Quality Assurance at LCC!
QAA Meeting Report
On Wednesday 7 May I attended the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA)’s offices with Janet Faulkner (dean of HE) and Sarah Wilson (HE academic registrar). If you’re wondering what the QAA and what they do then you’re not alone. Before this event I had no idea but it shall all, hopefully, become clear.
QAA are essentially the HE college/university’s equivalent of OFSTED. They monitor and review the progress and standards of institutions that award or teach level 4 or higher courses. Leeds City College have their review coming up in March 2016 and if you’ve ever wanted to take control of your education now is your chance.
The meeting I attended in Gloucester set out the rough schedule of what we can expect from QAA’s review process and here’s what I learnt:
● A member of the college (the Facilitator) will produce a self-evaluation document which sets out how the college functions and what it does to meet national standards. It also talks about areas for improvement and what the do well.
● At the same time as the self-evaluation document is being made I will be working with other students as the Lead Student Representative to produce a student submission.
● Once the self-evaluation document and student submissions have been sent to QAA they will be analysed and a review committee will be formed to visit Leeds City College.
● During the meeting QAA will meet with staff and students to explore the points raised in the submission documents.
● After the meeting they will publish a report which will form the basis for Leeds City College’s action plan for improvement.
The student submission is extremely important as it tells QAA what studying at Leeds City College is like and it is your chance to make a difference. The document will cover the following:
● The structure of the student body.
● What students think about how the college sets and maintains the level of its qualifications, what opportunities students have in order to achieve their qualification, what information is publicly available about student opportunities and if it is accurate, and what the college is doing to improve.
● Make recommendations on the above points.
As a whole the QAA event was well coordinated with useful information and resources. My main criticism was that certain information aimed at Facilitators was slightly difficult to understand but Janet and Sarah were very helpful at explaining certain points to me and answering my questions. I could have done without the six hours travel though!
If you’re interested in volunteering to help with the student submission please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will happily put your name forward and answer any questions.
Great article on Legal Aid cuts. Particularly useful for our first year LLB group discussion.
To stretch your understanding check out the full CoA judgment in Lindner v Rawlings  EWCA Civ 51.
Student Joel Cartwright tells us what is meant by commercial awareness and advises us on how we can gain it….
As your legal studies and legal career progresses it is vital that you develop a certain amount of business know-how. You may have heard the term commercial awareness mentioned if you have a background in business studies but it is amazing how overlooked it is by law students. There is an increasing importance placed on the mystifying term “commercial awareness” and it is a big part of why you might lose out on a coveted role. A study by the Association of Graduate Recruiters saw 67% of employers report that commercial awareness is a skill which graduates lacked.
It’s highly likely that you’re thinking “but what is commercial awareness and how do I gain it?” In short, it is the ability to look at businesses and see how they interact internally and externally. While it is not a skill that can be taught it can be acquired by developing an interest in politics, news, and the legal sector. Read reputable newspapers such as The Guardian, The Times, The Financial Times, The Economist, CNN, The Daily Telegraph, etc. for a good overview of commercial news on local, national, and global level. Many of these can be accessed online for small fees (or even, in some cases, for free).
Once you have gained an understanding of how businesses work you will want to hone it by focusing on aspects that interest you. For instance, a sports fan may be more interested in their favourite teams’ administration than the latest Debenhams merger. It’s of paramount importance that everything you do is of interest to you so that you get the most out of it.
Another way to develop your newly gained commercial awareness and possibly the most useful way is to network. This can be done online or offline. If you are on the fence regarding websites like Twitter and LinkedIn, I suggest it’s time to cave in and register. It is becoming increasingly common for firms to have accounts on these websites where they can interact and stay up to date with the world around them making it a vital tool for each undergraduate to have. Offline it is possible to gain work experience in businesses with excellent transferrable skills for the legal sector such as accountancy firms, local government, and banks. It is also useful to attend marketing and career fairs and to join clubs and societies.
Once you begin applying for legal roles it is necessary to put your commercial awareness into a context the company will appreciate. So get used to fine tuning your interests to suit your long term goals. For instance, if you are hoping to work for a regional legal office in Yorkshire then it’s unlikely that your impressive knowledge of business practices in Wiltshire will help you. Know your target and it will make it much easier for you to score those lucrative training contracts, pupillages, and legal sector jobs.
