ABDO College to take over running of WCSM courses

The association will explore the introduction of new qualifications

20 Apr 2015 by Robina Moss

The Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) College is to take over the day-to-day running of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers (WCSM) training courses for optical technicians and optical retail staff.

A new set of easier to understand qualifications are being discussed and WCSM’s director of training, Deborah Gigg, has joined ABDO College as course coordinator for optical support programmes.

It was announced at Optrafair on Saturday (18 April) that the agreement reached “in principle” on the running of the programmes will take effect from September 1, with ABDO College taking over the administration of the training courses which lead to the WCSM’s nationally accredited qualifications. 

The WCSM will remain the awarding body, and will accredit the college as an examination centre. Successful candidates will still be presented with their certificates at the livery company’s prestigious annual ceremony in the historic Apothecaries’ Hall in London each October. 

The WCSM retains responsibility for running the examinations scheduled for June and December this year, and the preparatory training leading up to them, based on the existing programme of qualifications. However, the two organisations are already engaged in a review of that programme with a view to introducing a more easily understood set of qualifications, including a new Level 4 qualification for optical retail staff to stand alongside the renowned ‘SMC Tech’ qualification.

It is also proposed that those attaining the new qualification will be entitled to carry the letters ‘SMC(OA)’ after their name. 

The planned initiative is intended to provide a solid foundation for the development of essential optical skills, and opens up a clearly defined career pathway for those entering optics at the lowest levels.

ABDO College principal, Jo Underwood, said: “For those acquiring the WCSM Level 4 qualifications who wish to progress further, we are seeking to enable a seamless transition into year two of the ABDO College diploma in ophthalmic dispensing course, which in turn leads to the Level 6 ‘FBDO’ qualification awarded by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians.”

It is hoped that the change will also eventually swell the number of former WCSM students who have not only subsequently obtained the ‘FBDO’ qualification, but gone on to qualify as optometrists.

Ms Gigg, who has joined ABDO College, said: “Those studying for the June and December 2015 examinations will be fully supported, and if necessary enabled to resit any units that they do not pass first time throughout 2016 and into 2017.”

Commenting on behalf of the WCSM, the master, Dr Christine Tomkins, said: “The company anticipates that optical technicians and optical retail staff will be able to benefit from ABDO College’s proven expertise in training and conducting examinations.” 

Dr Tomkins added: “The resources at the College’s disposal will ensure that the livery company’s qualifications are attained by a broader section of the optical community, and thereby raise the standards of eye care available to the public.”

For more information contact the ABDO College courses team on 01227 738 829 (Option 1) or email info@abdocollege.org.uk, or the WCSM on 020 7236 2932 or email clerk@spectaclemakers.com


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