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Last updated 22 October 2012

Please note: The work-based learning pilot has closed and there are no plans to accept new entrants to the scheme.

The SRA is conducting further evaluation of the pilot scheme to support the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) which will make recommendations on the future of legal and training in England and Wales in December 2012.

On 10 October 2012, the SRA announced the publication of a report on the findings of a study of the later stages of the pilot. The 67-page report is available to download. More

Work Based Learning Pilot evaluation report

The SRA has published an inital evaluation report on the results of a two-year pilot to look at different ways of assessing competence in qualifying as a solicitor at the training contract stage.

The Middlesex Evaluation Report, produced by The Institute for Work Based Learning at Middlesex University, found the pilot had been successful in its approach to assuring quality. It made a number of recommendations for a more robust and integrated set of outcomes to assess trainees' competence.

Key recommendations from the report include:

  • further work setting out the skills and attributes for qualifying as a solicitor;
  • development of progressive steps of achievement linking the Legal Practice Course, the vocational stage and Day 1 competencies;
  • articulation of the learning outcomes necessary to show competence;
  • consideration of a credit system to assess incremental learning and to open the door to more flexible routes to qualification and transfer between professions;
  • retention and development of the portfolio as a learning journal;
  • training of key professionals in coaching and assessment within a WBL framework;
  • continuation of the bold moves in widening participation through exploring an accredited learning scheme for prior learning;
  • addressing barriers to entry at secondary school level when choices of university, courses and future careers are still being formed.

Further evaluation activity will take place in 2012 to study at the outcomes of the part time cohort and provide an analysis of the outcomes and destinations of those participating in the pilot programme.

The results and lessons learned from the pilot will contribute to the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) in 2012. Further information can be found at www.letr.org.uk.

Work Based Learning Pilot

The (SRA) are currently piloting Work Based Learning (WBL) as an alternative to the vocational (training contract) stage of training for trainee solicitors. In September 2008, we selected a small number of people and organisations to participate in the pilot programme.

The overall objective of the (WBL) project is to develop an approach to ensuring the competence of qualifying solicitors that is

  • quality assured
  • consistent, and
  • reliable.

The project includes a WBL pilot. The objective of the pilot is to develop, test and evaluate WBL as a model for improving the quality assurance of, and access to, the vocational training stage of qualification as a solicitor. Please see the recently updated questions and answers for further in depth analysis of WBL.

Pilot volunteer information

The pilot has been running since September 2008, and the first cohort of candidates qualified in September 2010. There are two cohorts - full and part time, with a total of 98 candidates being evaluated on the pilot. There are no further pilots scheduled and there are currently no places available for people wishing to be accepted on to the pilot. We have worked with a small number of firms and providers to develop and approve new learning and assessment strategies.

Our Work-based learning handbook (PDF 23 pages, 124K) contains a description of the roles that individuals and organisations in the new system will carry out, including those of the external candidate. External candidates are people undertaking work-based learning but are not serving under a training contract.

Pilot closed

The Pilot is now closed.

Reference documents for participating firms

The handbook contains a description of the roles that individuals and organisations in the new system will carry out. It also contains the "Work Based Learning Outcomes" that will form the core of the learning and assessment.

We have updated the handbook again, to allow for the running of the part time cohort that started in October 2009. We have

  • clarified the role of the candidate, and the difference between Internal and External approaches,
  • clearly set out eligibility criteria for candidates,
  • defined what we mean by legal work (useful for people in paralegal positions).

The evaluation methodology (and the guidance note) sets out what we expect from work-based learning providers, or "assessment organisations". You can use it to help you design structured learning and assessment programmes.

If you have any queries about the project and what the pilot involves, please .


Please use www.sra.org.uk/wbl to link to this page.