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Don’t let students sit exams at home, SRA tells law schools

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Regulator says supervised assessments must be maintained

The strict rules regarding exam supervision cannot be relaxed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the solicitors’ watchdog has said.

With many law schools exploring options that could see students sit assessments online from the comfort of their homes, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has today stressed that standards must be maintained — even if this creates delays.

“We have been in touch with training providers to confirm that supervised assessments should be maintained, where they are required,” a spokesperson for the regulator said. “It’s important that supervision is in place to ensure integrity and security and we recognise this might mean some assessments could be delayed.”

The 2019 Legal Cheek LPC Most List

They added: “We don’t specify the form that assessments for the QLD and GDL should take, so it’s a matter for the providers to consider what arrangements are best in the current circumstances.”

The regulator also said there is “no indication” that the outbreak will impact the Solicitors Qualifying Exam, which is set to replace both the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) when it comes into force next September.

The SRA’s comments come just hours after the Bar Standards Board confirmed it had postponed all centralised assessments on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). The exams — civil litigation, criminal litigation and professional ethics — were due to take place next month.

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33 Comments

Anonymous

http://tiny.cc/LPCStudentLetterSRA

http://tiny.cc/LPCStudentForm

There is currently a LPC petition going round if anyone would like to sign!

(22)(1)

Anon

Signed

(1)(0)

Anon

Nah can’t be arsed

(1)(0)

Pleading LPC student

Please don’t send this yet. I have had an email from my LPC provider to say that they, together with 9 other providers, have drafted a strongly worded letter to the SRA to be sent today basically asking them to reconsider their position. The SRA have a meeting booked to consider the letter.

I know you have good intentions, but please at least hold off on sending until we know what the outcome is from this letter. We don’t want to jeopardise anything the universities are doing, as we all know the SRA are more likely to listen to them than they are to the students.

(0)(0)

Anon

It’s like the SRA are trying to be as incompetent as possible.

“It’s important that supervision is in place to ensure integrity”

The LPC has never been about integrity, if it were it wouldn’t cost so much, be so easy, and contribute so little.

(88)(1)

Anonymous

Are these idiots trying to make this pandemic worse? There is currently a very real fear that the NHS will be overloaded and their not willing to at least consider measures to lower the risk of infection. There are students with respiratory conditions whose lives could be at risk because of this.

(47)(2)

Dana

Agreed, as someone with an autoimmune disease who has to take medications daily to suppress my immune system, I take the threat of the coronavirus seriously.

(21)(0)

Danny Roberts

This response by the SRA shows a mind boggling lack of care for law students, their families, or society at large. Those who made the decision to announce they will force invigilated examinations on providers should resign immediately.

If any student contracts Covid-19 whilst during an examination it will be the fault of the SRA. I trust that providers are using their legal expertise to push back at the SRA.

The SRA are forcing procedures that they know will perpetuate the spreading of Covid-19 and should be fully liable for anything going wrong. They cannot just pass this on to the providers and let them take the risk.

Once this is over the government should stop attacking the Supreme Court and move and am their fire at the SRA. The SRA disgust me.

(18)(1)

Danny Roberts

This response by the SRA shows a mind boggling lack of care for law students, their families, or society at large. Those who made the decision to announce they will force invigilated examinations on providers should resign immediately.

If any student contracts Covid-19 whilst during an examination it will be the fault of the SRA. I trust that providers are using their legal expertise to push back at the SRA.

The SRA are forcing procedures that they know will perpetuate the spreading of Covid-19 and should be fully liable for anything going wrong. They cannot just pass this on to the providers and let them take the risk.

Once this is over the government should stop attacking the Supreme Court and aim their fire at the SRA. The SRA disgust me.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

What alternative solutions do they propose?

(4)(0)

new regulator needed

None of course. They hate solicitors and the profession, they don’t do solutions, only flout all government advice and commonsense.

(17)(1)

Read!

Do you people read?

“It’s important that supervision is in place to ensure integrity and security and we recognise this might mean some assessments could be delayed.”

This means that assessments will be postponed. No one will be put at risk.

(20)(8)

Annie

Totally agree with writer at 2:21pm in March 18. Moreover the idea of home exams are ridiculous – the veracity and weight of which will come back to haunt those who seem to want them. Best to delay assessments. Not the best solution, but better than home exams!

(7)(11)

Anonymous

Delay until when? We could still be in the same position in a year’s time

(9)(1)

to annie

This means delaying the whole 2020 intake for the city firms – until results are not out, most firms do not allow trainees to start. Meanwhile LLB students will continue to graduate, what do you propose is done with all those graduates while the LPC is clogged? Not to mention, full-time LPC students have already completed the core modules and some skills, leaving mostly electives, is it really fair delaying their start for something they will most likely not even use in practice? Having reached this stage of their careers, specially those waiting to start their TC have already shown they have what it takes (in terms of academics) to become lawyers – delaying their career for 3 exams after the dozens of exams they have taken already sat is simply ridiculous

(26)(2)

Anon

In a pandemic, life isn’t fair.

