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Technical alternative to A levels bolsters optical assistant training

From 2022, students can choose to study optical care services as part of their second year of a T level in Healthcare Sciences

students in the park
Pixabay/ Naassom Azevedo
A Technical Level (T Level) in Healthcare Science will be launched in September 2021, with students having the option to study optical care services as part of their second year from 2022.

T Levels are new courses that follow GCSEs and are equivalent to three A levels.

The qualifications incorporate a mixture of classroom learning and practical experience, with students required to complete an industry placement of at least 35 hours.

The first year of the Healthcare Science T Level will cover a scientific and academic core. Second year will see students choose between different subjects including pharmacy services, assisting with healthcare science, and prosthetic and orthotic technical services.

Optical care services and dental care services are due to be available from September 2022.

AOP policy officer, Saqib Ahmad, emphasised that the qualification is a separate development to the proposal for an optometry degree apprenticeship.

He highlighted that the T Levels could provide an additional route to upskill the non-registered optical workforce.

“A T Level in Healthcare Science with an optical care services specialism may allow someone to work as an optical assistant but does not lead to any GOC registerable qualifications,” Ahmad said.