We held our first virtual Student Advisory Group reception this month to welcome four new members to the group and announce the new chair for this year, Victoria Wong.
AQA's Student Advisory Group gives young people, who are still in school, a voice in the exam system. Made up of 15 selected students that meets three to four times a year, the aim of the group is to provide AQA with students’ insights and perspectives on key areas of assessment and help us to make important decisions about the future of exams.
The pandemic meant we were unable to hold the event at the House of Commons as we did when launching the group last year. Instead, we hosted an evening of discussion and idea sharing on Zoom. It was also a chance for all the new members to get to meet each other and some of the people they would be working with over the coming year.
The event was opened by AQA‘s Chief Executive, Colin Hughes, and attended by all members of the Student Advisory Group, some AQA staff and Trustees, and MP for Liverpool Riverside, Kim Johnson, who was also our guest speaker.
Elizabeth Kitcatt, the AQA Trustee responsible for the Student Advisory Group, and new chair of the group, Victoria Wong, led the introductions and explained the purpose of the evening. Elizabeth then shared some of what the group has been working on over the past 12 months and thanked them for the valuable input they had provided to AQA.
The participants then divided into breakout sessions where each group was posed one of the following questions:
There was plenty of insightful and interesting discussion among the young people. They not only talked about what they would like to see in schools and from exam boards, but also how the recent impact of the pandemic had changed their views on some things. One in particular was how assessment is structured and what could be done to modernise qualifications to combine a greater variety of knowledge and skills.
The students also mentioned the value and importance of those day-to-day human interactions that are currently missing from their education and how the pastoral side of education is just as important to them as the learning.
The discussion groups certainly gave everyone a lot to think about and raised some very interesting ideas and possibilities for the future.
Kim Johnson, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, was the final speaker of the evening. Kim began by saying how fantastic it was to see so many young people there and taking an interest, especially in the current climate. She also reflected on how the current crisis has impacted on young people and their education, and how impressed and amazed she has been at how communities have pulled together to support each other and keep schools open, ensuring young people have access to education.
Colin Hughes, AQA‘s Chief Executive Officer, said:
“It was a huge pleasure to meet for the first time with our Student Advisory Group. Though obviously it’s a shame not to meet face-to-face (I’m sure we’ll do that as soon as we’re allowed!).
"The evening was eye-opening and enlightening, and a powerful reminder of the impact that this pandemic is having on the young people who are, when it comes down to it, the ultimate users and beneficiaries of what we do.
"They offered some really valuable and penetrating insights, which we will take into account when we think about what we can do to improve our service and support young people.”
New chair of the Student Advisory Group, Victoria Wong, said of the evening:
“Although everyone couldn’t meet in person, we had a fantastic evening filled with lively and engaging discussions. I very much enjoyed meeting the new members of the group, as well as joining old members and AQA staff. I’m looking forward to see what exciting themes will come to fruition in 2021.”
The event was closed by Michael Turner, AQA’s Director of Corporate Affairs, who thanked everyone for coming and for their contributions to a wonderful evening.