AOP responds to optometry apprenticeship submission to IFATE

Proposal for optometry apprenticeship pathway submitted by trailblazer group without consulting sector bodies

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) has today been made aware that the trailblazer group formed to develop an optometrist apprenticeship pathway has submitted its application to the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE).

In a statement, the trailblazer group confirmed the application will go through an approvals process with IFATE. A decision is expected in January 2022.

It is understood a medical apprenticeship pathway for doctors has also been submitted for review to the IFATE.

Throughout the process, the AOP has voiced the concerns of members, with a particular focus on student supervision and quality assurance in relation to the proposals.

The AOP was the first major optical body to oppose the current proposal for the degree apprenticeship – drawing on member feedback to build a case against the proposal as part of its consultation response in December 2019.

Responding to the update, AOP Chief Executive, Adam Sampson said: “Patient safety has to be at the forefront of how the education framework is developed for optometry. We’re disappointed but not surprised that the trailblazer group has demonstrated a disregard for the deep concerns raised across the profession by submitting this proposal without consulting the sector bodies. Our firm position is based on an unprecedented level of feedback and concern from our members, who view the proposal as it stands with a serious lack of confidence.

“I want to assure members that, if the IFATE approve the trailblazer group’s proposal, we will be ready to expose any serious risks in the implementation process and demand the requisite steps are taken to mitigate them,” he added.


For more information, please contact Serena Box, PR and Media Manager, at the Association of Optometrists, [email protected] or telephone 020 7549 2040.

An image of Adam Sampson, AOP Chief Executive is available via this DropBox folder.

Notes to Editors

Association of Optometrists

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support over 82% of practising optometrists, to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. For more information, visit