SRA annual report reveals ‘significant differences’ among anonymised law schools

Pass rates on the Legal Practice Course (LPC) ranged from as high as 100% to as low as 23%, new statistics released by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have shown.

The regulator’s annual report on quality assurance in education and training revealed there continue to be “significant differences” in successful completion rates between providers.

LPC pass rates for the academic year to 2019 ranged from 100% to 23% across 25 postgraduate law schools, whose names are anonymised. Four providers scored pass rates higher than 90%, while three fell below the 50% mark.

Meanwhile, pass rates on the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) for the same period ranged from 95% to 0%.

“We are unable to draw firm conclusions about why there is such a broad range in successful completion rates,” the SRA said. “However, pass rates can be influenced by candidate ability and engagement, as well as teaching quality and assessment arrangements.”

The 2021 Legal Cheek LPC Most List

There were also significant variations between providers in the proportion of students who achieve pass, commendation or distinction grades. The SRA said the reasons for such wide disparity were “unclear” but stated a number of factors such as differences in academic ability, size of student intakes, and the quality of teaching, all make it difficult to draw consistent outcomes.

Elsewhere, the report shows the achievement gap between white and ethnic minority students remains large. Over two-thirds (68%) of white students successfully completed the LPC, compared with 49% of asian students and 36% of black students. The report further found white students were significantly more likely to receive distinctions.

“We know there is an attainment gap affecting BAME students in legal education,” the SRA continued. “We are commissioning independent research to look at the societal and structural factors that may be driving this attainment gap, so that we can look at whether we and others can take steps to make a difference.”

These findings come as the LPC and GDL are to be phased out by the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) from 1 September 2021.

Last year’s report found that LPC pass rates for the year to 2018 ranged from 100% to 29% and GDL pass rates varied from 100% to 35%. The SRA dismissed calls to disclose the training providers’ names at the time, noting that the SQE, a new two-part national assessment to be set and examined centrally, will make it easier to compare outcomes.