NCFE CACHE Tech levels (reformed)

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The QIP covers all NCFE CACHE Tech level qualifications that meet the full requirements set by the Department for Education (DfE) and contribute towards performance measures from 2018.
Country
  • England
Purpose

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.

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. 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 characteristics that must be met by Tech level qualifications as detailed in the DfE criteria are as follows:

 

Interim Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2016 performance tables)

Full Requirement (for qualifications counting in 2018 performance tables)

A. Declared Purpose

X

X

B. Size

X

X

C. Recognition

X

X

D. Synoptic Assessment

 

X

E. External Assessment

 

X

F. Grading

 

X

G. Employer involvement (Technical Level Qualifications only)

 

X

H. Progression

 

X

I. Proven Track Record

 

X

 

These changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Size: Tech level qualifications must require at least 300 guided learning hours (GLH). Applied General qualifications must require at least 150 GLH.
  • Appropriate content: A qualification specification must state the specific content that students must pass to achieve the qualification. Mandatory content and the associated contribution to the overall grade must make up at least:
    • 40% of a Tech level
    • 60% of an Applied General
  • Appropriate assessment: Tech levels must have at least 30% external assessment. Applied General must have 40% external assessment. Students will also be given one opportunity to resit.
  • Synoptic assessment.
  • Grading: All vocational qualifications must be graded using three grading points or more, such as Distinction/Merit/Pass.
  • Employer involvement: Tech levels must be recognised and endorsed by a trade/professional body or at least 5 employers registered with Companies House.

Tech levels and Applied Generals, whilst both being vocational qualifications, differ in size and purpose. NCFE CACHE Tech levels range from 455 to 1189 GLH, are aimed at students with an interest in a particular industry or occupation, and help provide entry into employment, onto an apprenticeship, or into higher education in a related vocational area. Applied Generals are for students who want to continue their education through applied learning, include a higher proportion of external assessment and may help students enter to a range of higher education courses.

HEPs should take care when reviewing vocational qualifications for entry, see ‘Key issues for UK HE admissions’.

Further information about Tech level qualifications, and the range of qualifications that meet these 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.  Tech level 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.


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

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.

The NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Education & Care (Early Years Educator) enables students to enter the workforce as Early Years Educators, or, access higher education

The NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate in Childcare and Education prepares students to progress on to the NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education (Early Years Educator). The NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education (Early Years Educator) enables students to enter the workforce as Early Years Educators, or access higher education. They provide students with knowledge of children from birth to seven years.

The NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate and Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care have been designed to enable students to access higher education, or assist with progression into the workplace.

Awarding organisation
  • NCFE
Qualification codes
601/8438/3 (NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Education and Care [Early Years Educator])
601/8436/X (NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate in Childcare and Education)
601/8437/1 (NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education [Early Years Educator])
601/8434/6 (NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate in Health and Social Care)
601/8435/8 (NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care)
Structure

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

To gain this qualification, students must achieve all 27 mandatory units and three separate externally set and marked assessments.

To aid holistic delivery and assessment, we have structured the units around the following four themes:

Theme 1: Health and well-being

Theme 2: Legislation, frameworks, and professional practice

Theme 3: Play, development, and learning for school readiness

Theme 4: Professional development


NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate & Diploma in Childcare and Education (Early Years Educator)

Certificate

To achieve the Technical Level 3 Certificate in Childcare and Education, students must pass seven mandatory units and the extended assessment – CCE1 (externally set and externally marked).

Diploma

To achieve the Technical Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education (Early Years Educator) students must pass 14 mandatory units. Students must also complete the extended assessments CCE1 and DCE2 (externally set, externally marked).​​

There are two early exit points, the first on achievement of the Award, and the second on achievement of the Certificate. Dependent on student ability and centre delivery, the Certificate can be achieved in approximately one year. It enables students to progress on to the Diploma. Each unit throughout the qualification will be graded A* – D, and the overall qualification is graded A* – D.


NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate & Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care

Certificate

To achieve the Technical Level 3 Certificate in Health and Social Care, students must achieve a Pass grade in all internally assessed unit assessments for the nine mandatory units. Students must also achieve a Pass grade for the externally assessed Certificate Assessment (HSC1). Students must complete a minimum of 75 placement hours.

Extended Diploma

To achieve the Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care, students must achieve a Pass grade in the internally assessed unit assessments for:

  • 14 mandatory units
  • three units from Optional Group 1
  • one unit from Optional Group 2

Students must also achieve a Pass grade for the:

  • Certificate External Assessment (HSC1)
  • Extended Diploma External Assessment (HSED2)
  • Short Answer Examination (SAE) (Unit HSC DM 3.1)

Students must complete a minimum of 175 placement hours.

For detailed unit and content information, please view the qualification specification on the CACHE website.

Subject areas
  • Early education and childcare
  • Health and social care
Levels
  • Level 3

Level 3 qualifications are regulated to the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).

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

Grading

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

A* – D

NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate & Diploma in Childcare and Education (Early Years Educator)

Each unit throughout the qualification will be graded A* – D with the qualification overall grading being A* – D.

NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate & Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care

A* – D

Assessment

As noted in Education Context, to be classified as a Tech level qualification the qualification in question must meet certain criteria. This includes:

  • A minimum of 30% external assessment
  • A minimum of 40% mandatory core content
  • An element of synoptic assessment
  • There is a single resit opportunity

The above is the minimum requirements set out by the Department for Education.


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

To gain this qualification, students must achieve the following:

  • Pass in all units. All units in this qualification are mandatory. Units will be internally assessed.
  • Longitudinal Study (Unit 3.15). This is a mandatory task set by us. It is 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 DEYEC1 based on Theme 3: Play, development, and learning for school readiness
  • Assessment 3 DEYEC2 based on Theme 3: Play, development, and learning for school readiness Assessments 1, 2, and 3 are externally set and externally marked.
  • Competence in a real work environment

Full achievement of the qualification will not be possible until all components are complete.


NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate & Diploma in Childcare and Education (Early Years Educator)

To gain the Diploma, students must achieve the following:

  • Seven units will be internally assessed using externally set unit assessments. All units are graded A* – D.
  • An extended assessment - CCE1 (externally set, externally marked), graded A* – D.

Students can be certificated for the Certificate at this point.

  • A further seven units will be internally assessed using externally set unit assessments. All units are graded A* – D.
  • A second extended assessment - DCE2 (externally set, externally marked), graded A* – D.

NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate & Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care

To gain the Extended Diploma, students will need to achieve:

  • Mandatory units graded A* – D - internally assessed
  • External assessment HSC1 synoptic assessment – externally assessed, graded A* – D

Students can be certificated for the Certificate at this point.

  • Diploma mandatory Units graded A* – D - internally assessed 
  • External assessment SAE short answer examination (Unit HSC DM3.1) - externally assessed, graded A* – D
  • External assessment HSED2 synoptic assessment - externally assessed, graded A* – D
  • Optional units graded A* – D - internally assessed

Full achievement of the qualification will not be possible until all components are achieved.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

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

This qualification is graded A* – D. The final grade awarded for the qualification will be based on the overall marks achieved for the short answer examination, DEYEC1 and DEYEC2.

The external assessments contribute 100% towards the qualification grade.


NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate & Diploma in Childcare and Education (Early Years Educator)

Certificate

CCE1 contributes 30% towards the final qualification grade for the Certificate.

Diploma

CCE1 and DCE2 contribute 30.8% towards the final qualification grade for the Diploma.


NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate & Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care

There are three external assessments: a synoptic assessment (HSC1) covering the Certificate mandatory units, a synoptic assessment (HSED2) covering the Diploma mandatory units and a short answer examination (SAE) covering Unit HSC DM3.1.

External assessment contributes:

33% towards the final qualification grade for the Certificate

32% towards the final qualification grade for the Extended Diploma

Resit arrangements

Reformed Tech level qualifications are only allowed one resit opportunity per unit. The resit must be a new task or assignment, different to the original assessment.

