SQE concerns at BAME attainment gap
By Nicola Laver
The final design of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) has been unveiled but there are continued concerns at the black and minority ethnic (BAME) attainment gap revealed in the SQE2 pilot. SQE2 is the second stage of the centralised assessment which comes into force from September 2021 and is focused on assessing candidates’ oral and written legal skills. #
But there remains the unresolved issue that BAME candidates did not perform as well as their white counterparts in the pilot. While the SRA found little or no difference in performance by gender or disability, it identified “differential performance by binary ethnicity (white/BAME)”. #Julie Brannan, the SRA’s director of education and training, said the SRA is unsure what drives this attainment gap. “It could be socio-economic, issues with access to prior education”, she said. “We looked carefully at the assessment themselves; we looked at the questions, did quality assurance and cannot see any areas where there’s unfairness.” Brannan said all assessors will have unconscious bias training as well as other training. She also confirmed that further research is to be commissioned into the causes of any attainment deficit.
This is currently in the planning stage.