GOC's open canvas task 1 - learning outcomes

Our response to the first short GOC consultation to revise standards and learning outcomes, October 2019

young optometrist

The consultation

The GOC consulted on ‘Task 1’ of its ‘open canvas’ series of short consultations to revise its Education Standards and Learning Outcomes for education providers and optical students, as part of the wider Education Strategic Review (ESR). 

The AOP's response

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is a membership organisation for optometrists and other optical professionals. We represent over 80% of the UK’s 15,000 optometrists, who are registered healthcare professionals regulated by the GOC. We also represent some Dispensing Opticians (DOs), another profession regulated by the GOC. 

We welcome the opportunity to respond to the GOC’s ESR consultation - Open Canvas for Optometrists: Task 1.

We argued in the AOP response to the ESR consultation on Standards and Learning Outcomes (SLOs) submitted in February this year, that the learning outcomes in particular required significant revisions to be fit for purpose. We therefore welcome the fact that the SLOs are being revised, and that suggestions we and others made have been taken on board in the consultation ‘background paper’ – including the use of an accepted educational framework for developing the learning outcomes, drawing on learning from other healthcare regulators, and being precise in the use of language. 

The open canvas process 

We understand that ‘task 1’ focuses on the selection of categories, and the associated elements and themes, that will constitute the Learning Outcomes for optometrists. And that there will subsequently be further short open canvas consultations following the monthly meetings of the Expert Advisory Group (EAG) – to inform the further development of the learning outcomes, common assessment framework and quality assurance framework. 

We welcome the GOC’s approach to transparency in the SLO development process. However, this planned series of short consultations poses challenges for us in obtaining views from the different segments of our membership (including students, employers and lecturers) and synthesising those views into helpful consultation responses. We understand the GOC does not intend to carry out any further public consultation on the revised SLOs after the current redrafting process is complete. We will contribute to the series of open canvas consultations as thoroughly as we can in the time available. However, we may also want to put views to the GOC in other formats as the process of revising the SLOs develops.  

This consultation

We don’t have specific comments on the ‘task 1’ category headings, but we believe the principles we set out in our consultation response are highly relevant to the SLO revision process. These include:

  • They should embed skills for critical thinking and evaluation of evidence that will enable practitioners to deal with changing practice and technology 
  • They should distinguish clearly between requirements relating to knowledge, skills, and behaviours, in a similar way to the GMC’s learning outcomes for graduates 
  • They should clearly set our what a ‘safe’ beginner’ looks like
  • Language should be used carefully and precisely to avoid misinterpretation 

Other aspects of the ESR

The GOC’s ESR report on the SLOs consultation published this September rightly reflected the range of concerns raised by the AOP and other stakeholders, about strategic risks related to the delivery of a new education system. It remains vital for the GOC to manage these risks. We are encouraged that the GOC is due to host stakeholder meetings on two of the most challenging issues for the ESR – on placements (in December) and on undue influence (in February 2020). We look forward to contributing to these events. 

We also look forward to hearing more about ESR timetable and implementation plan once these have been discussed at the GOC Council meeting on 13 November.

October 2019