‘End of an era’, says WCSM Master

The last main sittings for the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers (WCSM) examinations for optical assistants at Levels 2 and 3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and at SCQF Levels 5 and 7 in Scotland, will be in December 2019.

Current candidates expecting to sit examinations in June and December 2019 will not be affected and three resit opportunities will be offered to give individuals time to complete their qualifications, the WCSM confirmed.

Level 4 Diploma courses for optical technicians and optical assistants, leading to the SMC (Tech) and SMC (OA) awards, will continue to be available from ABDO College. It is anticipated that ABDO will take on the role of awarding body for these two nationally-recognised qualifications. ABDO College’s new introductory course for optical assistants will not involve examinations and will not be regulated by Ofqual.

Commenting on the changes, WCSM Master, John McGregor, said: “The world has changed and it is right that we should move with it. Our qualifications were an important step in gaining recognition for the vital part played by optical assistants and technicians in High Street practices. Those who have passed a WCSM qualification are rightly proud of what they have achieved….The time has now come for others to take on the important task of equipping assistants and technicians for what lies ahead.”

John added: “WCSM was not originally established as an educational institution but as a body to support the cause of better vision much more widely. We will now be able to do more to encourage training at all levels and increase our focus on supporting new entrants to the optical professions, for example via our highly successful bursary schemes, the dissemination of scientific advance in vision care through our travel awards and the recognition of excellence in research via our medal programmes.”