(1)(9)

Anon

Ok, boomer

No Munters Please

You’ve done nothing to prove you have what it takes other than go through a selection process, receive someone’s approval and sit some exams.

Maybe when you’ve been practising for 5 years you will have proved something.

All you’ve done this far is to succeed is winning the selection process popularity contest; Quelle Surprise so many female trainees in City firms are very attractive, they must all be geniuses, right?

(4)(6)

Danny Roberts

We are working on different time-scales here. The Covid-19 pandemic is being predicted to last many months. The SRA as concerned that the the integrity of the exams must be protected even, as they say, it might mean a ‘delay’.

Postponement is the only solution to the Covid-19 outbreak of course, but it is a postponement that will have to be for many months, possibly even a year. Perhaps this is what the SRA mean by a ‘delay’ but I don’t think so.

Get it right, the SRA do not want exams taken from home and, by extension, will not accept extended essays completed at home. They want providers to run invigilated exams and have not indicated anything about safety for the students when this year’s exams take place, if they take place at all.

(5)(2)

nony-mouse

(1)(0)

MT

Completely agree with you. We have to be fair and not direct our anger towards the authorities. We should read carefully before commenting. I am sure the universities will do what’s best for all in the circumstances. Good Luck and Good Health!

(0)(0)

Natalie

Yes! Exactly! Where on earth does it say that people will be forced to sit exams while the pandemic is ongoing?! NOWHERE. I don’t understand why people are getting their knickers in a twist if they’ve read the article properly. Home examinations bring with it risks of academic misconduct and the threat of being accused of cheating even if all guidelines have been followed. They do not provide any protection against such accusations. It’s seems that, where possible, my own university will be using written assessments instead of the planned exams. Do I want to write another couple of 3,000 word assignments? Nope. But do I want to get my degree on time and be protected against accusations of academic misconduct? Absolutely, yes!

(2)(1)

Natalie

This was meant to be a reply to the person who posted at 2.21pm btw asking ‘Do you people read?’

(0)(0)

I promise not to paraphrase wikipedia

SRA needs to sued.

(6)(2)

Danny Roberts

I think the decision has been taken out of the hands of the SRA.

There will be lock-down in London soon and then throughout the UK. This is inevitable.

Perhaps we could start a letter:

Dear SRA,

Given your crass and stupid reluctance to change your assessment requirements in the face of overwhelming evidence that examinations will not be possible this year, do you think your complete incompetence should lead to you all resigning?

Yours etc.

(1)(1)

Anon

does this applying to QLDs too?

(0)(0)

Natalie

The article says: “We don’t specify the form that assessments for the QLD and GDL should take, so it’s a matter for the providers to consider what arrangements are best in the current circumstances.”

(0)(0)

Disgruntled

For a regulator that is trying to introduce a Mickey Mouse Multiple Choice course in roughly a years’ time, its laughable that they even try to defend their position by stating take home exams are not rigorous or conducive of integrity.

The letter, by the way, lacks all persuasiveness. Put in some headers, some actual bite and remove the grovelling; the letter should be as close to a pre-action letter as possible.

(11)(0)

Toto

The SRA would have us students do exams even if we were shitting our virus addled brains out.

(0)(0)

anon

Does anyone know what the position is if you want to go the Bar? As I understand it, the SRA is currently regulating the academic component of education for themselves and on behalf of the Bar Standards Board? I think it’s fair to say regardless of which route I take my GDL has gone down the pan.

(0)(0)

Natalie

The article says: “We don’t specify the form that assessments for the QLD and GDL should take, so it’s a matter for the providers to consider what arrangements are best in the current circumstances.”

(0)(2)

LPCer

Delaying exams for the sake of preserving ‘their integrity’ does not make sense when you consider that half of those doing the LPC at the likes of University of Law do so in open book conditions.

You can implement take home assessments that are timed using software such as Exemplify which does not allow you to use the internet or open anything else on your computer (and audits your use of the program). Alternatively, universities like LSE are implementing remote assessments whereby students will have to show that they are not cheating through video. It can be done.

If it’s not, the cost to students in having to delay starting their TC and thus needing to find money to support themselves, or alternatively doing exams whilst starting as trainees will be too burdensome.

(8)(0)

Trainee

I think the SRA needs to be more clear on the reasons why they are not allowing remote exams. Preserving the “integrity” of the exam just isn’t a good enough reason when you have the University of Law running open-book exams anyway.

It is making it very difficult to see why delaying the exams is the favourable option when you consider how much disruption this could cause (student visas, training contracts, post-graduate courses, finances, recruitment for further years, leases expiring etc.)

All of this is made even more difficult with these delays potentially being for over a year, and then you have course providers having to deal with a whole new batch of students and delivering the SQE at the same time.

(5)(0)

Comments are closed.

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