Junior Lawyers Division’s plea comes after stats show law school success scores vary from 29% to 100%
The regulator has dismissed calls by the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) to disclose Legal Practice Course (LPC) provider pass rates after finding huge discrepancies in performance.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) report for the academic year to 31 August 2018 revealed the proportion of students who passed the year-long vocational course ranged from 29% to 100% at 25 postgraduate law schools. The names of the training providers were anonymised.
The SRA stated the reasons for such disparity were “unclear” but cited the size of cohorts: from a group of 16 students to several thousands spread across different locations, academic ability and variable teaching quality as factors influencing success scores.
Julie Brannan, SRA education and training chief, explained why the report data is anonymised:
“It is not appropriate to publish the names of institutions. Institutions set and mark their own assessments so publishing names alongside specific data could create pressures on providers which might impact standards.”
She added that this will no longer be the case under the Solicitors Qualification Exam (SQE), where all candidates will sit the same centrally marked assessments.
Charlotte Parkinson, chair of the JLD, urged the SRA to release the data “before the next intake of students part with their money”. She said:
“The JLD understands that the huge variance in results for the LPC was just one of the reasons the SRA wanted to introduce a centralised qualifying assessment. Accordingly, it is worrying that the SRA seem to be unable to reveal the pass rates for individual organisations.
The cost of the LPC is significant, around £16,690 in central London in 2020, and many students will take a commercial loan to fund the course. Whilst we understand the regulator does not regulate LPC providers, they have a responsibility to ensure that students are able to make an informed choice on an LPC provider, before handing over such a large amount of money for a course that is, currently, a mandatory step to becoming a qualified solicitor.”
The LPC is set to be replaced by the Solicitors Qualification Exam (SQE) from autumn 2021.