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Bringing together research, insight and ideas on assessment, qualifications and curriculum

Assessment

GCSE Maths and Numeracy: They don’t equal the same

Rishi Sunak's announcement that young people will be expected to study some form of maths until 18 sparked a huge debate. Adam Steedman Thake wonders what we are really speaking about when we get into the debate about mathsRead Moreicon / report

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Adaptive Assessment

Adaptive Assessment: A missing ingredient in the resit recipe?

The number of students resitting their maths GCSE is growing, but the proportion getting a grade 4 or higher is falling. This situation is not only dispiriting for the young people striving to get the qualifications they need, but also for the teachers working hard to help them. How can outcomes for this cohort be improved? Bart Crisp, associate director at the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education, thinks adaptive assessment may be part of the solution.

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SEND

Student success: Every little achievement counts

Baroness Morgan is calling for students to be given ‘self-belief’ lessons as a way of developing their characters and preparing them for the future. She is not the first to notice that a student’s sense of their own ability and their level of success are part of a virtuous circle. But how can teachers get the snowball rolling for students with SEND or in alternative provision? In this blog, former headteacher, John Tomsett, pulls out a swimming certificate he earned more than half a century ago to use as an inspiration for others.

Art and Design

Progress 8 – How much can it flex?

Progress 8 has come in for criticism in recent months for the way it combines with the Ebacc to skew schools’ focus towards academic subjects at the expense of creative and technical options. Both Labour and a Lords committee have called for reform to boost uptake of declining subjects such as D&T, dance and drama. In the second of two blogs looking at Progress 8, AQi examines whether the accountability measure could be realigned to address these concerns and if so, how could that be done?

Education Policy

Progress 8 – Schools’ flexible friend?

Eight years after Progress 8 came into existence it is facing calls to be updated. Some say reforming the schools accountability measure can halt the decline in take up of the arts, while others want it to boost numbers taking vocational and technical subjects. Are its shoulders broad enough to take on such a load? In the first of two blogs on Progress 8, AQi looks at how it came into being, what problems it was designed to solve and whether it is flexible enough to be reformed.

Assessment

2023: A year in review

As we wrap up a year full of exciting developments in education, it is the perfect time to take stock of what has gone on. In this blog, editor of AQi, Anil Dawar, reflects on some of his highlights for 2023.

Briefing

Levers of change: Ways that policymakers can shape the education system

With a general election looming there is much debate in the world of education about the next government’s decisions on what our children learn. But deciding this is only part of the issue for any new government. Just as important is understanding how they can actually implement those decisions. Knowing the advantages and drawbacks of all the different levers at government’s disposal is vital. In this blog, AQA’s head of external affairs Reza Schwitzer discusses what these levers are and their pros and cons.

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Assessment

Extended Project Qualifications: What do the statistics say about student growth?

A former student from Nottingham College won top prize in AQA’s Project Excellence Awards 2023/24 for her Extended Project Qualification on Queerness and Vampirism. Jessica Burton is now embarking on the next stage of her education journey on Cambridge University’s Foundation Year in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, thanks in part to the UCAS points earned through her EPQ. With that in mind, it seems the ideal moment for AQi to explore what the statistics say about how completing an EPQ can improve progression to Higher Education, degree course outcomes and social mobility.

Assessment

Digital exams: A chance to make assessment more accessible for all

A recent symposium on inclusive educational assessment at Hughes Hall, Cambridge, attracted experts from across the country. AQA lead researcher Dr Katy Finch was in the audience listening to leading academics from the fields of social exclusion, autism, dyslexia and neurodiversity. In this blog, Dr Finch draws on ideas discussed that day to deliberate on the opportunities digitising assessment offers those facing barriers in mainstream education and asks: Can we use Digital Exams as a chance to make assessment more inclusive for everyone?

Education

The Baker Reforms: What is their legacy 35 years on?

In 1988, Lord Baker created arguably the most important piece of education legislation since the war. The impact of the Education Reform Act is almost undeniably greater than anything that has come since. Its significance was immediately apparent but, if anything, it may be even more significant now. AQi investigates the legacy of the Baker education reforms 35 years on.

Assessment

Post exam analysis: How to improve student experience

Every year, once exam season ends, AQA experts look at student scripts to assess how well the exam papers were constructed. AQA’s 2023 Maths GCSE performed particularly well, even though grading returned to 2019 standards and the Advance Information used in 2022 was not there. Andrew Taylor, head of maths curriculum and Shaun Procter-Green, maths assessment lead, tell how their work redesigning the papers paid off, allowing students to better show off their skills.

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EDI

Assessment

Extended Project Qualifications: What do the statistics say about student growth?

