Specialist List Assessed Application (SLAA) route - task and finish group developments

In 2019 the GDC set up a task and finish group with key stakeholders including Specialty Advisory Committees (SAC), applicants, the British Dental Association and training and examination providers to identify and oversee opportunities to improve the SLAA process.

The group agreed ten distinct projects for improvement across application, assessment, and appeal parts of the process, which we have systematically been working through.

Developments to date

Application process

  • Specialist list application pack forms have been updated, to make them compliant with changes for EU applicants following the UK’s exit from the EU. 
  • An online application process has been rolled into the wider Registration-led project to move applications online.
  • Application pre-approval support: a pilot project led by Registration to provide applicants with additional support to improve the quality of their applications. The pilot has been signed off and will be implemented in autumn 2021. 

Assessment projects

  • Assessor workshop: tailored training for SAC chairs and members. We developed a presentation deck covering the rules and the processes and held a workshop with SAC chairs in July 2021, with an agreement to hold further workshops/induction sessions for any incoming SAC chairs.
  • Assessor guidance: GDC-led guidance to SAC chairs and members on SLAA processes and rules. The presentation deck developed for workshops will be shared with SAC chairs to cascade to members.
  • Assessor review forms: GDC developed a checklist for SACs to support them in reviewing evidence and mapping it against a CCST curriculum for the relevant specialty. The forms have been provided to SACs for their use, but further discussions are in place about developing a similar form for applicants. 

Appeals process

  • Appeals feedback form: a feedback form from the panel to the SAC to explain their reasons for upholding appeal. The form was developed in consultation with SACs and the appeal panel chair, to improve sharing of information between SACs and the panel. Three feedback forms were completed and shared with SACs prior to suspension of hearings in early 2020.
  • SAC appeal support: an exploration of providing avenues for SACs to engage with the appeal, for example by submitting evidence or participating in the appeal panel. The GDC’s legal team concluded that under the current rules there was no provision for SAC involvement in the appeals process. We have allowed SAC chairs to observe hearings.

Further areas to explore

Employed assessors

The GDC has explored employing assessors as an alternative to the current project of engaging SACs via an MOU. The project is currently on hold, pending the agreement of a revised MoU.

Open access to specialty examinations

The project sits outside the SLAA process but could improve the process for SLAA applicants by providing them with an access to a recognised summative assessment to support their applications. An initial discussion was held with the Faculties and SACs in August 2020, and will be followed up this autumn. 

The SLAA task and finish group meets on average twice a year to report on progress of existing projects and identify new opportunities for improvement. It reports to the SWG.