AQA calls on MPs to include project qualifications in their education plans

Published: Friday 21 Apr 2023

We're calling on politicians across the house to give project qualifications a greater role in their education plans.

Our call comes in support of the proposal in the report published today by the education think tank EDSK to give schools and colleges the resources they need to expand their 16-19 curriculum to include the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).

The proposal comes as part of the report’s conclusion that written exams should continue to be the main method for assessing students because of their many benefits, including limited scope for malpractice, but these benefits can be combined with the strength of other forms of assessment such as project qualifications.

AQA also advocates retaining externally marked exams as a core part of our assessment toolkit, and is the main way we can mitigate the problems associated with artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT.

We want to see a substantial increase in the numbers of learners doing project qualifications, and believe they should be available to all young people.

Project qualifications are crucial in giving young people the breadth of curriculum and skills they need to thrive in further study and the world of work.

They include the standalone EPQ which is designed to extend and develop students' abilities beyond the A-level syllabus and prepare for university or their future career.

The EPQ is the most popular project qualification with around 38,500 completed last year. Level 1 and 2 project qualifications are becoming increasingly popular: in 2020 a combined total of around 3,000 were taken, and in 2022 that figure was over 4,500.

But these entry figures show that only a tiny proportion of young people are taking these qualifications. By comparison, last summer we awarded over 3 million GCSEs and around 400,000 A-levels.

Colin Hughes, AQA's Chief Executive, said:

"AQA's charitable purpose is to advance teaching and learning by providing the best possible educational assessment.

"We want to see more learners given the opportunity to take a project qualification. Research consistently shows that the EPQ, for example, is highly valued by universities and employers and can be the critical difference that gives students an edge and makes them stand out.

"But we're also calling for greater awareness of all project qualifications, for example the Level 1 and Level 2 Foundation and Higher Project Qualifications which are much less talked about.

"We hope the publication of the independent EDSK report kickstarts more discussion about project qualifications, and we’re very keen to hear from policymakers and stakeholders who want to join the conversation."

See all updates