Education Update

Issued 27 August 2020

Update regarding Approval and Monitoring

The Education Department in CORU continues to monitor the evolving situation surrounding COVID-19 and is guided by the information, advice and guidelines issued by the Government.

We will continue to prioritise the health and well-being of our staff, our review team members and the staff, students and other stakeholders in Higher Education Institutions. This will involve working with all stakeholders participating in Approval and Monitoring activities as they work remotely. 

At this time, changes are necessary to the way we conduct our Approval and Monitoring processes to ensure that we continue to deliver on our statutory obligations as set out in Part 5 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (as amended)

All visits to Institutions will be conducted virtually and meetings previously held in person, before and during visits, will now take place remotely using video conferencing until further notice. We understand that organising and participating in remote meetings can be challenging. We will work closely with individual Institutions and provide guidance and support on how remote meetings will operate.     

To protect the robustness of the process and support stakeholders participating in multiple sessions it is expected that virtual visits to Institutions will not run as standard over 2-3 full days. Virtual visits will involve fewer hours per day and extend over additional days. We will liaise with individual Institutions to identify mutually agreeable schedules.  

You are welcome to contact us at education@coru.ie if you have any queries regarding upcoming Approval or Monitoring Activity events.

Issued 28 May 2020

Opening of Social Care Workers Registration Board

The Social Care Workers Registration Board has decided that the opening of the Social Care Workers Register, which it had hoped to open in 2022, will now open in 2023.

While 2022 was an indicative opening date due to the complexity of the work being undertaken to implement a statutory registration process, the Board recognises that the one year deferral in opening the register will be met with disappointment by those currently working in the profession and by new entrants. The decision to defer the opening of the Register was not taken lightly and only after considerable deliberation by the Board at an emergency meeting on the 18th of May, 2020.

The deferral is regrettable but is unavoidable due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Board’s ability to continue with the approval of Social Care Professionals’ education programmes in 2020. The pandemic has resulted in the closure of Educational Institutions, the reduced availability of review teams and uncertainty of how the situation will evolve during the remainder of 2020 and the impact on programmes submitted for approval.

A vital part of assuring public protection is establishing the correct standards for education and training of the profession. The Programme Approval process is the mechanism used by the Board to establish that the correct standards for education and training of the profession are in place and that graduates meet the threshold Standards of Proficiency for the Social Care Profession. It allows the Board to approve qualification titles for listing on the Approved Qualification Bye-Law which provides a route for new entrants into the profession to register. The Board must ensure a fair, consistent and robust approach to programme approval and expects to recommence Programme Approval Activity in 2021.

There is no need for you to do anything. For existing professionals, grandparenting rules will remain the same, 2 years professional practice in the previous 5 years from the date of the Register opening. We are liaising with Educators on the deferral of programme approval and students should contact their Educator with any questions they may have regarding their course of study.

Students and those already working in the profession can also continue to check our website which we will update with any further decisions taken by the Board as they complete the necessary work in preparation for opening the Register.

Ends.

Issued 15 May 2020

COVID-19: Information for education providers

The role of CORU and its Registration Boards is to protect the public. One of the most important ways we do this is by setting standards for education programmes. These standards ensure that graduates possess the required knowledge and skills to practice safely in their chosen profession.

Once a health and social care professional is admitted to one of CORU’s professional registers they become an autonomous practitioner who can practice independently. Unlike other health and social care regulators in Ireland, CORU does not have any post-registration provisions to limit scope of practice or make up for any shortfalls in pre-registration education and training. It is therefore critical to the protection of the public that CORU’s education and training requirements are met. They ensure that graduates completing an approved programme are safe to practise and can operate as an autonomous practitioner. Currently CORU is responsible for the approval and monitoring of over 50 programmes, leading to qualifications that allow graduates to apply to be statutory registered in their professions. Ten Registration Boards are responsible for courses for 12 professions currently.

CORU recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting challenges for some educators delivering CORU approved professional education and training programmes. This has resulted in education providers being required to make changes to programmes which have previously been approved by a Registration Board.

CORU must continue to deliver upon its role of protecting the public and therefore must ensure that our education standards continue to be met by all providers delivering approved education programmes. We expect educators to ensure that their programmes, following any changes they are required to make, continue to meet our education standards. However, we also wish to reassure educators that there is flexibility in how the criteria and standards are met.

Working with education providers

CORU began communicating with all education providers in early March. We have acknowledged that they are best placed to implement contingency plans for their relevant programmes.

As a result, we understand that most of them have implemented contingency plans to address the challenges presented by the COVID-19 emergency. A small number of providers have expressed concern regarding their ability to continue to meet the relevant Board’s requirements, particularly as it related to the practice placement requirements. CORU contacted those individual education providers and provided that additional clarification to ensure that their programme which the 2020 cohort of students is completing meets the relevant criteria and Standards of Proficiency.

During this communication we have learned that many education providers are availing of the flexibility available to them in the Placement Criteria and engaging with other agencies and mechanisms to ensure placement hours are met.

Our next steps

We are aware that the COVID-19 national emergency is having a longer term impact and the next task is to ensure that the students completing the 2021 programme are also at the standard required for registration for the relevant profession.

CORU is contacting all providers of approved education programmes during the month of May. CORU will ask each provider to outline any changes that have been made to an approved programme and the steps that are being taken to ensure that the programme continues to meet the relevant Board’s requirements.

The responses of each education provider will be brought to the relevant Registration Board to ensure that its education standards will continue to be met and that any changes will not represent a risk to the public. If the Board is satisfied, then the provider may continue with its planned changes and its status as an approved programme will be unaltered. However, if a risk is identified, the Board will ask a provider to address the problems it has identified. Ultimately, if these are not addressed, the Board may decide to monitor the programme under section 49 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (as amended) and consider its approved status.

What this means for your students

We understand that students are experiencing significant disruption to their studies, particularly those in their final and penultimate years of study.

We recognise that they are anxious and eager to continue their education programme and join their relevant professions on the front line, especially during these difficult times.

However, it is critical that the qualifications awarded to each student meets the standard required for the protection of the public. We are communicating closely with the education providers to provide the necessary guidance to help them progress with the delivery and assessment of all components of the programme. Students should stay in close contact with their education programme team to ensure you are up to date with changes that are being made to your programme.

Issued 13 March 2020

COVID-19: Information for education providers

We understand that many education providers and placement providers are implementing contingency plans to address the challenges presented by COVID-19.

We appreciate that these challenges may result in a need to depart from established procedures of running education and training programmes. In this instance, we acknowledge, that you, as the Education Provider is best placed to implement contingency plans to address the academic and clinical requirements of your students.

The relevant Registration Board’s Criteria for Education and Training programmes are used to ensure that programmes have systems in place to consistently and effectively produce graduates who meet the standards of proficiency for entry to the register. Therefore, as you adapt your plans in managing the risks associated with COVID-19, you must ensure that any such changes do not prevent learners from attaining the standards of proficiency upon graduation.   

At this stage it is not a requirement to notify us of the changes you put in place. 

As the function of the Registration Board is to protect the public, it is essential that the public are assured that all registered professionals have completed a programme meeting the threshold Criteria for Education and Training programmes and have confidence that the registrant meet the Standards of Proficiency for that profession.