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Objective 1

30 May, 2024

Developing and supporting an inclusive profession that is equipped to provide patient-centred care to every patient

The most important element of our public protection role is in maintaining the integrity of the dental registers. This requires us to ensure that dental education and training across the UK is equipping new dental professionals with the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to provide safe and appropriate care to all patients, considering their diverse needs. In addition to the clinical aspects, education and training should give students a clear understanding of their responsibilities in relation to EDI, encourage them to value diversity and challenge discrimination.

While we assure the knowledge, skills, experience and behaviours of dental professionals, we know little about who is coming into dental education and training (and therefore the register). We want to better understand the characteristics of those on the dental registers and are exploring the extent of our role in setting standards around admissions into dental education and training.  


  • Through the learning outcomes, help equip students and trainees with the skills to deliver appropriate care to all patients and foster an environment where diversity is appreciated and valued
  • Support dental professionals to understand and maintain their legal and ethical obligations in relation to EDI
  • Consider the role of the GDC and the Standards for Education in supporting the diverse needs of students by addressing differential attainment
  • Collaborate with education providers to consider the diversity of admissions into training and educational programs.

What we are doing to achieve our priorities

Embedding the new learning outcomes and Safe Practitioner Framework

We have recently completed a full review of the learning outcomes, which culminated in a new framework being developed – the Safe Practitioner: A framework of behaviours and outcomes for dental professional education – which will take effect from September 2025. These expectations were reviewed through the lens of equality, diversity and inclusion with the help of external experts to ensure the relevant concepts, skills and knowledge and the importance of culture are embedded across the expectations for newly qualified professionals.  

In addition to the expectation to treat all patients with equality, dignity and respect, the new learning outcomes focus on the clinical aspects of diversity – for example the variance in disease presentation across diverse cultural and social groups, and those with protected characteristics, and how this impacts diagnosis, prevention and treatment. It also focuses on cultural identity and sensitivity, for example, regarding recording patients’ medical history. We will start to implement the new learning outcomes and behaviours in all curricula delivered by education providers.

Reviewing the Standards for Education 

The Standards for Education, which set out the requirements that all education and training providers must meet, are currently under review to keep them relevant and updated.

As part of this review, we have identified some EDI considerations which we may include in the scope of the revised standards. These are admissions into dental training and education (as any groups excluded or disadvantaged at entry to training are likely to be underrepresented in the future workforce) and the academic, clinical and wellbeing support offered by providers to students and trainees, including identifying and responding to differential attainment. 

We are engaging with stakeholders, including students, education providers and professional bodies, to gather the views on the issues of widening participation and differential attainment and to help us determine how best to support education providers and trainers to ensure that their criteria and processes for recruitment and admissions are fair and inclusive and are focussed on developing a workforce suitable to deliver appropriate care for all patients.

Setting clear standards and guidance regarding discrimination

One of the current strategic objectives of the GDC is to develop a shared understanding of professionalism across dentistry and to promote professionalism across the dental professions. As part of this work, we are developing principles of professionalism which are designed to underpin professional judgement and decision making. The four principles of professionalism set out essential elements for an effective and supportive work environment, where patients’ dignity, safety and wellbeing are protected.

EDI has been one of the key pillars of our work in developing these principles of professionalism, so that dental professionals would be expected to embed EDI within their decision making and behaviour. 

The principles of professionalism are at the core of a review of our current standards and guidance framework. Different stakeholders, such as patients and professional organisations, have been invited to engage with the GDC throughout 2023 and the beginning of 2024 to explore how we can improve the way standards and guidance are set for dental professionals.

The dynamic approach taken to review the standards and guidance framework will help us identify areas where dental professionals need further guidance. We will develop a range of supporting materials which will help dental professionals understand how the principles of professionalism apply in different contexts, which will include important topics and emerging issues across dentistry, such as EDI. 

In 2025 we will begin a review of our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme. The review will seek to make changes to the CPD requirements to make CPD more meaningful in terms of patient outcomes, emphasising the need to meet the needs of diverse patient populations and provide patient-centred care.