20 March 2018

Vocational Training

After the academic stage, students will continue to be required to pass a computer-based Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) which is designed to show how likely it is that they will succeed in the next level of training.

Students will continue to be admitted to one of the Inns of Court, who will continue to be responsible for "call to the Bar" at an appropriate point in the training.

The BSB is reviewing the requirements for call to the Bar by the Inns, and the evolving role of the Inns in the formal regulatory arrangements of the BSB. We will report separately on that review.

Future vocational training

The BSB agrees that changes to the BPTC must make it a less risky and more valuable investment (both financially and personally) for those who undertake it.  This can be achieved in several possible ways, including changing, for example: the structure and modes of delivery of the course, the admissions policies, the nature of the qualification awarded - or a combination of these things.

For the immediate future the current BPTC will continue, at least in the short term, to provide training for those who are accepted onto the course (on a full time or part time basis) until new arrangements are in place. As we transition to the new training system, we are not proposing substantive changes to the outcomes required from vocational training, although we expect more versatility in how they are provided. We will also review the way in which Ethics is taught and assessed.

Changes to the structure of vocational training

Alternative routes to the current structure of BPTC have been proposed. Please see below for potential future routes of training.

Combined vocational training and Master's degrees

We currently allow, by exception, one provider (Northumbria University) to combine the BPTC with a Master's degree in Law to help reduce the costs of training. It enables students to fund their studies through the student loan system and gives them a more widely recognised qualification, whether or not they then go on to seek pupillage. We see this as a positive development and a training route which will continue.

A number of other providers of the current BPTC already offer an LLM, and this will also be welcomed in our new system.

Bar apprenticeship or other integrated modular pathway

The route of training most similar to (higher) apprenticeships will also be permissible in our regulatory framework. The employed Bar may be particularly interested in this model and we consider it would be well suited to that training environment.

The two-part vocational training model

A new two-part model for vocational training, as proposed by the Council of the Inns of Court (COIC) and the Bar Council. A key aspect of this proposal would be to split vocational training into two parts:

  • Part 1 would consist of the knowledge-based parts of the course - civil and criminal litigation and evidence, which are centrally examined by the BSB. Candidates would be able to prepare for Part 1 either independently or on a formal course. 
  • Only those who pass Part 1 would then be able to proceed to Part 2 which will consist of the remaining skills-based elements - which include advocacy, drafting, ethics, and conferencing skills.  Part 2 would require formal attendance at a course.

For more information about how the Vocational stage is changing, please see our FBT Policy Statement.

Unsure of the current vocational requirements? See our ' Vocational requirements' page.