BPP Law School loses BPTC ethics exam papers during marking process

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Exclusive: Wannabe barristers at London’s Holborn branch could have to re-do the exam in August


BPP Law School staff have been left facing some difficult questions after Bar Profession Training Course (BPTC) examination scripts went missing during the marking process.

Legal Cheek understands that a “small number” of completed ethics papers undertaken by bar students at the law school’s Holborn branch were misplaced between their first and second markings. To ensure accuracy and fairness students’ papers are assessed separately by two markers. Unfortunately for BPP it would appear an issue occurred during the handover and a number have gone missing.

Students who have been affected have been left facing two options. Either accept the result they have received from the first round of marking, or alternatively, undertake the exam again — as a first-sit — in late August. Students have until June, when the BSB exam board meets, to make a decision.

The ethics assessment — as it currently stands — is one of three exams centrally set by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and consists of two sections: the first part is multiple choice questions (MCQs) and the second is short answer questions (SAQs). The two parts are marked separately, with the BSB dealing with the MCQs and the BPTC provider, in this case BPP, handling the SAQs. It is the SAQ sections which have been misplaced.

A BPP Law School spokesperson told Legal Cheek:

We pride ourselves on our excellence, thoroughness and first-class teaching at BPP University and we have apologised to the small number of students affected for an uncharacteristic error of ours. Our students are at the forefront of everything we do and we are working with them in every possible way to ensure they have as much support as they need.

But unfortunately this isn’t where the story ends. Despite staff at both the BSB and BPP knowing what marks students have achieved, those affected will not be privy to this information until they have made a decision on whether to re-take the exam or not.

As a result wannabe barristers are unable to make an informed choice on whether to play it safe, cancel their summer plans, and re-take in August, or alternatively, gamble and take the unknown result the first marker gave them before the papers went missing. Legal Cheek understands that the decision — which was taken by the BSB’s exam board — has not gone down well with a number of students.

Arguing that there was “no perfect solution” a spokesperson for the BSB told Legal Cheek:

BPP University made us aware of the missing exam papers promptly. We appreciate that this is a cause of significant concern for the affected students. We have been working closely with BPP to find a solution which is as fair as possible to all students who took the exam regardless of whether or not their papers were lost. There is no perfect solution in such circumstances. The Exam Board’s approach to the situation reflects the need to balance the fair treatment of all students, and the need to maintain the integrity of the exam process.