AQA and AoC celebrate new EPQ award
26th January 2023
AQA and the Association of Colleges (AoC) celebrated some of the amazing extended project qualifications by students from AoC member colleges with a special event at AQA’s London office.
Students, parents and teachers, joined AQA and AoC for this inaugural award to recognise the incredible and fascinating work these young people have produced in their extended project qualifications – or EPQs as they are also known.
The new and exciting award created by AoC in partnership with AQA, was launched last summer and open to all AoC colleges and students doing an EPQ with any exam board, not just AQA.
Colleges were invited to submit their most interesting and exciting student research projects from higher and extended project qualifications.
40 entries were shortlisted down to a final nine, that went before an expert EPQ judging panel to select the winner and runners-up. Entries were assessed on a number of criteria including:
· originality of proposal
· approach to research tenacity, resilience in face of difficulties, leaving no stone unturned in their investigation
· engagement with the project process – e.g. planning, monitoring, research, synthesis, reaching evidence-based conclusions, evaluation and reflection.
AQA’s Chief Executive, Colin Hughes, opened the evening’s proceedings and touched on the growing recognition for project qualifications, particularly among universities, and the improved outcomes research has shown they provide to students who take them.
Jen Osler, AQA’s Head of Curriculum Portfolio, introduced the final nine projects which ranged from ‘What would be the most appropriate energy source to support the colonisation of Mars?’ to ‘How have concerns for animal welfare impacted on the regulation of UK hen farming for egg production?’. Eddie Playfair, Senior Policy manager at AoC (and one of the judges) also spoke to endorse the quality of the students’ projects, and the value of the EPQ.
There were three runner-up spots that went to Josie Wilma Brown of Thomas Rotherham College for her project entitled ‘Is it time to rewrite the constitution of the United States of America?’; Grace Parriss of Cardinal Newman College, with her project ‘What is the effect of rape myths in the attrition of rape cases?’; and Dalia Hasan also of Cardinal Newman College for her project on ‘How has media manipulation in the American media effected the Israeli Palestinian conflict?’.
The overall winner was Heather Heathcote, of John Leggott College in Scunthorpe, with her project ‘Cages through the ages: How have concerns for animal welfare impacted on the regulation of UK hen farming for egg production?’, that was inspired by her adoption of three former battery hens via a rescue foundation, that were due to be destroyed.
As well as a certificate, the AoC Charitable Trust donated prizes of £100 for the winner, while the runners-up got £50 each.
Speaking about the new EPQ award, Jen Osler said: “AQA is delighted to support this award and we would love to see more young people take an Extended Project Qualification. “There was an amazing variety of interesting and engaging topics presented to the judges, that these students were clearly very passionate about. Each one of the final nine projects were inspiring and incredibly well thought out, which made judging very difficult. “The EPQ gives students the freedom to research a topic of their choice, and helps when transitioning to the next stage of education by equipping them with the skills they need to research, study, manage large projects and present complex ideas in effective and persuasive ways.”
Eddie Playfair, Senior Policy Manager at AoC, said: “I’d like to congratulate all the students who reached the final stage of the award process. We were so impressed by the variety, quality and originality of all these projects. “These young people have really followed their interests and have produced outstanding work which addresses important questions.”
Winning student Heather Heathcote, of John Leggott College, said of the EPQ: “Doing an EPQ was brilliant, I was able to develop my own research and improve my skills on a topic I’m passionate about. There’s a big jump from GCSE to A-level learning and the EPQ has definitely helped me with my other studies. “It’s improved my time management and how I structure my learning, and my ability to look at things from balanced perspective and critically analyse a subject or scenario. I would highly recommend doing a project qualification to all students.”
Heather’s teacher, Luke Hickman, added: “The EPQ is a fantastic way for students to develop independent learning and project management skills that will help them not only with post-college education, but in all their future endeavours. “Being a project of their own choosing, students have the freedom to explore a topic or theme they are really passionate about and that is definitely something that has come through from Heather with her winning project and we are all immensely proud of her.”
The final projects
· Is it time to rewrite the constitution of the United States of America? – Josie Wilma Brown, Thomas Rotherham College
· What would be the most appropriate energy source to support the colonisation of Mars? - Zachary William Edwards, Newcastle and Stafford College
· How has media manipulation in the American media effected the Israeli Palestinian conflict? - Dalia Hasan, Cardinal Newman College
· Cages through the ages: How have concerns for animal welfare impacted on the regulation of UK hen farming for egg production? - Heather Heathcote, John Leggott College
· To what extent has genetics and selective breeding changed the horse racing industry? - James Knowles, Esher Sixth Form College
· To what extent do news values constitute a form of censorship? - Jaenae Lynch, Christ the King St Mary’s
· To what extent is the lack of black doctors and midwives increasing the number of black women dying during childbirth? - Samantha Omilabu, Christ the King St Mary’s
· What is the effect of rape myths in the attrition of rape cases? - Grace Parriss, Cardinal Newman College
· To what extent has the Ancient Classical portrayal of women influenced contemporary representations of women in literature? - Isabella Thieme, Esher Sixth Form College
There are discussions between AoC and AQA on developing this award further going forward. If you’d like to learn more about the EPQ, check out AQA's dedicated EPQ webpage or contact the AQA projects team.