WARNING: College of Law BPTC Course problem

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bptc
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Dear Students,

I have created this thread as a warning to all law students who want to enrol at the College of Law BPTC course, in order to become Barristers.

Please share similar experiences, give me your opinions...but in the end I want this to be a lesson to all BPTC providers and to students who wish to become Barristers. The system is flawed, but all constructive developments start from a discussion..an idea...

This is my story...

I was a full time student of the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at the College of Law Bloomsbury, in the year 2010-2011. I have 8 very competent exam results, but still failed the course (according to them at least).

During final exams, I have failed the July 2011 Civil Litigation and Evidence, average 55.55 (SAQ 25.50, MCT 30.00) and Criminal Litigation and Evidence, average 66.75 (SAQ 23.00, MCT 43.75).

As a result, I have applied to re-sit (1st attempt) the failed examinations, with the following results:
(a) I failed the September 2011 Civil Litigation and Evidence, average 62.00 (SAQ 33.50, MCT 28.50);
(b) I passed the Criminal Litigation and Evidence, average 60.00 (SAQ 30.00, MCT 30.00);

The first thing I did was to call the information desk at the College of Law, Bloomsbury and ask for advice. Even the employee was amazed by the margin of my failure, but he couldn't do anything, but advise me to file a complaint. And so I did...

This is part of my complaint:

The July and September 2011 Civil Litigation and Evidence MCTs had several problems, which have negatively affected my performance:

(a) Several MCT question in the July and September 2011 Civil Litigation and Evidence examinations were drafted too vague and misleading. Many students, including myself, have complained about this problem after the July 2011 exam, but received no answer. I would like to provide more details but I was asked to leave the exam questions in the examination room, thus I am unable to provide further proof.

(b) Section 44 of „A quick guidance to assessments on the BPTC”(the Assessment Regulations of the Course Handbook 2010-2011), states that the MCTs are „carefully drafted to test the materials you have been taught”:

i. I have not been taught all of the materials included in the MCTs in the July or September 2011 examination sessions;

ii. At page 5 of the „Multiple Choice Test (MCT) and Short Answer Questions (SAQ)” hand out, it is mentioned under „Civil Litigation” that:
“You may be tested on ANY of the chapters in A Practical Approach to Civil Procedure; Sime, including those chapters which deal with evidence and procedure. Note that not all of the chapters will have been covered in class. All chapters may still be examined through MCTs/SAQs unless stated otherwise in the table below.” This provision is invalid, because it comes into conflict with section 44 of „A quick guidance to assessments on the BPTC”;

iii. At page 5 of the „Multiple Choice Test (MCT) and Short Answer Questions (SAQ)” hand out, it is mentioned under „Civil Evidence” that:
“You may be tested on ANY of the chapters in A Practical Approach to Civil Procedure; Sime, including those chapters which deal with evidence and procedure and you may be tested on any of the chapters in The City Law School Evidence Manual 15th Edition insofar as they relate to matters of civil evidence. Note that not all of the chapters will have been covered in class. All chapters may still be examined through MCTs/SAQs unless stated otherwise in the table below.” This provision is also invalid, because it comes into conflict with section 44 of „A quick guidance to assessments on the BPTC”;

iv. Our tutors have informed us verbally that we will be tested on the whole syllabus of the exam, even if several areas have not been actually covered in the teaching sessions. This verbal statement is also invalid, because it comes into conflict with section 44 of „A quick guidance to assessments on the BPTC”;

(c) The new regulations imposed by the Bar Standards Board in the 2010-2011 BPTC sessions are mandatory, but unfair. I ask for your understanding, because the BPTC students of the 2009-2010 sessions had to obtain an average of 50.00, while this session the average was increased to 60.00. Also, last year’s students were not assessed by SAQs in Civil or Criminal Litigation and Evidence examinations and could of had more than two attempts to pass an examination. The BPTC students of the 2010-2011 session, including myself, were the first to experience the new regulations.

In short, I argued that the exams contained materials that the College of Law did not bother teaching us, although I spent over 20,000 pounds in 1 year!

Regarding the drafting of the MCT questions, the review process must be flawed, if it ignores all complaints made by paying students.

The Board concluded that “teaching” includes all materials provided to students, but “teaching”, or “to teach” is defined in the BBC English Dictionary 1993, as:

teach/teaching/taught: If you teach, your job is to help students to learn about something at school, college, or university.

The Oxford English Dictionary 2012, defines “teaching”, or to “teach” as:

teach/teaching/taught: to impart knowledge to or instruct (someone) as to how to do something. To learn or understand something by example or experience.

I admit that ”teaching” includes all materials provided to me, which I was directed to read, but this is just a minor element of the teaching process as a whole and should not be regarded, in any circumstances, as a stand-alone teaching method.

