Supervision on the Scheme

We have developed a new, more flexible and intuitive system for supervising pre-registration trainees, that continues to uphold the high standards of the Scheme for Registration.

The supervision policy outlined below was developed in 2020 following a GOC consultation on supervision requirements. The policy upholds quality and patient safety whilst allowing a wider range of professionals to be involved in supervision.

The policy applies to all trainees who have enrolled from September 2020. Additionally trainees who had enrolled in 2019-20 but who, by March 2020, had completed either no visits or visit one only.

The changes were developed following a GOC consultation on supervision requirements. They will allow trainees to progress despite the challenges caused by COVID-19. It addresses the changes in practice and service delivery created by the pandemic, and ensures that we can uphold quality and patient safety.

Supervision types

Each trainee needs to have a principal supervisor. This must be an optometrist with at least two years continuous registration with the GOC. The principal supervisor has overall responsibility for a trainee’s supervision, and can supervise up to three trainees at a time (as long as no more than two of their trainees are at the same stage of the Scheme). Trainees can also have additional supervisors. These replace the secondary and temporary supervisor roles.

Find out more about the principal supervisor and additional supervisor roles below.

A principal supervisor:

  • is the registered supervisor for a trainee at the point that they register or enrol on the Scheme,
  • takes overall responsibility for their trainee’s supervised practice
  • manages all supervision arrangements for an individual trainee, including the safe, appropriate input of additional supervisors,
  • can supervise up to three trainees (as long as no more than two of their trainees are at the same stage of the Scheme),
  • must supervise for at least 50% of each trainee’s total practice time.

To become a principal supervisor, you must:

Joint principal supervisors
Two optometrists who meet the criteria above can share the role of principal supervisor equally (50% of supervision time) for one trainee. Both principal supervisors must register with the College when the trainee registers or enrols.

Additional supervisors are regulated eye health practitioners, with at least two years’ post-qualification experience, who can contribute to a trainee’s supervision. These could include optometrists, dispensing opticians, contact lens opticians, orthoptists, ophthalmic nurses and ophthalmologists. This will allow greater flexibility, and use the skills, expertise, and experience of colleagues from across the eye care sector.

Principal supervisors retain overall responsibility for ensuring that additional supervision is appropriate.

Additional supervisors who are not optometrists only have clinical responsibility for a specific activity, for example, a dispensing optician supervising dispensing. They will not need to be formally registered with the College. Trainees will record the names and registration details of additional supervisors in their logbook with sign-off from their principal supervisor. College assessors will also check these arrangements.

Additional supervisors replace temporary and secondary supervisors, and must:

  • be an eye care professional, with at least two years’ continuous registration with the relevant regulator,
  • be sufficiently qualified, experienced and current in their scope of practice to undertake the functions they are supervising
  • comply with the GOC’s code of conduct, and/or equivalent regulator conduct standards, in their professional practice
  • be a College member, if they are an optometrist
  • be in a position to oversee the work undertaken by the trainee, and intervene, if required, to maintain patient safety
  • comply with all legal requirements relating to the activity that they are supervising.

Principal supervisors are responsible for ensuring that additional supervisors fulfil the above criteria.

Registering a principal supervisor

If a trainee has not yet registered for the Scheme, they will be asked to choose a principal supervisor, or joint principal supervisors, when they enrol.

Current pre-registration trainees do not need to update their supervision arrangements, but can choose to if they wish in the My College area.

Once you have confirmed your principal supervisor, you should record your additional supervisors in the My College area. 

Accepting a trainee

For a supervisor to accept a trainee, they must follow these steps:

  1. Login to the College’s website
  2. Click “My College” at the top of the page
  3. Click on the Scheme for Registration
  4. Click on Trainee
  5. Click the trainee name and accept.

Frequently asked questions

Can a trainee have more than one principal supervisor?

Trainees can divide their supervision equally between two joint principal supervisors, as long as they both meet the principal supervisor criteria above.

What should a trainee do if they need to change their principal supervisor during their pre-registration year?

Once enrolled, trainees can update their supervision arrangements in their ‘my trainee page’.

Will trainees need to register additional supervisors with the College?

No, trainees will only need to register their principal supervisor/s with the College. Principal supervisors will need to approve all additional supervisors, and each one will need to be noted in the trainee’s logbook.

Can a trainee add additional supervisors during their pre-registration year?

Yes, but we recommend that you plan ahead as far as possible and ensure that you have additional but you should try and plan ahead and ensure that all additional supervisors are listed at the beginning of the year.

Why do additional supervisors need two years of continuous registration with a regulator?

The GOC now requires that all supervisors must have two years of continuous registration with a regulator.

Can a principal supervisor be an additional supervisor for another trainee?

Yes, however, no supervisor should be responsible for more than three trainees at one time.

Is there a limit to the number of additional supervisors a trainee can have?

There is no limit, however we recommend that principal supervisors consider how much active supervision an individual is doing for their trainee.

Is there a limit to the number of trainees an additional supervisor can supervise on a day?

Yes. No supervisor should be responsible for more than three trainees at any time.

What does this mean for temporary supervisors?

We no longer have temporary or secondary supervisors – these are replaced with the additional supervisor role. We recommend trainees have at least one of their additional supervisors signed off by their principal supervisor, as soon as they start.

We encourage trainees and supervisors to be proactive in setting up additional supervision arrangements, to avoid having to make last minute decisions in cases of unexpected illness.