Review of the BVC

The BVC Review Working Group, chaired by Derek Wood QC, presented its report to the Bar Standards Board at its meeting on 17 July. The report summarises the issues addressed, the methodology undertaken, and the wide evidence base used for decision-making (including analysis of existing material, wide-ranging meetings with relevant stakeholders and an online questionnaire completed by almost 500 present and recent BVC students).

The findings and recommendations of the Group include: a change in title to the ‘Bar Professional Training Course’; the need for greater engagement between the practising profession and the BVC; some amendments to subject areas (including greater emphasis on the teaching and assessment of professional ethics; more content on the resolution of disputes out of court; and the delivery of legal research as part of induction, rather than as an assessed subject); and more rigorous entry requirements, including a universal aptitude test and formal language
testing for applicants. Although teaching was generally found to be good, more clearly defined standards are recommended for teaching, learning and assessment on the course, set at a high level as defined by the professional course descriptors and universal assessment grading
criteria. Stricter exit standards should also be maintained, with more limited opportunities for retaking examinations and universal exit testing in knowledge areas. A new Handbook is being produced for the course, encapsulating the proposed changes and accreditation and Quality Assurance procedures.