NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Education and Care (Early Years Educator) Tech levels (interim reformed)

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The QIP covers all NCFE CACHE Tech level (interim-reformed) qualifications that do not meet the full requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE) and do not contribute towards performance measures for 2018.

  • England

The Department for Education (DfE) describe Tech level qualifications as follows:

Tech levels are rigorous advanced (level 3) technical qualifications on a par with A Levels and recognised by employers. They are for students aged 16 plus who want to specialise in a specific industry or prepare for a particular job. They cover jobs and careers where employers recruit people at this level or where a level 3 qualification is needed before students can progress to a related higher education course. Tech levels give students an opportunity to develop specialist knowledge and skills to help them get an apprenticeship or job, for example in engineering, IT, accounting or professional cookery, or progress to a higher level qualification. In some cases, a tech level qualification is a ‘licence to practise’ or can exempt someone holding the qualification from a professional exam. Tech levels are recognised by trade or professional bodies or at least five employers. Alternatively, the qualification may be accepted by a national licensed professional registration scheme.

This qualification prepares learners to become Early Years Educators, enabling them to work with and care for children from birth to 5 years, and gain knowledge of children aged 5 to 7 years.

The aim of this qualification is to confirm the learner’s competence to work in a Level 3 work role. It requires them to demonstrate the full application of skills, knowledge, and understanding. This qualification will guide and assess the development of knowledge and skills relating to early years.

Education context

Some vocational qualifications offered at Level 3 have been reformed as a result of changes to school performance tables. Vocational qualifications must meet the criteria set by the Department for Education (DfE) in order to count towards school performance tables. These reforms mean that 91% of the Level 3 qualifications that previously counted towards school performance tables were removed from performance tables in 2016.

For accountability purposes, vocational qualifications are now be classified as:

  • Tech level qualifications: The purpose of these qualifications is to lead to a ‘recognised occupation’. Examples provided by the DfE include engineering, accounting, construction, manufacturing, agriculture and IT. These qualifications must meet a number of criteria, including the endorsement of five employers registered at Companies House.
  • Applied General qualifications: The purpose of these qualifications is to provide a broader vocational education. They ‘are designed for students wanting to continue their education through applied learning.’ These qualifications must meet a number of criteria, including endorsement by at least three universities and colleges.

The reform to vocational qualifications is being conducted in two stages: an interim stage and full stage. Each of these stages introduced new criteria for vocational qualifications to meet in order to count towards school performance tables.

The first teaching of the qualifications reformed on an interim basis was from 2014 and these counted towards school performance tables in 2016. Only qualifications that meet the full criteria count towards performance tables from 2018. The qualifications listed in this QIP are classified as Tech level qualifications however do not meet the full criteria to count towards performance tables from 2018 in respect of content, assessment and grading. Schools and colleges may offer qualifications that are not included in the performance tables, if the qualifications are approved for teaching by the Secretary of State under Section 96.

Read Section 96.

The 2016 NCFE CACHE Tech levels meet the interim requirements set by the DfE and therefore may be offered in schools and colleges alongside the 2018 fully reformed versions:


Interim Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2016 performance tables)

Full Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2018 performance tables)

A. Declared Purpose



B. Size



C. Recognition



D. Synoptic Assessment



E. External Assessment



F. Grading



G. Employer involvement (Technical Level Qualifications only)



H. Progression



I. Proven Track Record




As noted in the table above, the 2016 and 2018 versions of Tech level qualifications are fundamentally different.

For more information on the specific changes to 2018 Tech levels, please refer to a reformed QIP. Please also see ‘Key issues for UK HE admissions’ for some additional considerations when assessing these qualifications.

Further information about Tech level qualifications, and the range of qualifications that meet the 2018 requirements, can be found on the DfE website.

Regulation of Tech level and Applied General qualifications

The regulation of Tech level and Applied General qualifications delivered in England is the responsibility of Ofqual.

The regulatory approach undertaken for Tech level and Applied General qualifications differs to A levels. This is because there are no specific qualification-level criteria for Tech levels, as there are for GCSEs, AS and A levels currently.  Applied Generals is a category introduced by the Department for Education for accountability purposes rather than a specific type of regulated qualification.  To be included in the Tech level category, qualifications have to demonstrate particular features outlined in the table above.

Tech levels must comply with Ofqual’s general rules, as is the case with all regulated qualifications.

Early Years Educator (EYE) qualifications were introduced in September 2014.

They meet the National College of Teaching and Leadership’s approved design criteria.

From September 2014, approved EYE qualifications became the only Licence to Practise qualifications for people wishing to work with children from birth to five years.

CACHE-branded qualifications are specialist qualifications in the childcare, health and social care, and education sectors.

In 2015 CACHE became part of NCFE.

