Interview: Ella Pobee, Education Officer - Development

As the first twelve updated qualifications are set to be delivered this autumn, we spoke with Ella about her role in supporting providers’ transition to our new education and training requirements.

What does your role entail?

As an Education Officer, I work closely with providers to help them adapt their current qualifications to meet our new education and training requirements. From the moment a provider submits their adapted qualification to us, an officer is allocated who will maintain regular communication through an email update sent at each stage of the process. I’m also on hand to answer providers’ questions throughout the process and provide approximate timelines so that expectations are aligned.

What do providers have to do to demonstrate their qualification meets the new ETR?

To adapt their qualifications, providers must submit evidence against specific standards listed for their respective specialisms. These standards cover areas such as curriculum design, risk identification and management, and stakeholder involvement. More information about the specific standards are available on our website.

As the regulator, it is our role to ensure that qualifications leading to registration meet our education standards so optical professionals are adequately trained to deliver high quality care to patients and the public. That is why we are closely involved with each providers’ application to make sure they understand what is required of them and can meet our standards.  

Were there any challenges as the new requirements were introduced?

Initially, some providers were nervous about the adaptation process as it was new. Additionally, we are mindful that providers, while adapting to the new requirements, are also delivering qualifications under the current handbooks, so we aim to make the process as clear and simple as possible. This is achieved by having different officers for the ETR and handbook qualifications and these respective officers ensuring clarity and explaining the division.

As time has progressed, we have made some improvements to the process following providers’ feedback on what has worked well and what hasn’t. The changes introduced have increased the confidence of providers and include:

  • Meeting with providers to discuss their individual adaptations and ensuring that the supporting and guidance documents on the website are clear.
  • Following submission, providers are given the opportunity to expand on their submission before it is sent to the Education Visitor Panel (panel) and Head of Education Development.

Once a submission is received, the panel, consisting of both registrant and lay members, will review the submission and make recommendations to GOC staff as to whether it has sufficiently met the standards. The Head of Education Development then reviews the recommendations put forward by the panel and GOC staff and decides whether a submission sufficiently meets the standards for the qualification to be noted.

What does it mean for the GOC to ‘note’ an updated qualification?

Once we are satisfied that a provider’s existing qualification can meet the updated education and training requirements, we will ‘note’ it. This means that we have reviewed the detailed plans of how the provider’s adapted qualification will meet the new requirements and have noted these changes. We refer to this as a noting process rather than approval, as the providers adapting already hold GOC approval of their existing qualification.

How many qualifications have met the new ETR so far?

So far, we have noted a total of 12 qualifications across optometry, dispensing optics, and independent prescribing that are ready to be delivered from September or October 2023. Our discussions indicate that most providers wish to adapt their remaining qualifications for delivery from September 2024.

A full list can be found on our ETR webpage.

Where can I get more information?

See our FAQs for more information about the new ETR and how they may impact you. We have also produced an animation and timeline infographic to explain how we developed the new requirements and why.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with our Education Team on