GOC statement on the Education Strategic Review

Whilst work continues to progress our Education Strategic Review (ESR), we have flexed and significantly slowed its progress during the COVID-19 pandemic to enable sector bodies and providers to remain engaged in its various workstreams. It was therefore disappointing to read the statement from Sir Anthony Garrett, General Secretary of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO), in ‘Dispensing Optics’ in June where he expresses his concern that we have not paused the review during the pandemic.

Our Director of Education, Leonie Milliner, explains the purpose of the ESR and the action we are taking to ensure everyone can contribute at a pace they are comfortable with.

‘The purpose of the ESR is to update our education and training requirements for GOC approved qualifications which were last reviewed in 2007 (for contact lens qualifications) and 2011 (for dispensing optician qualifications), in 2015 (for optometry) and 2008 (for therapeutic prescribing).

Relying on education and training requirements drafted a decade or more ago is a huge strategic risk for the professions. The future is accelerating towards us at a fast pace and a root and branch review is well overdue - our requirements for approved qualifications must remain up to date. The COVID-19 crisis has sharpened that need. Patients and service users, as well as employers and commissioners, expect student dispensing opticians and optometrists to be fit for the future, with the right skills, behaviour and knowledge required for contemporary practice. Updating our education and training requirements will do this, ensuring the two professions remain relevant, meet patient and service user needs, foster innovation and offer an attractive career option in an increasingly competitive higher and further education recruitment landscape.

We continue to listen carefully, to respond to detailed feedback on our work in progress and adjust our approach accordingly. We also commission and gather evidence to inform our proposals, jointly with ABDO and other sector bodies where possible, and we will continue to pursue this approach as we work towards public consultation in late July.

We urge anyone concerned about the progress of the ESR to read the latest update to our Governing Council and the three accompanying annexes which are the early drafts of the three ESR deliverables; Outcomes for Registration; Standards for Approved Qualifications and Quality Assurance and Enhancement Method. We welcome feedback from across the sector to feed into the work of our Expert Advisory Groups (EAGs). The groups meet monthly and include representatives of ABDO and the College of Optometrists, experienced dispensing opticians and optometry colleagues.’