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Regulator apologises to BPTC students following exam booking chaos

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Some spent several hours on the line only to be hung up on or told to call back later

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has apologised after some bar school students were unable to book their places at test centres.

“Arranging to deliver these exams under current conditions is a challenging task and we apologise to those students who have experienced difficulty making their bookings,” the BSB said in a statement released yesterday.

The BSB has also pushed back today’s general opening of test centre bookings until Monday, to give more time for those needing reasonable adjustments to book in first.

The centralised Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) assessments — litigation, criminal litigation and professional ethics — were due to take place in April but will now take place next month under remote online supervision. Candidates who require reasonable adjustments were told they would be given priority access to a physical test centre instead.

But some students needing reasonable adjustments were unable to enrol after problems with the telephone booking system. Some spent several hours on the line only to be hung up on or told to call back later. One BPTC student tweeted that she was kept on hold for hours and told to call an international number which charged £3 a minute.

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Others have also revealed that they’ve been allocated early morning exams in test centres far away from their homes, and in some cases in completely different cities.

The BSB then apologised and switched to email bookings for those with agreed adjustments.

In the statement released yesterday, however, the BSB said that it was making “good progress” with exam bookings overall since deciding to move to mostly online assessments for the BPTC in response to COVID-19.

The regulator explained that not all students are sitting all three assessments but in all 6,487 bookings need to be made of which 871 require reasonable adjustments to sit their exams. 4,300 bookings have been made so far, of which 338 have been made by those with agreed reasonable adjustments.

The regulator’s decision to move exams online has previously been challenged by students.

In an open letter to the BSB last month, ‘Students Against The BSB Exam Regulations’ (SABER) alleged the new format is “discriminatory” and “unfair”, particularly towards disabled people, women and those with caring responsibilities.

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6 Comments

Practising Barrister

A time will come when people realise that this entire educational system, which has not changed for centuries is a facade. Its just a moneymaking business that has sent people chasing for grades, etc, and skills which do not really help them in the actual job.

(6)(0)

Procedure Hurts

To anyone reading this who intends on coming to the Bar – I encourage you, sincerely, only to consider doing the Bar course with the ICCA (Inns of Court College of Advocacy) that is launching its first Bar course year in September.

You only need to look at the ICCA’s Bar course programme to know that, finally, there is a provider in town who understands that the Bar course is a year to endure and that the provider’s job is to make it as pain-free and inexpensive as possible.

Crucially, ICCA is going to do all of the teaching for Civil Procedure and Criminal Procedure in the first term. You do the exams, and get all that stuff out of the way. Remote teaching, no need to pay rent somewhere if you don’t live near a provider, and getting the most brain-numbing bit of the course out of the way.

For as long as the BSB insists (ludicrously) that Civil and Criminal Procedure exams should be majority closed-book, the only logical option is to rip the plaster off and do it in a oner in your first term. Don’t pick a provider that sticks to the current method, where you’re drip-fed procedure over the course of 5+ tortuous months and then have to cram the exams in a panic whilst juggling pupillage interviews and skills-based exams (and jobs/life on top).

(5)(1)

Procedure Hurts

The ICCA has disrupted the London provider market which is by far the biggest. Its website makes absolutely clear what each stage of their Bar course entails – the first term is only £1000 (excluding BSB fees) and they don’t faff about with any jargon. It looks excellent.

And no, I will not be working there and, no, I’m not doing the Bar course next year!

(1)(1)

Pink Panther

ICCA have been in existence for three years. Why are they starting in 2020? Because the current regulations would permit their online only part 1 to exist, nor splitting the course. Have a look at the current regulations. Still minimum class sizes and the need for face to face save for COVID.

All credit to them for creating their course but let’s not pretend that it’s solely down to them that the market has been disrupted.

They’ve been given millions of pounds by the Inns to create a course that will currently take about 50 students. Real disruption would have been a course that took only those with pupillage and as many as have pupillage. That’s what the Inns and Bar seem to want. They have said they will never be able to take that many and I suspect it’s because the Inns can’t or won’t fund it. The course fees won’t sustain it either. The subsidy isn’t big enough.

Other providers are just as cheap. The £1000 figure plus BSB fee is misleading. The BSB fee isn’t optional. Comparing it with to City’s part 1 online and it’s close. BPP offer a part 1 that’s more expensive but offers face to face which will work for some. Online only with no support isn’t for everyone. For those who it is, great they now have the choice, if they can get in.

(2)(0)

The Pink Panther

Cool post bruh, do you work for ICCA or are you going there?

From 2020:

City are doing a part 1 online, part 2 face to face in the same way that ICCA are

City, University of Law, BPP do all of their civil and crime teaching in term 1

Nottingham Trent are doing all of their teaching in term 1 and the entire course in six months

All of them are much cheaper than before with the likes of Nottingham as cheap as ICCA but without the cost of living in London

ICCA can’t claim the credit for making everyone’s course shorter and cheaper. The BSB regulations haven’t permitted online teaching, courses shorter than a year, dropping electives until this September.

(2)(1)

Pink Panther

CCA have been in existence for three years. Why are they starting in 2020? Because the current regulations would permit their online only part 1 to exist, nor splitting the course. Have a look at the current regulations. Still minimum class sizes and the need for face to face save for COVID.

All credit to them for creating their course but let’s not pretend that it’s solely down to them that the market has been disrupted.

They’ve been given millions of pounds by the Inns to create a course that will currently take about 50 students. Real disruption would have been a course that took only those with pupillage and as many as have pupillage. That’s what the Inns and Bar seem to want. They have said they will never be able to take that many and I suspect it’s because the Inns can’t or won’t fund it. The course fees won’t sustain it either. The subsidy isn’t big enough.

Other providers are just as cheap. The £1000 figure plus BSB fee is misleading. The BSB fee isn’t optional. Comparing it with to City’s part 1 online and it’s close. BPP offer a part 1 that’s more expensive but offers face to face which will work for some. Online only with no support isn’t for everyone. For those who it is, great they now have the choice, if they can get in..

(0)(0)

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