NQF vs. QCF ... Huh?

Posted on 12-07-2012

Our Superfan of the Month, Jodie Michelle-Swanbo, posted a comment on my first blog asking for information on NQF vs. QCF and how our courses relate. Great question. And for those of you taking, or interested in, any of our teaching assistant courses, pay attention. This one’s for you.

Deep breath, and here we go:

NQF stands for National Qualifications Framework and QCF for Qualifications and Credit Framework. The frameworks are systems that were developed to define and differentiate varying levels of qualifications. Within the frameworks you can compare and contrast levels against one another, and illustrate how one level can lead to the next.

The NQF describes the level at which a qualification can be recognised in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It consists of 9 levels, ranging from entry level to level 8. To progress through the NQF, you do not necessarily need to obtain qualifications from every level. Until recently, this framework included all general and vocational qualifications since 1997.

The QCF is a new framework, developed to replace the NQF for vocational-related qualifications within England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each qualification within the QCF is made up of units and these units are worth a particular amount of credits. One credit equals ten hours of learning. 

The qualifications in the QCF vary in their level of difficulty, from entry level to level 8, making them similar to the levels of qualifications within the NQF. So a qualification carrying the QCF label will be of a particular level, which indicates the difficulty of the qualification, and it will carry a particular amount of credits, which indicates how long it might take to complete.

Basically, teaching assistant courses are moving out of the NQF and into the QCF. One is not better than the other. The idea is that the QCF is a more flexible approach to students gaining qualifications.

Ugh, my brain hurts! Now, as for our courses

Most of our courses carry a NCFE accreditation, which is a guarantee of quality. It means that the college has been inspected and approved by an independent and experienced education professional and is audited for quality twice each year by the NCFE.

Some of our courses carry a CACHE accreditation. CACHE is an awarding organisation particularly for the child and adult care sectors.

·         Higher Level Teaching Assistant Course is awarded at NCFE Level 4. The learning outcomes of this course have been benchmarked at QCF Level 4, using the QCF level descriptors.

·         Teaching Assistant Course is awarded at NCFE Level 3, and the learning outcomes for this course have been benchmarked at QCF Level 3.

·         Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools Certificate Course is a Level 3 NCFE qualification and is listed on the QCF at Level 3, with 32 credits.

·         Teaching Assistant: CACHE Level 2 Award Course in Support Work in Schools is listed on the QCF at Level 2 and carries 12 credits.

·         Teaching Assistant: CACHE Level 2 Certificate Course in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools is listed on the QCF Level 2, with 30 credits.

·         Teaching Assistant: CACHE Level 3 Award Course in Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools is listed on the QCF at Level 3, with 12 credits.

There’s a great website that describes the qualification frameworks in detail: http://www.ofqual.gov.uk/qualifications-assessments. Or, if you have specific questions related to our courses, as always, give us a ring.

Phew! I’m definitely getting a chocolate biscuit.


  • chazerz
    26-01-2013 09:27:50
    Hi, I'm really confused as to where I stand with the new qcf coming into practice. I have my cache diploma in childcare and education (level 3) and currently work in a supervisery role. I have been informed by my employers that I need to do my qcf level 5 if I continue to work in the childcare sector as this is going to be a requirement. I have researched the level 5 and their is no funding available so I cannot afford to do it. Can anyone explain to me if this is required? Many thank's Chaz
  • AstralW
    17-01-2013 21:31:28
    I live in Ireland, I'd like to know the equivalent of "NCFE level 5" in the Irish accredition system "FETAC" (if it's possible to compare).
  • Emma Reed
    26-11-2012 20:58:43
    Glad I have seen this now as I know some people were worried in the student community about their course. I was very happy doing mine and didn't see there would be a problem but its good that stonebridge has responded and put peoples minds at ease.
  • Sophie
    01-11-2012 11:12:32
    Great help, have wondered this, this sort of stuff is so confusing and this is explained so well
  • rebecca bath
    31-10-2012 16:23:09
    Looks great josie.. its great for jodie to ask. great information :-)
  • Jodie
    28-09-2012 16:19:00
    Would it be possible to get a list of current and future courses that will be on the QCF? It would be really helpful to know that the studying is going to be recognised in the new framework :o)jo
  • Jodie
    12-07-2012 14:22:12
    Thanks Josie, this help clear things up for me! Just wondering if Stonebridge plan to offer more courses on the QCF in future? Thanks again :o)

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