The AOP has responded to a consultation on the General Optical Council’s (GOC) draft Education Standards and Learning Outcomes as part of the Education Strategic Review.
Key points in the AOP’s response include a call for the GOC to redraft the Learning Outcomes to provide a clear description of the required standard for a “safe beginner.”
The AOP also states that the GOC should explain the public protection rationale behind moving to a one-stage journey to registration for optometrists.
It emphasises the need for the GOC to ensure that the final assessment leading to registration as an optometrist is robust and consistent across different education providers.
A number of considerations around providing early clinical experience to optometry students are also detailed by the AOP.
AOP policy director, Tony Stafford, highlighted that the AOP worked with members to construct its response to the consultation.
“Our key message is that although we support the principle of more flexible rules on the training of optometrists, we think the GOC’s current approach raises some big risks and challenges,” he said.
“For instance, it isn’t clear what the GOC thinks a ‘safe beginner’ optometrist should look like, or how they’ll make sure all students meet that standard before joining the register,” Mr Stafford continued.
“We know students would welcome more clinical experience early in their training but organising worthwhile and varied early placements for every student may be a real practical challenge,” Mr Stafford emphasised.
He added that there are important questions around funding of new programmes and the degree of influence that employers should have over professional training.
“We hope our response helps the GOC to tackle these issues and make good progress with the review, so that the optometrists of the future are properly equipped to work in a fast-changing world,” Mr Stafford concluded.
Image credit: Shane Wenzlick