Interview - Richard Dorrance, Outgoing CEO at CACHE

Friday, April 5, 2013

What have been the highs and lows of your career as CEO of CACHE for nearly 20 years?

What have been the highs and lows of your career as CEO of CACHE for nearly 20 years?

I joined CACHE because I wanted to make a difference for learners and for children and their families. When I shake hands with our successful candidates and hear the barriers that they have overcome to become qualified, I feel humbled and I also feel very proud of CACHE. Our qualifications provide many learners with a route back into education and into employment.  Many of these learners have never experienced success before and our qualifications, and the gifted tutors and assessors who help deliver them, give learners the confidence to succeed.  If this is all we have achieved in the last 19 years, it is enough to make me feel good.  However I believe CACHE has achieved much more.

When I started at CACHE 19 years ago, we registered 2,500 learners a year.  We now register over 100,000 learners a year. 1 in 2 of all childcare learners register with CACHE. 

In 1997, the Government introduced National Training Organisations.  I could see the opportunity – it would persuade the Government and the public that working with children was a profession with its own professional standards. I convinced the CACHE Board, and then the Government that CACHE could set up the Early Years NTO with a firewall between the NTO and the awarding organisation. Although the Government never gave the Early Years NTO sufficient grants, the EYNTO improved the supply of new recruits to the sector, improved the quality of training by kite-marking training providers and established the first list of recognised qualifications for working with children.

I’m also proud of the work we have done with learners whose first language is not English, for example Nepalese learners in Kent, and Welsh speakers.

Any qualification should provide career progression and I have fought hard to persuade admission tutors that our CACHE level 3 qualifications are a good preparation for entry to university degree programmes, or careers in nursing and midwifery.

I haven’t had any really deep lows.  I always see the positive side of events, and I see potential risks as opportunities.  I guess that the biggest low was when the Government closed down the NTOs, and CACHE was not allowed to bid to become a sector skills council because it was an awarding organisation.  This meant that we had to find other ways of influencing national strategy and public opinion.
 

You have seen a lot of changes take place over the years, what have been the biggest changes and how have these impacted on CACHE and/or the workforce?

 In 1997, the Government set up a new body, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority which was given the task of reforming the vocational qualifications sector.  Since then, successive Governments have tried to nationalise vocational qualifications.This culminated in 2009 with the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) deciding that there should be only one childcare qualification at Level 2 and one at Level 3.  CACHE was not allowed to write its own childcare qualifications and instead was required to deliver the CWDC’s qualifications.There is now recognition by Government that this was a step too far, and awarding organisations are again being allowed to develop their own qualifications in partnership with employers.  The impact on CACHE and the workforce has been continual change!

When I joined CACHE in 1994, there was a perception in Government that anyone could work with children without the need for training. Only half the workforce had a relevant qualification. This has gradually changed. In 1997, CACHE worked with the National Childminding Association, which has now become the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), to develop the first national qualification for childminders. At the same time, CACHE became the awarding organisation for two Pre-School Learning Alliance national qualifications at Level 2 and at Level 3. 

In 1999, the Government required all daycare providers and childminders to be registered and work commenced on the first list of recognised qualifications. In 2001 the National Standards for Under Eights Day Care and Childminding were introduced. In 2002, the Birth to Three Matters Framework was launched. CACHE had to modify its qualifications to meet the new requirements. Margaret Hodge was the first person to be appointed Children’s Minister, in 2003. She worked tirelessly to raise the status of the profession. This was followed by the publication of the Early Years Foundation Stage. Today’s workforce is very different from the workforce in 1994.  Childcare is perceived to be a profession. Today, 78 per cent of the workforce has a relevant qualification at Level 3 or higher.
 

What are your thoughts on changes to qualifications stated in More Great Childcare, such as the introduction of the early years educator qualification?

I welcome the introduction of a new two-year qualification at Level 3. I have argued for the last four years that the CWDC Level 3 qualification was too short to give learners sufficient skills, knowledge and understanding to provide an outstanding service to children and their families. It lacked depth and there was too little emphasis on making child observations and planning appropriate activities. However I have serious concerns about the proposed content of the new qualification, and I hope that readers will write to the Teaching Agency who are currently consulting on it.  For example, there is no mention of learning through play.

 
In the past you've raised concerns about minimal entry levels and how they could potentially reduce the number of recruits, do you believe entry levels should be lowered to overcome this?

I believe that there should be a variety of entry routes for new recruits.  Not everyone can study for two years at level 3 to enter the profession.  These entry routes should allow people to return to study and to enter the workforce who have not achieved at school but who have the right attitudes and abilities to support children’s development.  These learners need stepping stones to achieve a level 3 qualification.  I believe a minimum requirement for level 3 would act as a barrier for these people entering the workforce.  However I believe strongly that everyone working in the sector should continually strive to improve their practice and should work towards raising their qualification levels to at least a level 3.

 
How do you expect CACHE to develop in the future and where do you see it in the next 20 years?

I believe CACHE will go from strength to strength as an internationally recognised specialist awarding organisation.  It has recently developed qualifications in adult care and health care so that it can provide a one-stop shop for learners and training providers.  I’m confident that its Early Years Educator qualification, when completed, will be regarded as the international gold standard of level 3 early years qualifications, like the NNEB Diploma in the 80s and 90s.
In the next 20 years I would like to see a Royal College of Childcare established, and I would like to see CACHE closely involved in its development.

 
Are you looking forward to your retirement and what plans do you have?

I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family. I married late in life and have a ten year old and a 13 year old to keep me young. I will be looking for new activities to allow me to continue in the education sector and I will be giving more time to other aspects of my life that I enjoy including gardening, coaching an under tens football team, researching local history, acting as a trustee of a small charity and as a member of a Parish Council sub-group improving my local community. 

 

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