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SQE assessment organisation appointed

We have appointed Kaplan as the assessment organisation to develop and run the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).

Selected following a rigorous, year-long process, Kaplan provides education, training and assessment across professional services, including in law, financial services, accountancy and banking. It has direct experience of assessment within the legal sector in England and Wales as the provider of the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS). Kaplan will not provide training for the SQE.

The SRA and Kaplan will work with stakeholders from across the legal and education sectors to develop and test the SQE. Kaplan will then run the SQE on our behalf. They have been appointed for a period of eight years from the introduction of the SQE.

The SQE will provide a single common assessment for all aspiring solicitors. It will be introduced, at the earliest, in September 2020. The costs of the assessment will be determined once the final design is fixed, although we are aiming to provide guidance on indicative costs before then.

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive said: “We are delighted to appoint Kaplan after a robust, competitive and open process. Their bid succeeded against some very strong competition.

“We are now another step closer to delivering a rigorous assessment that helps build trust that all qualifying solicitors are meeting the same high standards, regardless of their route into the profession.”

Peter Houillon, Chief Executive Officer, Kaplan: “Kaplan is thrilled to have been selected to run the SQE on behalf of the SRA and build on our partnership founded in the delivery of the QLTS.  We look forward to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to build and deliver a world class Solicitors Qualifying Examination.”

The starting point for developing, testing and piloting the SQE will be the “Draft Assessment Specification“, which we published in June 2017.

As well as further building trust and confidence in professional standards, the SQE will also support wider access to the profession, by making sure that all the different routes to entry, including ‘earn as you learn’ pathways such as apprenticeships, are tested in the exactly the same way.

It will also remove the need for would-be solicitors to pay significant up-front costs, often up to £16,000, to take the Legal Practice Course, which offers no guarantee of a training contract or qualification as a solicitor.

We have also confirmed that we have been approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships as the external quality assurance body for the solicitor apprenticeship. In this role it will be responsible for making sure that the apprenticeship standard and assessment plan are fit-for-purpose and that the assessment that apprentices do at the end of their apprenticeship is fair, consistent, and rigorous. Kaplan will be applying in due course to be the end point assessment organisation for the solicitor apprenticeship.

Last year around 100 people started the solicitor apprenticeship route.