General Optical Council’s Education Strategic Review consultation

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15 May 2019
Source: General Optical Council

Council discussed the findings from the Education Strategic Review (ESR) consultation on draft Education Standards for providers and Learning Outcomes for students and provided clear steers on key elements of the review.

The purpose of the ESR is to review and make recommendations on how the system of optical education and training should evolve so that registrants are equipped to carry out the roles they will be expected to perform in the future. Since the review’s launch in 2017, the GOC has consulted extensively to understand the key risks, opportunities and impacts facing the sector, such as the need to respond to the changes in the needs of patients, the roles of optical professionals, and delivery of healthcare across all four nations in the UK.

The GOC thanked everyone that has responded to the consultation which closed in February, receiving 539 responses. The consultation asked for views on whether the draft standards and learning outcomes were fit for purpose, the timescale for implementation and continuing student registration.

Generally, there was support for more flexibility for providers to allow for innovation and earlier clinical experience. However, there were concerns raised regarding the drafting and suitability of the standards and learning outcomes (including requests for more detail), funding and the timeline for implementation. The GOC explained that there was more work to do and that the consultation had helpfully highlighted a number of new concerns which will be considered in more detail in the anticipated consultation response document.

Council provided steers on the following key elements of the review in order to achieve the overarching vision of a workforce that is fit for the future, expressing support for the development of:

  • A model in which any ‘programme of study’ which leads to registration is led by one accountable provider, who is permitted to work in partnership with other organisations and determine the amount of integration within the programme;
  • A standardised assessment framework which maintains comparable outcomes between providers but supports innovation and agility underpinned by rigorous quality and assurance controls;
  • Increasing clinical content of undergraduate education and training to support early exposure to patient groups;
  • Increasing emphasis on professionalism and clinical leadership; and
  • Support for newly qualified professionals, exploring CPD that includes requirements around mentoring and peer reflection.

The next step is to invite stakeholder representatives to workshops to explore the risks and benefits of these key elements and to co-create solutions that safeguard public health. The workshops will also explore feasible timeframes for implementation and sustainable models for delivery.

GOC will publish a response paper to the consultation and seek agreement with Council on the next steps.

The GOC Director of Education Dr Subo Shanmuganathan said, “We’re delighted to have received so many responses to the Education Strategic Review. Our stakeholders understand the need for reform and the challenges facing the sector. Now that we have a steer from Council and a clear direction of travel we want to ensure that we continue to listen and engage with our stakeholders to make sure we work together to achieve good outcomes for patients.”

Anglia Ruskin University new programme – Council has granted provisional approval for a new Postgraduate Certificate (Contact Lens Optician) programme at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU). ARU aims to introduce the programme in September 2019 with an initial intake of 16 students for the first cohort.

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