Interview with Philippa Mann, Head of Education
General Optical Council eBulletin 44
October 2019

Interview with Philippa Mann, Head of Education

We sat down with Philippa Mann, GOC Head of Education, to discuss what exactly a single point of accountability means for the future of optical education.

  1. What does the GOC mean by a single point of accountability?

When we refer to a single point of accountability, we mean that a student’s whole educational journey is overseen by one single organisation. The organisation can choose to work in partnership with other organisations to deliver their course, but ultimately there is one provider who is accountable – to the student and the GOC. This has sometimes been referred to as an ‘integrated registrable qualification’.

Importantly, this does not mean one single national education provider – there can still be many different registrable qualifications.

  1. What are the benefits to introducing a single point of accountability approach?

For the public and as a regulator, this will make our regulatory oversight more effective and straightforward which will help us to better protect the public.

For students, this will make the education and training pathway to becoming a fully qualified optometrist or dispensing optician much simpler and more cohesive. It will mean that they will be eligible to join the GOC fully qualified register after completing one qualification, overseen by a single organisation. They will receive more consistent and continuous support during their education and training.

For education providers, this approach encourages and allows for new and innovative integrated models of education and training. It ensures that providers have the policies and processes in place to cover end-to-end education and training pathway– so students are appropriately recruited to the programme, supported throughout their education and training and suitably prepared to enter the GOC register.

  1. How would changing to a single point of accountability affect current education providers?

It’s important to acknowledge that there are some providers who are already the ‘single point of accountability’, and others who already have contractual arrangements with other organisations such as assessment bodies or placement providers.

Current education providers may wish to consider their entire programme structures, others may wish to formalise current partnerships. Some may seek contractual arrangements with other organisations to deliver particular parts of the course, others may decide that they wish to change their programme structure entirely.

To support current providers to make the required changes, we are pursuing a phased implementation plan. This will allow appropriate preparation time for providers to review, design and implement any changes, taking into account their own internal processes. We will work closely with providers throughout the transition. More details about this will be discussed at our next Council meeting in November.

  1. What are the next steps for the ESR?

In November, we will be presenting a paper to our Council on the proposed implementation plan – which sets out details regarding planning and transition timescales as well as mitigation for key impacts which have been identified within our extensive consultation.

From September, we set up two new Expert Advisory Groups, one for optometrists and one for dispensing opticians, to help shape the new Learning Outcomes for students and Education Standards for providers and incorporate feedback from our most recent consultation. We plan to present the revised Learning Outcomes and Education Standards to Council in May 2020.

We really want to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute and give their views about the work the EAGs are doing so we have created an Open Canvas via our GOC Consultation Hub to allow stakeholders to provide their feedback throughout the process, the same way EAG members do. We hope this will also demystify the development process as well as encourage registrants to input their views. If you’d like to provide any feedback, click here.

5. How can I find out more?      

We have FAQs on our website which we update regularly. We also have a dedicated ESR mailing list to make sure you don’t miss any key developments. Please email education@optical.org if you would like to be added to this list.

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