Early years qualifications extension welcomed

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Colleges and awarding bodies have been reacting to the decision by the Children's Workforce Development Council to extend the deadline for offering some early years and childcare qualifications until January 2012.

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CACHE has asked for the Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education to be carried on until December 2011 and confirmed that Ofqual would be providing approval.

Following the critical Ofqual report, the CWDC will now develop a two-year qualification based on the new diploma to allow for progression.

CACHE chief executive Richard Dorrance also confirmed that he would be requesting around 20 of CACHE’s qualifications to be extended by Ofqual.

The new Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People's Workforce was expected to replace all existing sector-related qualifications from January 2011.

However, following recommendations by Ofqual, the CWDC has said some qualifications on the National Qualification Framework will now have until January 2012.

Meetings on the issue are soon to take place between CWDC representatives and awarding bodies.

However, Montessori and Steiner organisations are waiting for a decision on their own qualifications.

In a letter to awarding bodies dated 8 December, assistant director of the CWDC Pauline Jones said the CWDC remained 'firmly committed to full implementation of the Level 2 Certificate and the Level 3 Diploma, which remain at the heart of our qualification strategy'.

But she said the CWDC would provide letters to awarding bodies via Skills for Care and Development to support applications for an extension for certain qualifications on the list for the EYFS if they met certain criteria, as a full and relevant qualification for registration and regulation.

Carol Turnball, childcare co-ordinator and tutor at Cheadle and Marple Sixth Form College, said she was delighted the CACHE Level 3 Diploma would be extended.

She said, 'We shall now be running another two-year cohort on this course starting in September 2011. By September 2012, we hope CACHE will have received confirmation from the CWDC to run a two-year qualification, based on the new Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People's Workforce, which will include greater opportunity to demonstrate higher skills, such as analysis and evaluation.

'It would appear the lobbying done to save the two-year Level 3 CACHE Diploma has brought to the Government's attention what a step in the wrong direction for childcare and education it would have been to have got rid of it.'

A CWDC spokesperson said 'extensive discussions' with Montessori and Steiner organisations had taken place and the CWDC would write to them by 17 December. 'Steiner and Montessori do not have their qualifications on the National Qualification Framework, regulated by Ofqual. Therefore, the letter sent to awarding organisations was not directly applicable, as it addressed the request for NQF extensions.

'However, the related issues of qualifications remaining current on the CWDC qualifications list is pertinent to Montessori and Steiner, and the detail of their situation will be made clear in our correspondence with them this week.'

Statement from CACHE in response to CWDC's decision

Richard Dorrance, chief executive

‘We’ve been lobbying CWDC for quite some time now because there was a gap in provision that needed to be filled urgently and we’re really thrilled that we’ve persuaded them to have a two-year course.

‘We welcome the letter because the Ofqual report identified that there was a gap for learners who wanted to progress to full-time higher education and learners who needed a two-year programme to gain the maturity to work with children and young people.

'We’re also pleased because it meets employers’ needs and it provides a two-year course to meet the Government objective in the recent white paper, for young people to stay on in education until they’re 18.

'We’ve written to Ofqual enclosing the CWDC letter, asking for them to extend the CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education until December 2011. Ofqual will be providing that approval.

'We have a letter from CWDC that guarantees funding for the under-19s, but there’s no funding for the over-19s to continue to offer the Diploma.

'The Young People’s Learning Agency will continue to fund it, but the Skills Funding Agency will not fund it. For the vast majority of candidates this will not be a problem, as most will be under 19. We’re disappointed that CWDC have not extended the Level 3 Award and Certificate in Childcare and Education. However, all is not lost.

‘Ofqual wrote to all awarding organisations on Thursday saying that NQF qualifications can be extended until December 2011, provided that there is some sector support.

'CACHE will be asking employers which of its NQF qualifications should be extended and will be applying before Christmas for its most relevant qualifications to be extended for the next 12 months.’

Mr Dorrance stressed that only NQF qualifications on section 96 (vocational qualifications on the National Qualifications Framework) will get public funding and only for the under-19s. Section 96 is the list of qualifications that the Secretary of State publishes that can be used in schools and colleges.

‘Quite a lot of people have been saying that the QCF (Qualifications Curriculum Framework) does not meet the needs of employers and Ofqual are now consulting as to whether there should be more than one qualifications framework,' he said.

'The likelihood is that by the end of 2011, either the QCF will be broader to meet the needs of employers and learners, or there will be a separate framework to ensure no learners are disadvantaged.

'Ofqual are allowing awarding organisations to extend some of their NQF qualifications until the outcome of the consultation.

'CACHE will not be extending NVQs in children’s care, learning and development because the new QCF Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce is a very good replacement for the NVQ.'

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