Students are not paying a total sum of 15,375.00 GBP to be “directed to read” course books. I can also open a book, read the content guide and the appropriate sections, without paying the College of Law, Bloomsbury. For this sum I expect to be taught in the true sense of the word.


Thanks for reading and I am grateful for any constructive comment
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Jingers
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I thought the BPTC course was basically a lot of independent learning...
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bptc
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The LLB and BPTC mainly rely of independent learning, because if the high volume of reading, but regarding legal procedure, a student cannot understand the CPR rules etc. without proper guidance. To make matters worse, I was told (and signed) one thing at the start of the course, but then they changed the regulations without consultations or asking for our approval.

Passing the SAQ and MCT exams has become more a matter of luck and reliance on how well you memorise dates and numbers...this should not be the way future barristers are taught (or not taught).
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chalks
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Your issue, as I understand it, is that

(a) you were examined on areas which were not part of your face-to-face teaching on the BPTC but which were in your texts;
(b) the BPTC assessment guidance indicates you'll only be examined on materials that you've been "taught"
(c) you say "taught" means material and information imparted to you directly by teachers not in texts

Is that right?

If so, I think you're clutching at straws. I'm sure you must recognise that a course provider can't cover every word of the CPR in face to face training modules yet it's appropriate to examine you on those areas nonetheless?

If any of your training modules say "We will teach you the basic principles, but you need to do your own reading" then you're scuppered.
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gethsemane342
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I might be reading it wrong but the Quick Guide to Assessment seems to suggest that the questions will cover what you've been taught - they don't say "the questions will not include what you have not been taught face-to-face".

My point is, if the chapters *are* on your syllabus then I think "taught" should be taken as "on the syllabus" rather than face-to-face teaching. In which case, I see no conflict.
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Scarlet_Rose
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(Original post by chalks)
Your issue, as I understand it, is that

(a) you were examined on areas which were not part of your face-to-face teaching on the BPTC but which were in your texts;
(b) the BPTC assessment guidance indicates you'll only be examined on materials that you've been "taught"
(c) you say "taught" means material and information imparted to you directly by teachers not in texts

Is that right?

If so, I think you're clutching at straws. I'm sure you must recognise that a course provider can't cover every word of the CPR in face to face training modules yet it's appropriate to examine you on those areas nonetheless?

If any of your training modules say "We will teach you the basic principles, but you need to do your own reading" then you're scuppered.

I agree that students should be capable of teaching themselves. However, the intensity of the workload on this course makes it impossible to do so effectively. The course does not allow students to allocate time during study weeks for revision. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the BSB insists on examining the core knowledge areas in April, giving students, at most, a mere 10 days off from classes/other exams to revise. In my opinion, all exams should be held at least a month after all classes have ended to give students the proper time to consolidate their learning and revise effectively.
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jennyboo
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wow, is this the same everywhere? I am looking to do the course soon. where is best to do it?
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jazzyN
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Oh boy this thread did not give me comfort... CoL Birmingham is my first choice and they have offered me a place. Unfortunately for now my only other choice is Manchester Met. Are things really that horrendous at CoL?

I read in another (older) thread that the tutors didn't quite exercise their open door policy as well as they should have and overall didnt have a good experience with CoL...

Is Manchester Met good enough or should i wait for my 4th 5th 6th etc choices to respond?
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mloco
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(Original post by jazzyN)
Oh boy this thread did not give me comfort... CoL Birmingham is my first choice and they have offered me a place. Unfortunately for now my only other choice is Manchester Met. Are things really that horrendous at CoL?

I read in another (older) thread that the tutors didn't quite exercise their open door policy as well as they should have and overall didnt have a good experience with CoL...

Is Manchester Met good enough or should i wait for my 4th 5th 6th etc choices to respond?

I studied at CoL Bloomsbury and the only issues I had were the same all Bar students had - the BSB exams which were problematic anywhere. CoL are in the top two, if not THE top provider for professional legal qualifications. Please don't let the opinions of one person put you off.
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mloco
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(Original post by Scarlet_Rose)
I agree that students should be capable of teaching themselves. However, the intensity of the workload on this course makes it impossible to do so effectively. The course does not allow students to allocate time during study weeks for revision. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the BSB insists on examining the core knowledge areas in April, giving students, at most, a mere 10 days off from classes/other exams to revise. In my opinion, all exams should be held at least a month after all classes have ended to give students the proper time to consolidate their learning and revise effectively.
But everyone was in the same boat? I started revision in January (keen bean) to ensure I covered everything. Surely a case of good time management? And I didn't sit around and do nothing in my spare time either - I had two jobs.. Just lacked a decent social life for the majority of this year!
In any case, seeing as you're talking about it I assumed you passed all the exams? So despite however disastrous the year may have been, you got through it.. Time to celebrate rather than complain about timetabling?
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immmys
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hi has any one got any bptc revision materials please
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