What Are CACHE Qualifications and Are They Recognised?

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When it comes to furthering your education and training for specific fields, there are plenty of options and paths for you to go down. However, figuring out which qualifications are right for you can be a different dilemma altogether.

In order to be able to decide, it’s important to know what these different options are. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at a less traditional type of qualification, known as CACHE qualifications.

CACHE qualifications are a type of vocational qualification that you can get in the UK. These qualifications specialise in the care, health and education sector and can be taken in a range of different levels and specific areas within this sector. CACHE qualifications are recognised as they are Ofqual regulated and can provide students with a path to qualify in a field, further their career or go into a more advanced level of education.

Continue reading for more information about what CACHE qualifications are. This article will take you through everything you need to know about CACHE qualifications from which ones you can get to where they’re recognised.

What are CACHE qualifications?

Unlike ones like GCSEs and A-Levels, CACHE qualifications aren’t exactly a traditional type of qualification. In fact, CACHE qualifications are types of vocational qualification, rather than being academic ones like the traditional types.

Vocational qualifications are ones that train you more directly for a specific field or job rather than being taught more generally in a subject area. These types of qualification will tend to be quite hands-on, and students often have to do coursework in order to complete it. You can learn more about vocational courses in general by checking out this Think Student article.

CACHE qualifications in particular are vocational qualifications that specialise in the care, health and education sector. They are currently offered by the NCFE exam board, which now owns the CACHE qualification provider. The acronym CACHE in itself stands for this exam board, the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education.

CACHE qualifications are available from level 1 to level 5 in the UK, allowing students to choose the right type for what they need. They are also available in a range of different subject areas, within the overall field of care, health and education.

The main categories for CACHE qualifications are as follows, but even these can be broken further down for individual qualifications.

  • Early years and childcare
  • Education and training
  • Health and science
  • Social care

You can learn more about these different subject areas by checking out this page on the NCFE website.

Have a look at this article by South London College to learn more about CACHE qualifications in general.

How do CACHE qualifications work?

As we’ve already established, there are many different CACHE qualifications that you can do across different levels and slightly different subject areas. However, there are still some key similarities between all of these qualifications in terms of how they work.

First of all, all CACHE qualifications are made up of different units. The idea of these different units is to allow students to be able to complete the qualification at their own pace, rather than having to do each unit one after the other.

Exactly how many units the qualification is made up of will depend on the level and which specific qualification it is. However, there are several elements that are the same for each of these units. Have a look at the following list to see what these are.

  • A level
  • A credit value
  • Guided learning hours
  • A unit aim
  • Learning outcomes
  • Assessment criteria

CACHE qualifications are also all assessed internally. This means that they won’t sit national exams at the end of the qualification, as you do for GCSEs and A-Levels.

Instead, will be given a grade based on the work that they’ve done throughout their course and/or controlled assessment set by their teacher. For CACHE qualifications, forms of assessment may include different kinds of assignments or projects or may instead be observed practice in the workplace.

For their final grade, students of CACHE qualifications will either pass or fail the qualification rather than getting a lettered or numbered grade. For this, students will either receive the words “achieved” or “not achieved” on their results.

You can learn more about this by checking out specifications of different CACHE qualifications, such as the ones linked here and here from the NCFE website.

Are CACHE qualifications recognised?

Yes, CACHE qualifications are fully recognised in the UK. This is because they are offered by the NCFE exam board which is recognised by the Department for Education (DfE) and is regulated by Ofqual, which by extension means that CACHE qualifications are also regulated by Ofqual.

As NCFE is one of the leading providers of vocational education in the UK, especially with the CACHE qualifications in the care, health and education field. CACHE qualifications are also recognised when it comes to employers and further or higher education providers. Due to this, doing a CACHE qualification can be great regardless of if you wish to go into a specific career or if you wish to further your education.

You can learn more about this by checking out this page of the NCFE website.

How many levels are there of CACHE?

As mentioned previously, CACHE qualifications can be taken from level 1 to level 5. In this section, we will delve into what this actually means.

Qualification levels are very simply how specific qualifications are split up. These sort the specific qualifications into ranks that indicate the difficulty and what is required of students for the qualification.

There are different systems for deciding qualification levels, even in regard to the same qualifications. CACHE qualifications are at level 1 to level 5 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which all use the national qualification levels that range from entry level to level 8.

However, Scotland uses a different system and so the equivalent levels for CACHE qualifications in Scotland would instead be level 4 to level 8. This qualification level system is known as the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) and ranges from level 1 to level 12.

For more information about CACHE qualification levels, have a look at this page on the NCFE website. You can learn more about qualification levels by having a look at this Think Student article.

How do you get a CACHE qualification?

There are several ways for students to be able to get a CACHE qualification. These will generally depend on your personal situation but also on your personal preferences.

Probably the most conventional route is for students to study CACHE qualifications in college. Depending on their age and the qualification that they’re doing, it may also be possible to study a CACHE qualification while at school or sixth form.

However, this will depend on what the school offers and will only be possible for level 1, level 2 or level 3 qualifications. This is as their age limits are low enough for 14+ year olds for level 1 qualifications or 16+ year olds for level 2 and level 3 qualifications.

Depending on the nature of the course and the availability, students may also be able to study their CACHE qualification online through distance learning. You can learn more about this by checking out this article by Distance Learning Centre, which is an online learning provider.

As previously mentioned, CACHE qualifications have minimum age requirements. These are different depending on the level of the qualification. Have a look at the following table to see the age you have to be to take these.

Level Minimum age
Level 1 14
Level 2 16
Level 3 16
Level 4 18
Level 5 19

You can see more about this by looking at the specific qualification profile pages, which can be found using the qualification search page, linked here, of the NCFE website.

What is the difference between CACHE and NVQ?

Having looked at CACHE qualifications in this article, we can very simply describe them as a form of vocational qualification in the care, health and education sector. However, NVQs are another type of vocational qualification that can be done in many different areas. Due to this, it’s important to know how these 2 types of qualification specifically differ.

An NVQ is another kind of vocational qualification, which in fact stands for national vocational qualification. NVQs prepare students directly for a specific field through on the job training. Like CACHE qualifications, students will once again need to complete different internal assessments and assignments to be able to achieve the qualification.

NVQs also come in a range of different levels, primarily there are 5 levels, from level 1 to level 5, however some NVQs can be taken in level 6 or level 7 also. NVQs are available in a wide range of different subjects, which goes beyond the care, health and education sector, although some NVQs are available in this area. Other subjects that students can get NVQs in are catering, plumbing, business administration and management and even beauty and hairdressing.

You can learn more about NVQs by checking out this Think Student article and this article by Indeed.

In summary, CACHE qualifications and NVQs are very similar. However, NVQs are available across a wider range of levels and subject areas. Also, NVQs give students a slightly more direct education, particularly in how they’re assessed.

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