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Dental Foundation Training

Dental Foundation Training (DFT) is the NHS training scheme for graduates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Foundation Dentists (FDs) spend a year in approved practices, working on standard contracts whilst undertaking training. Dental Foundation Training can provide new graduates with a broad overview of career choices and a good understanding of the NHS system.


DFT introduces new graduates to general practice and gives them a protected environment to work in for a year. Each FD has a trainer dentist, officially known as an 'educational supervisor’ (ES), in their practice. In some practices, two dentists may share the ES role. The ES provides the FD with supervision and help whenever it is needed, as well as meeting with the FD for regular tutorials. The ES takes responsibility for the acts and omissions of the FD in NHS terms, but the FD, as a registered dentist, will be liable for their conduct and for patient wellbeing.


The dental foundation training programme is based on a centralised document, the DFT Curriculum. The latest version was published in 2015 and is now the basis for training and for future initiatives linked to DFT. View the updated curriculum on the COPDEND website


Participants on the scheme work with an online portfolio. Formative assessment is extensively used as part of this. A system of ‘satisfactory completion of DFT’ also called ‘review of competence progression or RCP’ is now also in place.


DFT application process

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the following application process takes place each year.




Changes for 2019

COPDEND has decided to make changes to the DFT national recruitment system for this year in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The main change is that applicants will not be allocated to places in two rounds (January and July), but just in one round after finals (June 2019).


Assessments took place in November 2018, so it means a long wait for applicants to know how they have fared, and a relatively short time thereafter to relocate and make contact with the training practice while also trying to have a bit of a holiday. COPDEND's reasoning is that this step will make the system fairer as only those who have actually passed their finals will be allocated to a place, and all have to wait for the same amount of time to find out.


We remain concerned about the time scales; we also believe that this system will make it more difficult to monitor whether there will be enough place numbers available in total. We regularly meet with COPDEND representatives to discuss and improve procedures and express our concerns where issues arise that are not in the interest of applicants.
We are, however, pleased to report that COPDEND has agreed to widen its policy on special circumstances to include caring for small children; applicants with families should from next year be pre-allocated.


Further information

You can find out more about the DFT recruitment process, including example scenarios and Situational Judgement Test (SJT) questions in our Getting Your First Job guide.


Our film 'interviewing for an associate job' includes some helpful, practical advice that can be applied to all job interviews.