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Monitoring dental education programmes

15 December, 2022

Targeted monitoring

In the 2020/21 academic year, we adapted our monitoring processes to target areas of greatest concern caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, publishing a statement about this on the GDC website (Quality assurance in light of COVID-19). This sought assurance of adequate provision of clinical experience for all students. We focused on Requirements 13 and 15 which are particularly concerned with the depth and breadth of clinical experience for final year students. Further to discussions and close working with education providers in 2020, we identified that the highest risk categories were BDS and hygiene and therapy programmes. We therefore focussed targeted work on providers of these programmes. 

In 2020/21 we gained assurance from 31 providers that the graduating students would be of the required standards. Training in one DHT course was extended in order to gain this assurance, and this was gained by autumn 2021. Five programmes delivered in Scotland, delayed graduation by one year. This was a decision of the Scottish government, and these programmes were then subject to targeted monitoring at the point of graduation. 

In 2021/22 a two-stage process was used. The first relates to 2020/21 BDS students who did not graduate in summer 2020/21. This covered 27 individuals from eight programmes in six dental schools. Due to the small number of students, we sought assurance from their dental schools that they would meet the standards prior to graduation. All 27 students achieved the required learning outcomes and were able to graduate by the end of 2021. 
The second stage of the process in 2021/22, was to repeat the targeted quality assurance activities for BDS and DHT programmes for the next cohort of students. The prime objective was to gain assurance that students would continue to graduate as safe practitioners as the challenges posed by the pandemic during 2021 continued to impact the delivery of education and training programmes and student experience. 

Throughout the year, we worked with key stakeholders and taking into consideration the feedback received, we revised the process for conducting targeted QA activity of BDS and DHT education programmes in 2021-2022. The findings and recommendations from this feedback were shared with the stakeholders involved.

Between March and July of 2022, we carried out targeted monitoring of fifteen BDS and fifteen DHT programmes. Providers were required to complete an online questionnaire and submit supporting documentation, which evidenced how they are meeting Requirements 13 and 15. The monitoring results were satisfactory for all of these programmes, meaning that, in line with our risk-based approach, no education provider needed to be inspected. 

Students undertaking four programmes in 2021/22 graduated in late 2022. We will complete targeted monitoring of these programmes in late 2022 and report on this in the next Review of Education.

Risk Based Monitoring Activity

In 2021/22 regular monitoring of DCP programmes was undertaken with education providers and awarding organisations. We quality assure education providers to ensure that the Standards for Education are being met. In contrast, we quality assure awarding organisations to ensure that they are effectively quality managing their education providers and can assure us that the Standards for Education are met. 

Monitoring DCP Education Provider Programmes

In 2020, a stakeholder group was formed which included representation from a variety of dental disciplines. This group was tasked with reviewing the 2019-2020 monitoring survey with the aim and intention of making improvements to the process for future monitoring of QA activity. 

A number of improvements have been made as a result. The questions within the survey were reviewed and the evidence request refined. In addition, student questionnaires were introduced as part of the 2021-2022 monitoring activity.

We have also introduced a new online survey platform, which enables providers to upload supporting evidence relating to each of the requirements.

Prior to commencement of the 2021-2022 monitoring, we discussed the changes with providers to gather feedback and ensure that they were understood. 

We also refined our monitoring matrix that uses our inspector feedback to determine the level of risk and whether an inspection is required. 

In the 2021-2022 academic year, six DCP education and training providers were monitored as set out in the table below.   
Dental Hygiene and Therapy (HT)Dental Technology (DT)Dental Nursing (DN)
2 programmes2 programmes2 programmes

Three of the six programmes were subject to follow up monitoring as an action from the previous year’s quality assurance activity. The remaining three programmes were monitored due to time elapsed since the last QA activity we conducted with them. 

The outcomes of the risk-based monitoring activity are shown in the table below. Of the 6 programmes monitored in the 2021-2022 period, we determined that four programmes would be inspected, with the remaining two to be subject to regular monitoring. The inspections for the four programmes will take place in the 2022-2023 academic year.

 Dental Hygiene and Therapy (HT)Dental Technology (DT)Dental Nursing (DN)
Regular Monitoring2 programmes--
Inspection-2 programmes2 programmes

Monitoring Awarding Organisations

In the 2021-2022 academic year, the monitoring of organisations awarding qualifications was conducted separately to education providers. We utilised a revised questionnaire which was more appropriate and relevant for these providers. 

Between April and June 2022, we monitored six awarding organisations. 

The table below sets out the number of awarding organisations who were required to return the monitoring form during this period, by discipline. 

Dental Technology (DT)Dental Nursing (DN)
2 awarding organisations4 awarding organisations

The outcomes of monitoring awarding organisations will be reported in next year’s Review of Education (2022-2023), once all stages of the process are complete.