The introduction of an aptitude test for prospective Bar students may be premature – and in any case fails to address the “real issue” – the Law Society has told the Bar Standards Board (BSB).
Responding to a BSB consultation, the society said that while a test might support the stated aims of improving the student experience and raising standards on entry to and exit from the Bar professional training course (BPTC), “this is a relatively minor benefit to be derived from an expensive additional hurdle”.
The real issue, it argued, is “the mismatch between the numbers of students passing the BPTC and the number of available pupilages”.
The society said its own investigation into an
aptitude test concluded it would not significantly reduce the number of students graduating from the course – because the test only weeds out those would probably have failed it – and competing for training contracts or pupilages.
It continued: “In light of these findings the society decided that rather than pursuing the introduction of an aptitude test, it would feed the findings of the report into the current Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) by the legal regulators as it was felt that the evidence presented in the report confirms that a full examination of the current vocational stage is essential. This would include a review of entry requirements for the legal practice course and an evaluation of the standards required by the regulator.
“The BSB may wish to consider whether the timing of this consultation and the introduction of the [aptitude test] is appropriate with the LETR ongoing, which will most likely alter the landscape of education and training. The move to implement aptitude testing may be considered to be premature in these circumstances.”