Guided/notional learning hours
NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Education and Care (Early Years Educator) : 691 hours
NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate in Childcare and Education: 455 hours
NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education (Early Years Educator): 938 hours
NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate in Health and Social Care: 619 hours
NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care: 1189 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

The Total Qualification Time (TQT) for each of these qualifications is as follows:

  • NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Education and Care (Early Years Educator): 861 hours
  • NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate in Childcare and Education: 569 hours
  • NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education (Early Years Educator): 1,196 hours
  • NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate in Health and Social Care: 734 hours
  • NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care: 1,495 hours

Tech Levels require a minimum size of 300 GLH to provide students with sufficient time for meaningful skills development that will equip them to follow a particular trade or profession. For comparison, the size of one A level is 360 GLH.

UCAS Tariff points

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

Grade Points
A* 112
A 96
B 80
C 64
D 48

NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate in Childcare and Education

Grade Points
A* 84
A 72
B 60
C 48
D 36

NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate in Health and Social Care

Grade Points
A* 84
A 72
B 60
C 48
D 36

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

Grade Points
A* 168
A 144
B 120
C 96
D 72

NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care

Grade Points
A* 168
A 144
B 120
C 96
D 72

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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 specialise in a specific industry, occupation, or occupational group. They equip students with specialist knowledge and skills.

There are a number of key considerations for HEPs when reviewing Tech level qualifications that meet the full DfE criteria from 2018:

  • These qualifications are fundamentally different to their predecessors and Applied General qualifications, and are likely to result in students developing different skills and aptitudes. HEPs should review their understanding of these qualifications to ensure it remains up to date.
  • The reformed qualifications include both external and synoptic assessment, as well as changes to resit processes. These changes are likely to result in fewer students passing the qualification. Equally, it is likely that grade distributions will change. In light of this, HEPs may wish to review their entry requirements, offer making and decision-making strategies in relation to these qualifications.
  • 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.
  • A larger mandatory core means that HEPs who require certain levels of achievement in particular units or ask for specific units to satisfy subject knowledge requirements should familiarise themselves with the new content specifications to ensure that these requirements are still valid. It should be noted that not all students will be able choose their optional units and these may be prescribed by the school or college, therefore HEPs should be cautious if requiring achievement in optional modules as part of their entry requirements, offer making and decision-making strategies.

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

Applicants holding reformed Tech level qualifications will have had experience of external and synoptic assessment.

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.

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 students to progress quicker than others.

Results are confirmed, and certificates issued, upon completion.

Qualification date
Starting from 01 Sep 2016 (601/8438/3 - NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Education and Care [Early Years Educator])
Starting from 01 Sep 2016 (601/8436/X - NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate in Childcare and Education)
Starting from 01 Sep 2016 (601/8437/1 - NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education [Early Years Educator])
Starting from 01 Sep 2016 (601/8434/6 - NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Certificate in Health and Social Care)
Starting from 01 Sep 2016 (601/8435/8 - NCFE CACHE Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care)
Qualification dates notes

These are current qualifications.

Reporting and certification information

The results of some NCFE CACHE 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.

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).

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.

On achievement of the Technical Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Education and Care (Early Years Educator), students 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.

Students 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

The Technical Level 3 Certificate and Diploma in Childcare and Education (Early Years Educator) may enable students to access higher education. Alternatively, students can progress into various job roles in the statutory, voluntary, or private sectors, such as:

  • Early Years Educator (Diploma only)
  • practitioner in day nurseries
  • practitioner in nursery schools
  • practitioner in reception classes in primary schools
  • pre-school worker
  • home-based childcarer
  • nanny

On achievement of the Technical Level 3 Certificate in Health & Social Care, students will be able to progress to the Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care. These qualifications may support access to higher education, progression to further learning at Level 4 and above, and a wide range of job roles in the health and social care sector, such as: 

  • care support workers in adult residential settings
  • healthcare assistants in community, primary care and acute health environments
  • care support workers in domiciliary services, supported living or day services
  • community-based support workers.