GOC Council approves updated requirements for contact lens opticians

The General Optical Council (GOC) Council has approved updated education and training requirements for GOC-approved qualifications for contact lens opticians. The decision was made at the Council meeting held on 16 March 2022.

The proposed Outcomes for Approved Qualifications, Standards for Approved Qualifications, and Quality and Assurance Enhancement Method were publicly consulted on from September 2021 to January 2022. They replace the ‘Contact Lens Handbook’ (published November 2007) and the ‘Contact Lens Speciality Core Competencies’ (published in 2011), and the policies on supervision and recognition of prior learning.

The key changes include:

  • Candidates will acquire a single qualification approved by the GOC leading to specialist entry to the GOC register as a contact lens optician.
  • The approved qualification will be either an academic award or a regulated qualification at a minimum of Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) (or equivalent) level 6.
  • There will be no proposed minimum/maximum or recommended time or credit volume for an approved qualification or specified location or duration of clinical experience, other than the requirement that an approved qualification leading to specialist entry to the GOC register as a contact lens optician must integrate approximately 225 hours of learning and experience in practice.
  • The provider of the approved qualification must, in the design, delivery and assessment of an approved qualification, involve and be informed by feedback from a range of stakeholders including patients, employers, trainees, supervisors, members of the eye-care team and other healthcare professionals.
  • An outcomes-based approach is used to specify knowledge, skills and behaviours using an established competence and assessment hierarchy known as ‘Miller’s Pyramid of Clinical Competence’ (knows; knows how; shows how; and does).
  • Providers of approved qualifications are responsible for the measurement (assessment) of students’ achievement of the outcomes at the required level (on Miller’s Pyramid) leading to an award of an approved qualification.
  • Providers of approved qualifications will be responsible for recruiting and selecting trainees onto a programme leading to an award of an approved qualification. Recognition of prior learning can be deployed to assist the progression of trainees whose progress to specialist registration has stalled.

Marcus Dye, Acting Director of Regulatory Strategy, said: “We are pleased to receive Council’s approval on these updated requirements, subject to some small alterations following feedback from Council. The requirements will ensure that the qualifications we approve going forward are responsive to the changing needs of patients and service-users, changes in higher education, and the increased expectations of trainees, commissioners and employers.

Thank you to everyone involved for their contributions in drafting and finalising these new requirements, including input from our Expert Advisory Group for contact lens opticians, our statutory committees, registrants, professional and education bodies, and other stakeholders.

These requirements conclude our review of optical education, and we now move forward in helping providers to adapt their qualifications to meet the new outcomes and standards for optometry and dispensing optics, prescribing, and contact lens qualifications.”

The GOC will work with providers to adapt their existing contact lens qualifications or develop new qualifications to meet the new outcomes and standards at a pace which best suits them.

Further updates from the Council meeting are available on the GOC website.