The Bar Barometer 2014: what else did it say?

The annual report from the Bar Standards Board and Bar Council last week made news for its erroneous assertion that tenancies had fallen by a disastrous 64 per cent, unfortunately overshadowing a number of interesting statistics about the current makeup of the bar and BPTC students.

The report reveals that in 2011/12, the most recent year for which data is available, more than one third (35 per cent) of first six pupils attended a fee-paying secondary school. In 2010/11, the figure was 40 per cent. Nationwide, around half a million, or 7 per cent, of school children attend a fee-paying school.


Some 28 per cent of 2011/12 pupils went to Cambridge or Oxford and another 36 per cent went to a Russell Group university, with only 25 per cent attending a non-Oxbridge or Russell Group institution, although 10 per cent of respondents failed to clarify which university they attended. 

Oxford was the most commonly attended university among first six pupils in 2011/12, as it was in 2010/11. The next was Cambridge, followed by Durham and UCL, with 3.3 per cent of pupils coming from each of the latter institutions.

The survey also revealed that 33 per cent of first-six pupils in 2011/12 had achieved a first class degree, while another 55 per cent had achieved a 2:1 or 2:2.

Of the same cohort, 25 per cent achieved distinction at GDL level while 59 per cent achieved a commendation and 16 per cent simply passed.

Figures showing the makeup of Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) students over the same period paint an illuminating picture.

In 2011/12, 3,017 students applied to study the BPTC. Of those, 58 per cent (1,732) successfully enrolled. Of those who enrolled, 73 per cent (1,260) passed the qualification. The figures do not yet show the impact of the introduction of the Bar Course Aptitude Test, which was not launched until 2013.


The numbers contrast with the number of pupillages on offer in the same year, with 438 first-sixes and 475 second-sixes registered. Both figures are a slight decrease on 2010/11’s figures, this trend holding true for the last five years.

The Bar Barometer also showed that around one third (31 per cent) of pupils gained pupillage prior to taking their BPTC, meaning that nearly 70 per cent (68.5 per cent) of pupils  embarked on the course with no guarantee of employment or training afterwards. Separate Lawyer 2B research shows that the price of the course rises steadily each year (26 March 2014).

Of those pupils who undertook their first-six in 2011/12, 38 per cent had taken the course in the same year. Another 24 per cent had passed the BPTC in 2010 while a further 13 per cent sat the exam in 2009. Another 14.5 per cent had completed the BPTC between 2006 and 2009 while 10.5 per cent did not disclose their BPTC year.

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