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Work-based learning scheme fails to convince

10 June 2011

The SRA’s work-based learning scheme must be fine tuned before it could be rolled out, a report preapred for the regulator has concluded.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has been running a pilot scheme for two years to experiment with an alternative assessment scheme for trainees.

An evaluation report of the pilot, produced by Middlesex University’s work-based learning institute, states: “While a large majority of respondents regarded the learning outcomes as good practice in principle, there were reservations and qualifications.

“In their current form they are administratively burdensome and time consuming for everyone.”

Of the 79 students participating in the pilot scheme, 70 passed. They were required to keep a portfolio of their work demonstrating the fulfilment of a set of professional development criteria, including legal expertise and business awareness.

The pilot was developed to standardise traineeships and to bolster diversity by providing an alternative route to qualification for people who cannot secure a training contract.

“Professionals in legal firms all agreed that this route for paralegals to qualify as solicitors was a fairer system,” the report found. “However, over the course of the pilot they became less convinced that it was desirable or feasible on a large scale.”

The alternative assessment scheme has been welcomed in principle but lawyers say they are not convinced it could improve a participant’s job prospects.

Dr Susan Bews, chair of the SRA’s education and training committee, said: “The pilot has been extremely valuable. The work will improve the rigour of our assessment processes, and has the potential to offer a wider range of trainees the opportunity to complete their training through alternative routes.

The report made eight recommendations to the SRA, including the need for further work to be done on what standards it wants trainees to be able to fulfil.

The SRA said the results will be fed into the education and training review being jointly undertaken by the SRA, the Bar Standards Board and ILEX.

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Regulators Education & Training