The Spectacle Makers’ Company (WCSM) is a City of London Livery Company and a nationally recognised Awarding Organisation for qualifications which are below the level of GOC registration.
The Company was founded in 1629 when there was little more that could be done for people with vision impairment other than to ensure that the spectacles issued to them were fit for use – hence the Company’s name. Today, there are many more services available and patient care is very different but the Company’s purpose has remained exactly the same – to support those who prevent, and treat, vision impairment.
For almost a hundred years, the Company trained and qualified ‘high street opticians’. You may still see the qualifications ‘FSMC’ and ‘SMC(Disp)’ displayed in some optical practices today. In the 1980s the Company played a prominent role in the establishment of the College of Optometrists and the Association of British Dispensing Opticians. Since that time, it has focused on developing knowledge and skills among optical technicians, optical assistants and other support staff.
Members of the Company include people training in optical professions, dispensing opticians, optometrists, orthoptists, ophthalmologists and researchers – even world-leading experts in vision science. Through those members and through these qualifications, WCSM remains at the heart of a craft that every day change people’s lives.
Since 2015, ABDO College has been providing training courses aimed specifically at WCSM qualifications. The courses operate through distance learning and are designed to support people who are training at the same time as working in an optical environment.
WCSM remains the awarding body. It sets the syllabus for each qualification and awards final certificates of achievement to those who pass its examinations. Successful candidates can be presented with their certificates and diplomas in a special Presentation Ceremony held by WCSM in October each year in the historic Apothecaries’ Hall, its London home.
WCSM qualifications lay a solid foundation for the development of essential optical skills and open up a clearly defined career pathway for those entering optical professions at the lower levels.