By Peter Liver, Chief Operations Director at Legal Futures Associate The College of Legal Practice
The SQE1 results came out on 20 January, with much interest. Well, what has The College of Legal Practice learnt from the first SQE experience?
Firstly, we are so pleased for our founding SQE1 students that passed the assessment, congratulations! The vast majority are now on embarking on our SQE2 preparation course for April’s assessment, so could be a solicitor by the summer! This is a testament to their hard work, particularly when they only started studying with us three months before the exam.
For our students who did not pass the SQE first time, we are working closely with them, and continuing to offer the individual tuition they need to prepare for the next assessment if they are looking to retake SQE1. Our students for this assessment were all full-time and they now have more time to revise and bring their level of legal knowledge across all 13 practice areas up to the required level.
So, what we have learnt about our course? Students have given the College some very positive feedback on the learning. 80% of students would recommend the course to others, and our supervisors had a satisfaction rating of 4.5 out of 5, which was exceptional. In fact, we think that for our diverse cohort, the individual supervision and tuition really made the difference for them to feel confident to take the assessment. We have also already made improvements to the course, based on student feedback, including adding in more MCQs, updating the timetable to reflect the additional time required to learn some practice areas, and building in more time for students to revised and prepare for the assessments.
We have also learnt so much from our students. We know now that our assessments and our MCQs were very similar to the SRA’s so we feel reassured that we can accurately prepare students, and give them the best possible chance of success. I think we all recognise now, with an overall pass rate of 53% that SQE1 is not to be taken lightly, it is a demanding and intensive set of examinations and we have a clear benchmark for our next set of students to ensure that we can prepare them to take the assessment with confidence.
We are looking forward to seeing how our part-time and LLM students will progress for July, the student numbers are still growing considerably for us for this examination and we are excited to be supporting a wide range of working legal professionals, from a range of in-house and legal services organisations, including Marks & Spencer. The flexibility of the part-time course is perfect for students to fit around their work life and other commitments.
More broadly, we are concerned about the differing outcomes for students in the first SQE1 assessment, particularly looking at ethnicity and academic background. We are committed to opening up access to the profession through our courses, which is why they are priced competitively and offer a flexible learning delivery. We are looking closely at understanding the attainment gaps for our own students and seeing how we can help all students achieve, regardless of their background or heritage.
We look forward to learning more from the SRA about the first assessment, in the coming months and of course, putting our expertise in skills-based teaching to use in preparing students for SQE2.
I will leave you with a quote from one of our SQE1 students: “The bank of multiple choice questions provided by the College was substantial, the course and the individual support was great. In hindsight, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do the SQE1 Assessment without taking the course.” College of Legal Practice student who passed SQE1.