However, after Nursery World went to press on Thursday, CACHE issued a further statement to confirm that the awarding body is working with providers and employers and aims to have a Higher Apprenticeship available early in 2014. (See both statements in full below.)
The Higher Apprenticeship is being developed in response to strong demand for the qualification, as evidenced by research by nursery group Kids Allowed, who are working with CACHE on developing the qualification.
A survey carried out by Kids Allowed's chief executive Jennie Johnson has revealed that there are potentially thousands of early years and childcare workers keen to continue their training by moving up to a Level 5 qualification, but who are unable to do so because they are unable to fund the qualification, either paid for by their employer or as individuals.
The online survey was set up to gauge the demand for Level 5. Responses were received from 153 individuals and 104 nursery groups with 1,766 employees seeking to undertake a Level 5 in childcare.
Previously, students or employers would have been able to access funding for the CACHE Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care and Children and Young People's Services on the Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF) in England, which although not a dedicated early years qualification, includes some childcare units.
Childcare students were able to access funding through a shared pathway with health and social care, but this has now been stopped so that only students that are taking the health and social care pathway are eligible for funding.
Because there is no longer a shared pathway students are also unable to access a student loan to pay for the qualification.
Jennie Johnson told Nursery World, 'There is no funding at the moment - that is why we need to lobby hard. Social care has it - we don't, this is not acceptable. Without funding for our sector, how can colleagues move beyond Level 3, and therefore how are we going to encourage them to graduate status.'
Kids Allowed, which has just opened its sixth nursery with 200 places in Stockport, set up a training academy last year.
Ms Johnson said, 'Now we have the training academy and a lot of people are hitting a brick wall because they cannot get funding for their Level 5. We're continuing to deliver Level 2 and Level 3. We have 48 colleagues desperate to do a Level 5. We expected to start delivering this from September, but now we can't because we've hit this block.'
Frustrated by the situation, Ms Johnson is in the process of developing a Level 5 qualification, which she hopes to get recognised as a Higher Apprenticeship so that it would be eligible for funding.
'The survey reveals a massive appetite for a Level 5, ' she added. 'We need to resolve the funding issue. Given that the current and previous Government are wanting a graduate-led workforce in childcare, this makes no sense at all. I have been lobbying to get this issue resolved and we are effectively now at the stage that funding should be forthcoming if we can demonstrate demand.'
However, not all Level 5 qualifications are eligible for Government funding, because not all of them are recognised as Higher Apprenticeships.
For example, the only specialist early years Level 5 QCF qualification currently available was developed this year by City and Guilds and is offered by training company PBD, but it is not eligible for Government funding because it is not a Higher Apprenticeship.
The issue is further complicated by changes to the way that further education is funded.
From 1 August, students aged 24 and over and studying in England at Level 3, Level 4 or an advanced or Higher Apprenticeship, will have to be funded by the individual or an employer through a 24+ Advanced Learning Loan from the Student Loans Company.
John Myers, head of apprenticeships at the National Apprenticeships Service, told Nursery World, 'There is currently only a Higher Apprenticeship framework available for health and social care, but no Higher Apprenticeship in childcare.'
'It's about developing a new qualification, which I'm currently working with Jennie on. In doing this we will need to work with the awarding body CACHE and the sector skills council.'
He added, 'A key recommendation of the recent Richard Review is to make it easier for employers to develop new apprenticeships. Employers and other organisations with relevant industry expertise will be invited to design and develop new apprenticeship qualifications for their sectors. Jennie is ahead of the game and I'm sure her experience in the sector will help to articulate the requirement.'
In a statement, the Skills Funding Agency said, 'As announced in the Skills Funding Statement from 2013/14 the Skills Funding Agency no longer approves funding, or funds stand alone qualifications above Level 4, therefore funding for a Level 5 Diploma is no longer funded through the agency.
'The agency will continue to fund those qualifications that fall within a Higher Apprenticeship Framework up to Level 6 and are on the QCF. The health and social care diploma currently sits on the QCF and forms part of a Higher Apprenticeship; therefore this will have a funding rate applied for 13/14.
'Where individuals are aged 24+ and seeking a Higher Apprenticeship then the Advanced Learning Loan will apply from 13/14.'
STATEMENT FROM CACHE
'Due to the substantial demand from the childcare sector, CACHE has been in discussions with the relevant sector bodies over the past six months with the aim of developing a Higher Apprenticeship for the Children’s Workforce.
'The publication of the Full and Relevant Criteria, alongside the confirmation of the new SASE (Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England) framework conditions earlier in the year and the strong support we have received from organisations such as Kids Allowed, now allow us to take the next step in bringing this long-overdue progression route for Level 3 childcare learners to market.
'We have been consulting with the sector on the most appropriate format, and with the continued support of the providers and employers hope to have the Higher Apprenticeship available to learners early in 2014.'
CACHE adds, 'The CACHE Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care and Children and Young People's Services (England) (QCF) qualification provides the skills and knowledge required to manage, practice and lead others in adult health and social care provision or in children and young people's services.
'There are six pathways - three for adults and three tailored for children and young people: Management, Residential Services and Advanced Practice.
'From 1st August 2013, stand-alone Level 5 qualifications will no longer attract adult funding from the Skills Funding Agency. Level 5 qualifications will only attract adult funding if taken as part of Higher Apprenticeship Framework.
'The Health and Social Care pathways are fundable through the Care Leadership and Management Higher Apprenticeship Framework. The Children and Young People pathways are not yet fundable through a Higher Apprenticeship Framework, as there currently is no Higher Apprenticeship for Child Care.
'CACHE is lobbying for a Higher Apprenticeship for Childcare.'