An abundance of material is available which is tailored to law students and can be found in the links below.
– Ultimate Law Guide
– Law Gazette
– Legal Week
– The Lawyer
– Legal 500
Our first year LLB students had a guest speaker in their criminal law lecture last week. Student Kirsty Pybus gives us the details!
NON-FATAL OFFENCES AGAINST THE PERSON
A retired Police Officer came to talk to our Law degree students about the law in reality. He had worked within the force for 30 years, starting as Police Constable and before retiring was an Inspector in the Counter Terrorism Squad. His talk was about non-fatal offences against the person. It was designed to give us an insight into today’s policing and how this public role differs from that of a legal advocate.
A non-fatal offence is Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm, contrary to section 47 Offences against the Person Act 1861. The offence is committed when a person assaults another.
For present purposes the OAPA 1861 is split up into 3 provisions.
provisions which require a specific intent (sections 11 to 14, 18, 21, 22, 24, 29 to 33, 38 to 40);
provisions which use the words ‘unlawfully’ and ‘maliciously’ in connection with a positive act (sections 17, 20, 23, 28);
provisions which do not use the words ‘maliciously’ or ‘unlawfully’ at all (sections 34–37, 41, 47)
Our guest spoke in detail about s47, s20 and s18.
S47: Actual bodily harm; Common assault;
S20: Unlawful wounding; inflicting bodily injury, with or without a weapon;
S18: Wounding with attempt; shooting or attempting to shoot, or wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm. He explained that s47 ABH is applied when there is bruising to a victim, a doctors statement would be used to confirm this along with photographic evidence. Common assault s39 covers reddening of the skin. It is the lowest level of assault and hard to enforce, therefore we did not discuss this section further. S20 is used when wounding of the skin has occurred causing a bleed. S18 GBH with intent is the most serious and could carry a sentence of life imprisonment. S18 also covers resisting arrest.
There are specific laws that cover assaults on Police Officers, Prison Officers and Immigration Officers. Our guest explained that should a member of the public run to the aid of a police officer during an assault and was assaulted themselves then this is also covered specifically. Unfortunately there are no laws at present that outlines that it is an offence to assault a paramedic although the offenders are dealt with more severely.
It was pointed out that under English law, sexual offences are generally considered separately, since they differ substantially from other offences against the person in theoretical basis and composition. Sexual offences may be committed “with intent”, meaning there is an additional mens rea component that makes the defendant more culpable for their actions. Whilst recklessness is sufficient for most offences against the person.
It was discussed in detail, scenarios and actual events that had taken place during his career within the police. How a person may be arrested for an s18 assault, but yet the Crown Prosecution Service or whilst in court, the offender may actually only be found guilty of an s20. Our guest explained that sometimes this can be frustrating for the officers involved but if the offender will plead guilty to s20 but not the s18 if they feel it is a justified punishment for the crime they will settle for this as it saves money and time of a lengthy trial. It is fair to say that many officers at some point of their career will be accused of assault. The Criminal Law Act 1967 s3 and s117 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act codes of practice outlines what level of force an officer can use in his line of duty.
The talk was very informative to all the students, and it gave a real insight to the work and role of the police. Personally I found this exceptionally useful as I would like a career in the police after my degree. I discussed with him how I have been going through the recruitment process for special constables and if he felt this would be useful to me? Our guest speaker advised me that he thought it would be great experience and the only way to work towards becoming a regular officer in the future. He also touched on the requirements needed to be a special constable and the recruitment process should any of the other students be interested. I think I can speak for the class when I say we all thoroughly enjoyed the lesson and learnt a lot. I feel guest speakers and day visits of a practical nature are really useful alongside academic studies. I feel it helps those students whom are unsure where they would like to go in their legal career, it gives students a more detailed knowledge of all aspects of the legal sector, helping them to make a more informative decision when contemplating their futures.
At the age of 25 I decided to return back into education to follow my ambitions of becoming a family solicitor. I joined Leeds City College to study the Access to Law Diploma. Before starting the course I was nervous and at times doubted whether I was capable of completing the course. After a few weeks my doubts started to fade and my confidence started to grow. I passed the course at distinction/merit level and was so happy that I was finally on my way to achieving my dream job.
