The country’s leading assessment organisation says Level 2 Project Qualifications are the ‘missing bridge’ between a traditional academic curriculum and opportunities to develop practical skills.
AQA says the qualifications could be the answer to the competing visions for the knowledge and skills required at Key Stage 4, as they focus on developing deep knowledge of a subject as well as involving a range of research, practical and project management skills.
A Level 2 Project Qualification is taken by students who wish to undertake in-depth independent research into something about which they’re passionate. It’s usually taken alongside other pre-16 qualifications, both academic and vocational.
Level 3 Project Qualifications – also known as Extended Project Qualifications (EPQs) – which provide an opportunity for students to extend their abilities beyond the A-level syllabus and prepare for university or their future career, have been linked by some universities to improved results and Higher Education prospects.
However, although many younger students also complete the Level 2 equivalent of EPQs, this qualification has not received the same level of interest in policy debate.
AQA says policymakers could explore whether increased uptake of the qualification could be used to give more students an opportunity to acquire both deep knowledge of a subject and specific skills in the process.
James Lloyd, AQA’s Head of Policy and Public Affairs, said:
“Everyone knows about Extended Project Qualifications, but we think it’s time for a greater focus on Level 2 Project Qualifications as they provide a ‘missing bridge’ between academic knowledge and practical skills.
“Level 2 Project Qualifications give GCSE students the opportunity to go deeper into a topic within their academic studies, but also the chance to develop skills they can apply elsewhere, such as using sources and research material, and learning to independently make decisions about their own work.
“They’ll also learn valuable life and work skills, such as dealing with failure and adapting their plans.”
AQA has made these recommendations in its policy briefing paper 'The Power of Deep Knowledge'.