Awarding organisation
  • NCFE
Qualification code

To pass this qualification the learner needs to:

  • pass 27 mandatory units
  • pass a longitudinal study
  • pass three externally set and marked assessments
Subject areas

Mandatory units:

  • Support healthy lifestyles for children through the provision of food and nutrition
  • Support healthy lifestyles for children through exercise
  • Support physical care routines for children
  • Promote children’s emotional well-being
  • Understand how to support children who are unwell
  • Understand the needs of the mother and baby during pre-conception, pregnancy and the first year of life
  • An introduction to the role of the early years practitioner
  • Understand legislation relating to the safeguarding, protection and welfare of children
  • Use legislation relating to the health and safety of children
  • Use legislation relating to equality, diversity and inclusive practice
  • Work in partnership
  • Understand the value of play in early years
  • Plan, lead and review play activities which support children’s learning and development in relation to current frameworks
  • Apply theoretical perspectives and philosophical approaches to play
  • Contribute to enabling play environments knowledge
  • Develop emergent literacy skills of children
  • Develop emergent mathematical skills of children
  • Understand the needs of the child in preparing for school
  • Understand how to plan to meet the needs of the developing child
  • Facilitate the cognitive development of children
  • Develop the speech, language and communication of children
  • Promote the physical development of children
  • Promote the personal, social and emotional development of children
  • Support children with additional needs
  • Use observation, assessment and planning to promote the development of children
  • Use longitudinal studies to observe, assess and plan for children’s needs
  • Engage in professional development
  • Level 3

This is a Level 3 qualification 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.


¹The 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. The RQF is the new system for cataloguing all qualifications regulated by Ofqual, indexing them by level and size.


A* – C


To gain this qualification the learner will need to achieve the following:

  • Pass in all units. All units in this qualification are mandatory. Units will be internally assessed. NCFE CACHE have created innovative non-mandatory tasks for all units, with the exception of Unit 3.15 (see Longitudinal Study below), which is mandatory.
  • Longitudinal Study (Unit 3.15). This will be a mandatory task set by NCFE CACHE. It will be internally assessed.
  • Assessment 1. Short Answer paper based on Themes 1: Health and well-being and Theme 2: Legislation, frameworks and professional practice.
  • Assessment 2. Reflective Study based on Theme 3: Play, development and learning for school readiness
  • Assessment 3. Extended Essay based on Theme 3: Play, development and learning for school readiness

Assessments 1, 2 and 3 will be externally set and externally marked.

Competence in a real work environment.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Full achievement of the qualification is not possible until all components are passed.

Unit certification will be available.

Resit arrangements

Within each qualification there is a maximum of one further opportunity after the first submission for learners to submit the External Assessment to achieve a pass grade or to improve a grade.

Guided/notional learning hours
643 hours
UCAS Tariff points

NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Education and Care (Early Years Educator)

Grade Points
A* 112
A 96
B 80
C 64
D 48
Key issues for UK HE admissions

Tech level qualifications are advanced (Level 3) qualifications, mainly taken by 16-19 year old students who want to develop transferable knowledge and skills.

There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Tech level qualifications that do not meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:

  • Applicants holding interim-reformed Tech level qualifications may not have had experience of external or synoptic assessment.
  • The reformed and interim-reformed qualifications will be delivered by schools and colleges at the same time (see ‘Education context’). Therefore, HEPs may wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications.
  • The dual running of the qualification may result in applicants declaring the incorrect version within their application. UCAS will be working to support applicants and advisers in this area.
  • These qualifications are fundamentally different to the reformed versions and likely to result in learners developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains up to date. HEPs may also wish to consider their approach to setting and listing entry requirements for the specific qualifications, and any differences should be clearly articulated.

Tech Levels are designed to support progression to employment, an apprenticeship, or to higher education.

Progression to higher education is generally within the vocational area of the Tech Level, and may be to a foundation degree.

The exact curriculum studied may depend on the choice of optional units taken.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

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

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

Results are confirmed, and certificates issued, upon completion.

Qualification dates notes

This qualification is current.

Reporting and certification information

The results of NCFE CACHE  Early Years Education and Care (Early Years Educator) 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, BIS, Ofqual, Skills for Care and Development and Skills Active.

Progression information

Tech level qualifications differ in size; some may meet the entry requirements for higher education in their own right in a related area and some may need to be offered in conjunction with other Level 3 qualifications, for instance A levels. In addition, some higher education courses may require specific levels of achievement in particular units or ask for additional qualifications to satisfy subject knowledge requirements.

These qualifications offer progression to higher education, an apprenticeship, or employment.

Progression to HE will probably be in the vocational area of the qualification, and may be to a foundation degree or a Higher National qualification (HNC/HND).

Tech level qualifications are supported by at least five employers from the job sector the qualification is related to. All students have to take part in meaningful activity involving employers in the course of their study. Examples are work placements, taking part in projects, or some of the course being taught by someone who works in the industry.

Upon achievement of this qualification, learners will gain their licence to practise, and it is intended that they will be able to enter the workforce as Early Years Educators, or progress to higher education.

Learners can progress into various job roles in the statutory, voluntary or private sectors such as:

  • practitioner in day nurseries
  • practitioner in nursery schools
  • practitioner in reception classes in primary schools
  • pre-school worker
  • home-based child carer