82% of Education Strategic Review respondents support early clinical experience

The General Optical Council has published findings from its consultation on the future of optical education


The General Optical Council (GOC) has published a series of high level findings following a consultation on the concepts and principles of its Education Strategic Review.

The optical regulator shared that 82% of respondents agree with the concept of embedding clinical elements progressively from the beginning of education and training.

The GOC found a high level of support for the overhaul of optometric education, with 97% of respondents backing the GOC’s development of new education standards for optometrists and dispensing opticians.

The majority (84%) also supported the GOC linking education requirements to professional standards.

The concept of a national registration exam for optometrists and dispensing opticians also found favour with 81% of respondents.

GOC chief executive and registrar, Vicky McDermott, highlighted that work would be undertaken over the coming months to transform the concepts into workable approaches for the future. 

“We are delighted to have received many supportive responses to the consultation that will enable us to work at pace to develop our detailed proposals to equip future professionals with the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to practise safely and competently in a changing sector,” she shared.

The optical regulator is also performing an assessment of CET standards, Ms McDermott highlighted.

“In parallel, we are conducting a review of our Continuing Education and Training requirements to ensure they continue to support everyone on our register to maintain and develop their practice throughout their working life,” she explained.

The consultation, which ran from December 2017 to March 2018, comprised 21 questions and sought feedback on 11 different concepts.

A total of 36 responses were received to the consultation, 26 from organisations and 10 from individuals. 

GOC chair, Gareth Hadley, highlighted that the feedback affirms that the optical regulator is exploring the right concepts for the future of optical education.

“It makes the direction of travel clear,” he emphasised.

“It is essential that all parts of the optical sector recognise the role they have to play, together with us, in creating a new education, training and continuing professional development culture that can best support new and existing practitioners to deliver services patients will need in the future,” Mr Hadley observed.

The GOC has commissioned an independent analysis of the feedback from the consultation and will publish a full analysis support separately.

The Education Strategic Review is being conducted by the GOC to ensure that the accreditation, quality assurance and standards of education of optical professionals in the UK continues to be fit for purpose as the optical sector evolves.