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Home > Education > Our standards > Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question? See if it is answered below.

For further information feel free to visit our guidance page or contact the Education department.



Why are the standards changing?

When the standards were last published in 2009, Social workers, Practitioner Psychologists and Hearing Aid Dispensers were not yet part of the HCPC Register. The makeup of our register has changed from being almost exclusively Allied Health professions to include care and psychological professions. We regularly review all of our standards to ensure that they remain effective and fit for purpose for all the professions we regulate, are well understood by our stakeholders and the public, and take account of change including changes in practice, legislation, technology, guidelines and wider society.

How were the changes made?

There are a number of ways in which the changes were made. When we reviewed and made changes to the SETS we:

  • Considered outcomes from HCPC commissioned research examining the nature and extent of interprofessional education in approved programmes and the role of the SETs in ensuring newly qualified professionals are prepared for practice.
  • Sought the views of stakeholders, including education providers, registrants (including newly qualified professionals), service users and carers, commissioners, professional bodies, HCPC partner visitors, HCPC employees (policy and education).
  • Formed a Professional Liaison Group (PLG) consisting of Council members and representatives from key stakeholder groups. The PLG met frequently over a six month period to discuss themes emerging from the review, and informed the drafting of the revised SETs and supporting guidance.
  • Ran a public consultation on the draft standards and supporting guidance, analysed the responses to this consultation, and made updates accordingly.
  • The Council made final decisions on changes to the SETs.

What are the key changes?

We have introduced new standards requiring interprofessional learning (4.9), availability and capacity of practice based learning (3.6), support to enable learners to raise concerns about the safety of service users (3.17) and learner involvement in the programme (3.8).

We have also made changes to existing standards by strengthening how the expectations of professional behaviour (including our standards of conduct, performance and ethics) are embedded into curriculum and assessment. Changes to existing standards also include an update to the terminology to ensure the standards are broad, inclusive and up to date.

The overall number of standards have reduced. Have the requirements been relaxed?

No, although the number of standards have been reduced from 58 to 52 we have not relaxed our requirements. Instead we have consolidated similar existing standards.

Do we have to use the new terminology adopted by the HCPC?

No. Education providers can choose to use the terminology they feel most comfortable with. We have changed our terminology to ensure that it is broad inclusive and up to date. Throughout the SETs guidance document we define the terms that we use. There is also a glossary at the end of the guidance document.

Can we demonstrate that interprofessional learning takes place through practice-based learning?

Maybe. If an education provider demonstrates interprofessional learning in this way they must demonstrate that the programme will enable all learners to learn with and from other learners and professionals in other relevant professions within their practice based-learning areas. There has to be a process in place to ensure that all the learners get the opportunity to learn from and with others in relevant professions throughout their practice-based learning experience. The education provider will have to define which professional groups these learners will be learning with, and from and why these other professional groups are appropriate for the profession and the learners on the programme.

There are new requirements for embedding the expectations of professional behaviour into our programmes (4.2 and 6.2). Are we required to map the standards of conduct, performance and ethics (SCPEs) as we map the other Standards (Standards of proficiency and standards of education and training)?

It is not a requirement to map the SCPEs, and this is solely the education provider’s decision to make. Education providers must demonstrate how they will embed the expectations of professional behaviour including the SCPEs into the curriculum and assessment. There are broad areas in the SCPEs. We would expect all of these areas, to some extent, to be demonstrably delivered and assessed throughout the programme.

How has the programme leader standard changed?

Our previous standard (3.4) required us to make a decision that the nominated professional lead was appropriate to lead the programme. This led to a high number of ‘major changes’ to programmes when the programme leader changed. The revised standard (3.3) ensures that the education provider’s processes ensure that the nominated individual is appropriate to lead the programme. Education providers however must keep notifying us of these changes for the 2017-18 academic year via the major change process. Moving forward, education providers will need to demonstrate how they now meet this standard through the annual monitoring (from 2018-19 academic year), major change (from 2018-19 academic year) and approval process (from 2017-18 academic year).

Who will be making the decisions about whether we meet the revised standards and how will decisions be made consistently?

We always have at least one professional expert assessing the programme. All newly appointed visitors are required to attend two days of training and from then on, refresher visitor training every two years. Additionally we have created a guidance document for visitors on how they could assess programmes against the revised standards. This ensures all visitors have received appropriate training on the revised standards.

Our standards are flexible across the 16 professions we regulate and education providers can meet them in many different ways. We also have a variety of ways in which we ensure there is parity across the professions and programmes.

When will we have to demonstrate that we meet the revised standards?

This is dependent on the whether the programme is currently approved or seeking approval.

  • For the approval process all pre-registration programmes visited on or after 1 September 2017 will be reviewed against the revised SETs
  • For the annual monitoring process existing programmes will be assessed against the revised SETs via the annual monitoring process in the 2018-19 or 2019-20 academic year (depending on which cycle they are part of). When we inform education providers of our monitoring requirements in these years, we will provide specific information about is required regarding the revised SETs.
  • For the major change process from the 2018-19 academic year, we will assess all major changes to existing programmes against the revised SETs.

By the year 2020-21 academic year we expect that all pre-registration programmes will have implemented the revised standards.

Are Social workers in England expected to meet the revised standards even though we are moving to a new regulator?

Yes. As with all new programmes, any new social work programme must meet the revised SETs to be approved. The HCPC will continue with our processes as usual until we have confirmed dates social work is moving to a new regulator.

If we are making changes to the programme now to implement in 2018-19, which standards will our programme be assessed against?

If there are any changes made to the programme, education providers will need to inform us via a change notification form. We will make a decision based on the information provided on a case-by-case basis, whether the changes will be assessed against the previous or revised standards. We will also make a decision about what process (annual monitoring, major change or approval) will be used to assess the changes.

What guidance or support is available to me?

There are a number of ways in which education providers are supported through our processes. These include:

  • A dedicated web page that is regularly updated;
  • A named contact at the HCPC through all our processes;
  • HCPC correspondence including education update; and
  • Peer support from your colleagues


Alternatively, please contact us on 44 (0) 20 7840 9812 or education@hcpc-uk.org if you have any queries.



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