AQA launches Student Advisory Group at parliamentary reception

Published: Thursday 16 Jan 2020

We launched our new Student Advisory Group at a parliamentary reception on 15 January, entitled ‘Celebrating the voice of students in the exam system’.

Last year we launched a search for a Student Advisory Group to provide our Board of Trustees with a young person’s perspective on key areas of assessment, such as the use of technology and the design of question papers.

The 15 students were chosen from over 60 who applied from across the country and they will meet throughout the year, providing us with their own and their peers’ insights.

The event was attended by MPs, peers, guests from the wider education community, AQA staff and the newly selected members of the Student Advisory Group. The Rt Hon Robert Goodwill MP, sponsor of the event, gave a short address where he mentioned his own experiences of education, how important it is that people can trust in the exam system and how good it was to see students being engaged like this.

Mark Bedlow, AQA Chief Executive, commented on the changing landscape of exams and how interactions between exam boards and students have changed dramatically in recent years where now we have direct interaction, mostly through social media.

AQA Trustee Elizabeth Kitcatt, also the group’s sponsoring trustee, said how impressed she was with all the applicants and how proud she is to be part of the first exam board to engage students in this way. She added it was very fitting to launch this group in the Houses of Parliament, and that much like the new MPs, they will be representing their fellow students from across from the country to help AQA understand what it's like to take exams from a young person's perspective and help inform our decision making.

The final speaker was Ellen Blacker, Chair of the new Student Advisory Group. Ellen spoke about the need for young people to have a say in their education and the group's hopes that they can 'help build a framework for a dynamic way for young people to engage with the very exams that will shape their lives; and to help young people realise their potential'.

Asked about the event, Ellen said:

"Tonight’s event was a fantastic way to launch the Student Advisory Group and it’s great that AQA have taken this step to engage students.

“I can’t wait to start working with the other members of the group and with AQA, to help shape the future of exams.”

Mark Bedlow, AQA’s interim Chief Executive, added:

“Students and exam boards interact on a greater level than ever before and it’s important that we listen to them. We know that students find exams increasingly stressful and at times very challenging, therefore it is important that we learn from their experiences of assessment.

“So we need to keep the connection and the lines of communication open with young people in assessment, which is what we hope the Student Advisory Group will allow us to do.

“This parliamentary reception is about young people engaging with those who have an impact on their education and their futures. We hope they will learn a lot from being part of the Student Advisory Group, and we also hope to learn a lot from them too.”

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