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The College says proposed apprenticeship standard fails to address sector concerns

The College says proposed apprenticeship standard fails to address sector concerns

The College has responded to the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education’s (IfATE) degree apprenticeship consultations saying that, as currently drafted, they will undermine the profession and risk patient safety.

Commenting on the standard and end point assessment (EPA) for the proposed Optometry Degree Apprenticeship, the College identified serious failings in the characterisation of the optometric profession, optometrists’ contribution to healthcare, as well as the knowledge, skills and behaviours that would be required of apprentices to enter it.

The draft standard appears to have been submitted without addressing many of the concerns raised in the public consultation or having involved key stakeholders in development.

Lizzy Ostler, Director of Education for The College of Optometrists, said: “The proposed apprenticeship standard fails to capture the distinctive professional and autonomous nature of contemporary optometric practice or properly address the requirements introduced by the GOC through its Education Strategic Review, as was required after the public consultation. It is only weakly aligned with the new GOC outcomes and does not capture the characteristics of a qualification at level 7/11 (Masters) as is also required for professional registration.

“We believe that these, and other issues identified across all areas of the consultation, can only be remedied by substantial redrafting in collaboration with leading sector bodies and stakeholders. Without this, it is unclear how a degree apprenticeship could be implemented safely and effectively, and without significant, on-going challenge from the sector.”

The College has also criticised the issuing of the endpoint assessment plan for consultation at the same time as the standard, rather than following the usual sequential process. It says it is essential that weaknesses in the standard are addressed before an effective endpoint assessment plan can be produced.

The College has concerns that the current cap on apprenticeship funding means that it is not clear how the costs of providing four years of full-time scientific and clinical education, will be met. We have also expressed doubts that it would be feasible, safe or effective for the apprenticeship and integrated Master’s degree to be completed within 48 months, whilst employed in practice.

IfATE is expected to make a formal decision on the optometry apprenticeship proposal in January 2022. All detailed apprenticeship proposals will need to be approved by the GOC

The College’s full consultation responses on the standard and EPA are available here:

 

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