Southampton City College and BAPCA
United Kingdom

Earlier this year I completed a College Certificate Level 3 in Person-Centred Counselling, the course was changed at the last minute from an ABC Level 3 . The ABC course was 140 hours, 36 weeks + a Saturday a term for Personal Development (PD). The new course was 20 weeks, 60 hours to include the one morning allocated for PD . I am very aware of having a word count but let me list just a few of the many problems experienced by the first group through the course.

1. The course no longer being outside accredited resulted in a sense that the students had better please the tutor as she was solely responsible for grades, reports and future references. This had a detrimental effect on group process with students feeling it really was not OK to be themselves or to question anything. I however, took the risk, believing myself to be in a person-centred environment where authenticity and openness would be valued rather than imposed 'conditions of worth'.

2. By Week 15 ( 1 week before tapes were due in) we had had 5 sessions of skills practise, that is 5 minutes listening practise each, 25 minutes total and the tutor had not undertaken any observations. On Week 15 two people were observed and told they would have failed! I wrote to the college and 2 weeks later (!!) the tutor produced a booklet on: ' How to pass the tape part of your Counselling Skills assignment'.

The tutor became very defensive when questioned on her expectations saying: “Students always have this problem getting a tape in”. However, previous students had 60 Guided Learning Hours for Skills so if they struggled to get a tape what chance did we have with 5 weeks or 25 minutes of skills practise? The tutor said: “I am marking at a lower level than the ABC”. However, this simply was not the case, the ABC had a broad spectrum marking base for tapes which would not have resulted in students with 20 minutes of listening practise being told they would fail for a 21 minute tape that did not have 5 skills etc.. In the end the tutor adjusted her expectations and people who had been told their tapes would 'scrape through' or 'fail' ended up with Merits!

3. The course overlapped with the start of the Degree, we had been told we could run the two courses together. The Student Handbook said we had to have Merits or Distinctions in all assignments to get on the Degree + a placement. However, a student was accepted on the Degree with a Unit 1 Pass and a Unit 2 fail and no listening practise or a chance of getting a placement 10 weeks into a Level 3. Again I questioned the college and at this point the Assessment Criteria was changed to accommodate a student failing all assignments but getting on the Degree purely on the reference from the tutor. This resulted in the group feeling even less able to speak up or be themselves as whether they got on the Degree or a reference was solely down to the tutor not Assignments.

Throughout the course I achieved Merits and Distinctions for Assignments; I received positive affirmative written feedback from students and the tutor; I was appreciated within the group and despite the frequent e-mails to the college about various aspects of the course which resulted in course changing, I believed I had as good a relationship with the tutor as any other student.

College ended there was nothing to indicate I would get anything other than an overall Distinction; I have e-mails from students thanking me for all the changes my e-mails brought about and saying I should get a Distinction.

When my Certificate arrived however, I had been downgraded from Merits and Distinctions to a Pass/Merit and the tutor had written a dreadful report for which there is not only no evidence but plentiful evidence to the contrary.

I wrote to the college who should have immediately initiated an 'Appeals Procedure', to include an independent investigation; not only have the college refused to do this, but they said my overall grade was partly due to my use of the Facebook page. I have asked the college to what this refers as this was a private password protected page for Students, not tutors. This means a student must have breached confidentiality and taken something to the tutor which resulted in me being downgraded without either tutor or student speaking to me about this or even indicating there had been a problem. I have no idea what could be being referred to here in any case! However, if the Assessment Criteria had not been changed this could not have happened as clearly a students use of a facebook page had nothing to do with Assignments which is what the grades were supposed to allocated for. Don’t get me wrong I am delighted for the student with her 'pass' and 'fail' getting on the Degree, however, as a consequence I have been downgraded and made wrong for asking questions and left with no future in Counselling without trying to find another Level 3 course and starting all over again . Trying to find another Person-Centred Course I can afford has proven to be impossible.

We, the undersigned call on BAPCA, as the upholder of person-centred professional standards to ensure that Southampton City College initiates the 'Appeals Procedure' outlined in the Student Handbook to include an Independent investigation into:

i. how Assessment Criteria could be altered half way through a Level 3 Person-Centred Counselling Course from:

completed all assignments to a satisfactory/good/outstanding level AND demonstrated satisfactory/reasonable/excellent attitudes.

completed all assignments, assignments and/or attitudes assessed to a satisfactory/good/outstanding standard.

ii. how a student could be downgraded and a detrimental Report written when there is not only an absence of evidence of the tutor ever raising these issues with the student during the course, but plentiful evidence of affirmative and positive feedback from both peers and tutor throughout the course.

iii. how information from a private password protected Facebook page for students could have been allowed to impact on a students grade. It would seem a student had to breach confidentiality to bring this matter to the tutor yet neither student or tutor discussed this with the student before allowing this to impact on the students grade
BAPCA have written stating:

" Despite the wording in the e-petition BAPCA is not the regulator of standards in person-centred therapy in the UK"

I wonder who is then?
When I lodged the e-petition I was not aware of the link between the course leader and BAPCA CG ...yet for me this makes it all the more astonishing that BAPCA are REFUSING to ensure a person-centred independent investigation is immediately initiated into what went wrong and why, what could be lost by such an approach? I ask myself, "what would Carl Rogers have done?" I ask myself why an organisation like BAPCA would not want to ensure that courses reflected true person-centred values? I know I have done nothing wrong. I know the signatures on this e-petition reflect the TRUTH of me, as did my piece in ‘Renaissance’. I KNOW I am TRUST worthy and what has happened to me should not have happened on ANY college course let alone a person-centred one. If BAPCA and Southampton cannot begin to approach this e-pet from a pc-stance, then what chance has the person-centred community got of approaching the growing tensions in our world in order to help resolve conflicts, something that Carl Rogers was passionate about and something I feel passionately about and am wishing to explore despite Southampton blocking my educational path forward.

GoPetition respects your privacy.

The Person-Centred Appeals Procedure petition to Southampton City College and BAPCA was written by Kat Layard and is in the category Education at GoPetition.