All of this was made possible by grit and determination along with the amazing support and teaching from the tutors involved. Throughout the whole course the tutors were there with encouragement and guidance along with any matters regarding situations outside of college work.
I was really happy with how the Access to Law Diploma went that I decided to continue my studies at Leeds City College to study the LLB. The transition from the Access course to the LLB was very daunting to say the least. Before starting the course a team building day was arranged so we had the chance to meet fellow students and tutors. I found the day really helpful and when I entered the classroom on the first day of the LLB I felt a little more at ease as I had already met my fellow students and tutors.
I am now 2 months into the LLB and I am really happy that I chose to stay on at Leeds City College. Some people have some misconceptions about studying a degree at a college but I can honestly say it’s the best choice I could have made. The degree is the same as if you were to study anywhere else. The class is small so it’s easier to get one on one time if needed and the college term times are same as schools so it fits in perfectly with my children. I am looking forward to completing my degree and am highly confident that I will be able to continue the path to become a solicitor.
For further information see Leeds City College LLB Law (hons) page
This fantastic radio piece is well worth a listen for any law student.
The Judges contains a conversation held between Judge Khalida Rachid Khan, Pakistan’s first female judge and Justice Mandisa Maya, the first black woman to sit in the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa.
Their tenacity is evident throughout the conversation, as is their empathy and professionalism.
In a world where men still dominate senior roles, this is a conversation that needs to be heard.
Today a rather bleary eyed group of students from Leeds City College went on an educational visit to HMP Humber through Prison Me No Way.
After a slightly delayed (and too early for some!) start, we arrived at HMP Humber’s Everthorpe site. Surrounded by high prison walls, HMP Humber is somewhat disguised by its picturesque country surroundings. It is indeed quite a contrast to the typically imposing Victorian design of HMP Leeds that we are used to seeing.
Upon entering the prison our IDs were checked and searches carried out. We were shown through to the large visiting area and introduced to a prisoner officer, Mark, and four of his colleagues. The visit started with an informative presentation detailing the ins and outs of life within HMP Humber. After the presentation students attended two workshops. Workshop one was delivered by a prison drugs worker and two men convicted and imprisoned for offences due to addiction. The prisoners explained the 12 Steps Programme and how it was helping them overcome addiction. Both myself and students felt quite moved by this presentation, particularly hearing the life stories of both men and the stark reality of living with addiction.
The second workshop was delivered by a prison officer who’s specialism was all things security. Students were shown examples of confiscated items including: homemade weapons and chargers, mobile phones and blades. The resourcefulness of prisoners when it comes to hiding contraband was an eye-opener to say the least!
Lunch time meant our group reconvened in the visiting room with Mark and his colleagues. It is worth mentioning at this point that the other four men had taken a backseat role after their introductions and up to this point had engaged in brief chat. It was therefore very interesting to watch the surprise on the faces of my students when the four men introduced themselves further; the first man was serving six years for manslaughter, the second a lifer for murder, the third man was serving an IPP sentence with a 99 year tariff for conspiracy to murder and the fourth 11 years for the offences of Section 18 and kidnap.
This really was a fantastic aspect of the visit. Students were initially really surprised and then engaged in discussions around stereotypes and individual offending behaviour, particularly risk factors. Conversation over lunch was kept fairly informal and then we were given a tour of the prison.
Our group were shown a live wing and had the opportunity to go inside an empty cell. Students again expressed surprise at the conditions (it’s not the sort of ‘cushy’ number we are sometimes led to believe). We were also shown the prison gym, workshop buildings and the segregation unit aka ‘the block’.
Once the tour was over, the final part of our trip took place; the prisoner question and answer session. Each prisoner explained their life story. They described their upbringings, gave information on their offences, and spoke about prison life. The prisoners were open and honest with students and really encouraged them to ask questions which created a brilliant learning opportunity. Although nervous at first, students began to ask lots of great questions and the conversation flowed well but unfortunately time constraints meant the visit had to come to an end.
The visit to HMP Humber turned out to be a fantastic and unique learning opportunity for all. Students were engaged throughout the visit and gave nothing but positive feedback. The prison staff and prisoners all did a great job in assisting the learning of the students and making them feel welcome and safe. I would highly recommend this educational visit to anyone studying law/criminal justice studies etc and look forward to taking the next group from Leeds City College!