Specsavers apprenticeship scheme achieves outstanding Ofsted rating

The Specsavers Apprenticeship Team are celebrating being awarded an ‘outstanding’ rating by Ofsted, following inspectors having visited several stores across England during July 2023 to assess the national programme.
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In line with Ofsted policy, Specsavers was given just two days’ notice before the inspectors visit selected stores to review the working practices and processes in place. They met with store partners, managers, admin teams and apprentices as part of their review against the inspection criteria standards. Specsavers was one of only eight employer providers to receive an outstanding rating in this inspection cycle and was the only optical retailer graded this highly.

Dena Wyatt, Head of Apprenticeships at Specsavers, says; ‘Congratulations to all my colleagues and apprentices for their hard work, the outstanding grading by Ofsted was the result of amazing teamwork.’

A recent recruit to the Specsavers Apprenticeship Scheme is Luke Hopkinson, 16 years old, who left Joan of Arc Catholic School in Rickmansworth in June, after he had taken his GCSEs. Keen to follow his long-term dream of working in the optics sector, Luke had responded to a local advert offering apprenticeship training at Specsavers Hemel Hempstead.

(Left to right) Specsavers Hemel Hempstead, Laura Gavriloaia, Optical Dispenser, Louise England, Gen(Left to right) Specsavers Hemel Hempstead, Laura Gavriloaia, Optical Dispenser, Louise England, Gen
(Left to right) Specsavers Hemel Hempstead, Laura Gavriloaia, Optical Dispenser, Louise England, Gen

Interviewing well, Luke was offered an apprenticeship and started on his new career path in August. Two months on, he is enjoying the blend of study and in-store training to become a level 3 optical assistant.

Luke says: ‘I enjoy the learning format as it comprises four hours of teaching each week combined with helping customers, carrying out pre-tests, liaising with the on-site laboratory and optometrists, so there is a lot of variety during the day.

‘For anyone considering an apprenticeship scheme, I would tell them to not stress, and have trust in your coaches and the management team, as they’re really supportive and will do the best they can for you.

‘Eventually I would love to consider training as an optometrist, as Specsavers are great at encouraging everyone to advance and progress.’

Store colleague Harry Hutchings completed his apprenticeship programme in November 2022 and is now qualified as an optical advisor. Commenting on his experience, Harry says: ‘The standout for me was how structured the training is, with useful feedback from the training providers, who highlighted areas for development, plus areas I was doing well in.

‘The Hemel store team is large, so I was fortunate in that I learned a lot from each member of the team, including how they approach various daily tasks, deal with customer service enquiries, plus problem solving. I can now progress and study for Certificate 3 and 4, and potentially train as a dispensing optician – so I’m really pleased that in only two years I have achieved all of this.’

Louise England, General Manager, Specsavers Hemel Hempstead says: ‘Luke is doing really well with his apprenticeship role. He performs tasks with enthusiasm and is eager to keep on learning more.

Harry, one of our past apprentices, is progressing in his position as an optical advisor and has a genuine passion for the role. We are proud of all our Apprentices.’

Shane Abbas Bhimani, clinical director of Specsavers Hemel Hempstead, comments: ‘We are delighted that Specsavers has achieved Ofsted outstanding status for Apprenticeships, the structure of combining hands-on experience, classroom and online based learning is fantastic. Our past and present Apprentices are testament to that. We are extremely proud of them!’

Advocates of the National Apprenticeship Scheme, Specsavers Hemel Hempstead currently employ six apprentices in store who work across the optical and laboratory areas of the business.

Dena Wyatt adds: ‘The incredible apprenticeships team work closely with our amazing apprentices, practice colleagues and business owners to coach, guide and develop our apprentices to be the best they can be. They are our pipeline of brilliant talent and part of what makes us so successful.

‘We are very proud to have achieved an outstanding grade, but it does not stop here. We still have so much in the pipeline to make our programmes even better.’

The Apprenticeship Programme provides training in customer service, optical assistants, office support and laboratory technician, and offers a structured programme over an average 15-month timeframe. There is also a degree level apprenticeship which takes around three to four years to complete.

The majority of Specsavers apprenticeships last between 15 -18 months depending on the qualification. Applicants must have a minimum of a grade C or equivalent in Maths to be considered for the level 3 Apprenticeships. To find out more about the apprenticeship scheme and the 200+ opportunities available, please visit the Specsavers website.

You can discuss any eye or hear care queries with the team at Specsavers Hemel Hempstead on 01442 212 141 or you can book an appointment online.