavers, however some may be more mature students who are likely to have other relevant experience alongside these qualifications.
  • These qualifications may have been taken as part of a wider study programme or an apprenticeship.
  • If they are presented for admission to HE it is likely to be in conjunction with other qualifications.

The first cohort of students completed the NCFE CACHE Level 3 Award, Certificate and Diploma in Childcare and Education in August/September 2009.

Holders of the qualifications have been applying for entry to higher education since September 2009 onwards.

Holders of the Award and Certificate should be expected to present the qualification in conjunction with other qualifications. The Diploma may meet HE entry requirements in is own right.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Most students start their studies in September and complete towards the end of the following academic year.

There is the flexibility to allow some to progress quicker than others.

Results are confirmed, and certificates issued, upon completion.

Qualification dates notes

These are legacy qualifications.

Reporting and certification information

The results of these qualifications are reported to UCAS through Awarding Body Linkage (ABL).

View the results available through ABL.

Results are made available to CACHE centres throughout the year.

Data is provided for DfE, Ofqual, Skills for Care and Development and Skills Active.

Progression information

Holders may progress on to higher level qualifications. These may include professional development qualifications or higher education qualifications, for example, nursing or teaching.

This will be subject to the individual requirements of the university or higher education college.

Further information

The specifications are not publicly available for expired qualifications, however, they can be requested from NCFE CACHE: