2020 archived consultation: Education and training requirements for GOC approved qualifications


19 Oct 2020


27 Jul 2020

This consultation was previously hosted on our consultation hub. We have moved it here as part of archiving.

We asked

We consulted on proposals to update our requirements for approved qualifications leading to registration as an optometrist or a dispensing optician.

You said

Our consultation closed in October 2020 and we received 187 responses.

We commissioned Enventure Research to analyse the responses and the report is available to view on our website.

We did

We published our response to the consultation on our website in February 2021. 

We decided to further develop the Outcomes for Registration, paying particular attention to the development of separate profession-specific outcomes and indictors within the Clinical Practice category of the Outcomes for Registration. 

A sector-led co-produced indicative document has been commissioned to provide more granular guidance on the design of curricula and approaches to assessment for providers of approved qualification providers and those applying for qualification approval in respect of each optical profession's scope of practice.

We continued to review the Standards for Approved Qualifications in light of the detailed commentary received as part of the consultation from individuals and organisations.

We proposed to keep the financial impact assessment under review during the implementation period and will support the sector as appropriate as it makes the case for additional funding.

In response to stakeholder feedback, we have reverted to using our existing term ‘provider’ to describe the awarding body / academic organisation responsible for the award of the approved qualification (in simple terms, the organisation whose name/logo appears on the candidate’s approved qualification certificate).

Original consultation


This consultation seeks your views on our proposals to update our requirements for GOC approved qualifications leading to registration as an optometrist or a dispensing optician. 

What are we seeking your views on?

We are seeking your views on;

  • Our proposed Outcomes for Registration, which describe the expected knowledge, skills and behaviours a dispensing optician or optometrist must have at the point they qualify and enter the register with the GOC.
  • Our proposed Standards for Approved Qualifications, which describe the expected context for the delivery and assessment of the outcomes leading to an award of an approved qualification.
  • Our proposed Quality Assurance and Enhancement Method, which describes how we propose to gather evidence to decide whether a qualification leading to registration as either a dispensing optician or an optometrist meets our Outcomes for Registration and Standards for Approved Qualifications, in accordance with the Opticians Act.
  • Our outline impact assessment, which describes our assessment of the impact of our proposals to update our requirements for GOC approved qualifications.

What will our proposals replace?

Together, these documents will replace our Quality Assurance Handbooks for optometry (2015) and dispensing opticians (2011), including the list of required core-competences, the numerical requirements for students’ practical experiences, education policies and guidance contained within the handbooks, and our policies on supervision and recognition of prior learning which are published separately. You can read the documents we are proposing to replace, here; Optometry Handbook 2015Dispensing Handbook 2011.

Why are we consulting?

We would like to hear your views on the proposals in the consultation to help us update our requirements for education and training requirements for GOC approved qualifications to ensure that the qualifications we approve are fit for purpose.

Our proposals mitigate the risk that our current requirements (contained within our Quality Assurance Handbooks) become out of date.

The proposed ‘Outcomes for Registration,’ ‘Standards for Approved Qualifications’ and ‘Quality Assurance and Enhancement Method’ together will ensure the qualifications we approve are responsive to a rapidly changing landscape in the commissioning of eye-care services in each of the devolved nations. They respond to the changing needs of patients and service users and changes in higher education, not least as a result of the COVID-19 emergency, as well as increased expectations of the student community and their future employers. 

What have we consulted on previously?

These proposals are based on our analysis of key findings in our Concepts and Principles Consultation published in 2017-2018 and feedback from our 2018-2019 consultation on proposals stemming from the Education Strategic Review (ESR). For more information please visit the ESR policy development and research page.

What are we not consulting on?

We also approve two post registration qualifications; dispensing opticians, contact lens qualifications; and for optometrists, therapeutic prescribing qualifications. Our requirements for these qualifications were published in 2007 and 2008 respectively.  Work to update our requirements for contact lens qualifications and therapeutic prescribing qualifications will commence in Autumn 2020 and will be consulted upon separately.

We are not consulting on whether or not we should approve degree apprenticeships. All qualifications we approve, including any proposals for degree apprenticeships that might arise, will have to meet all of our proposed outcomes and standards, which are significantly more stretching than our current requirements in our Quality Assurance Handbooks. 

How have we developed our proposals?

Our proposals have been guided by evidence-based policy making and draw upon best practice from other regulators, professional and chartered bodies. You can read our research, background and briefing papers here.

In preparing this document we were advised by two Expert Advisory Groups (EAGs) with input from the Quality Assurance Agency and feedback from a range of stakeholder groups including our Education Visitors, our Advisory Panel (including the Education Committee) the optical sector and sight-loss charities.

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to help us develop our proposals to ensure our proposed ‘Outcomes for Registration,' 'Standards for Approved Qualifications' and 'Quality Assurance and Enhancement Method' protects and benefits the public, safeguards patients and helps to secure the health of service-users.

What do I need to do?

If you are a member of the public, a patient or service user, you may only be interested in reading our proposed ‘Outcomes for Registration’ and answering a few questions focused on your experience as a patient or service-user.  (Section 1, which should take about five minutes to complete in addition to reading the document.)

If you are a GOC Registrant, a student or an employer of GOC Registrants, you may only be interested in reading our proposed ‘Outcomes for Registration’ and ‘Standards for Approved Qualifications’ and answering questions about our proposals as a whole. (Section 2, which should take about 10 minutes to complete in addition to reading the documents.)

If you are an academic, a researcher or a supervisor, or you are responding on behalf of an provider of a GOC approved qualification, a professional membership or third sector body, or another organisation or regulator, we suggest you read our proposed ‘Outcomes for Registration’ and ‘Standards for Approved Qualifications’ as well as our proposed ‘Quality Assurance and Enhancement Method’ and answer our Technical Questionnaire, in addition to answering questions about our proposals as a whole. (Section 3, which will take about 30 minutes to complete in addition to reading the documents.)

We recognise our proposals are detailed, with a range of impacts on different stakeholder groups, so if you wish to answer all the questions in each section of the questionnaire, please do so.

Towards the end there are some questions for everyone to answer about the impact of our proposals. (Section 4, which will take about five minutes to complete.)

Consultation data will be securely shared with our research partner for this work, Enventure Research, for independent analysis and reporting. We will be receiving data on a regular basis and will adjust our approach to engagement with the sector as guided by Enventure Research.

What happens next?

The responses to this public consultation will be independently analysed and a report prepared for the GOC which will be published thereafter. The GOC will carefully consider the results of this consultation before publishing its own response.