A former student from Nottingham College won top prize in AQA’s Project Excellence Awards 2023/24 for her Extended Project Qualification on Queerness and Vampirism. Jessica Burton is now embarking on the next stage of her education journey on Cambridge University’s Foundation Year in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, thanks in part to the UCAS points earned through her EPQ. With that in mind, it seems the ideal moment for AQi to explore what the statistics say about how completing an EPQ can improve progression to Higher Education, degree course outcomes and social mobility.

Assessment

Digital exams: A chance to make assessment more accessible for all

A recent symposium on inclusive educational assessment at Hughes Hall, Cambridge, attracted experts from across the country. AQA lead researcher Dr Katy Finch was in the audience listening to leading academics from the fields of social exclusion, autism, dyslexia and neurodiversity. In this blog, Dr Finch draws on ideas discussed that day to deliberate on the opportunities digitising assessment offers those facing barriers in mainstream education and asks: Can we use Digital Exams as a chance to make assessment more inclusive for everyone?

Assessment

Let’s make it happen: The case for digital exams

AQA has published a new report outlining why now is the right time to start moving towards digital exams in some subjects. Making It Click: The case for digital examinations in England argues that far from being a revolutionary move, moving some exams off paper and onto the computer screen is the latest evolution in education in the same way that fountain pens replaced quills and scrolls morphed into printed books. In this blog, Adam Steedman-Thake, AQA’s Policy and Evidence Manager, gives the highlights of his report. He outlines the research that informed AQAs position and shows the benefits of digitally examining some subjects for learners, teachers and the education sector as a whole.

International Approaches

We can gain new ideas from the way other countries are developing their approaches education and assessment. We should be open to new concepts from outside and within.

Briefing

Bacc again: A policy briefing on baccalaureate curriculum models

What could a baccalaureate look like in England? AQi explores some of the options.

Briefing

Singapore: where is the poster child of global education heading now?

We look beyond the international league tables

Briefing

Finland: Educating the whole child

Making equality of opportunity the defining objective of a nation's educational strategy

Education Policy

Art and Design

Progress 8 – How much can it flex?

Progress 8 has come in for criticism in recent months for the way it combines with the Ebacc to skew schools’ focus towards academic subjects at the expense of creative and technical options. Both Labour and a Lords committee have called for reform to boost uptake of declining subjects such as D&T, dance and drama. In the second of two blogs looking at Progress 8, AQi examines whether the accountability measure could be realigned to address these concerns and if so, how could that be done?

Education Policy

Progress 8 – Schools’ flexible friend?

Eight years after Progress 8 came into existence it is facing calls to be updated. Some say reforming the schools accountability measure can halt the decline in take up of the arts, while others want it to boost numbers taking vocational and technical subjects. Are its shoulders broad enough to take on such a load? In the first of two blogs on Progress 8, AQi looks at how it came into being, what problems it was designed to solve and whether it is flexible enough to be reformed.

Briefing

Levers of change: Ways that policymakers can shape the education system

With a general election looming there is much debate in the world of education about the next government’s decisions on what our children learn. But deciding this is only part of the issue for any new government. Just as important is understanding how they can actually implement those decisions. Knowing the advantages and drawbacks of all the different levers at government’s disposal is vital. In this blog, AQA’s head of external affairs Reza Schwitzer discusses what these levers are and their pros and cons.

Education

The Baker Reforms: What is their legacy 35 years on?

In 1988, Lord Baker created arguably the most important piece of education legislation since the war. The impact of the Education Reform Act is almost undeniably greater than anything that has come since. Its significance was immediately apparent but, if anything, it may be even more significant now. AQi investigates the legacy of the Baker education reforms 35 years on.

Levelling Up

Education Policy

Progress 8 – Schools’ flexible friend?

Eight years after Progress 8 came into existence it is facing calls to be updated. Some say reforming the schools accountability measure can halt the decline in take up of the arts, while others want it to boost numbers taking vocational and technical subjects. Are its shoulders broad enough to take on such a load? In the first of two blogs on Progress 8, AQi looks at how it came into being, what problems it was designed to solve and whether it is flexible enough to be reformed.

Assessment

Extended Project Qualifications: What do the statistics say about student growth?

A former student from Nottingham College won top prize in AQA’s Project Excellence Awards 2023/24 for her Extended Project Qualification on Queerness and Vampirism. Jessica Burton is now embarking on the next stage of her education journey on Cambridge University’s Foundation Year in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, thanks in part to the UCAS points earned through her EPQ. With that in mind, it seems the ideal moment for AQi to explore what the statistics say about how completing an EPQ can improve progression to Higher Education, degree course outcomes and social mobility.

Briefing

On-screen Assessment in England’s Exam System

Exploring what on-screen assessment could mean for GCSE and A-Level students in England.

SEND

SEND

Student success: Every little achievement counts

Baroness Morgan is calling for students to be given ‘self-belief’ lessons as a way of developing their characters and preparing them for the future. She is not the first to notice that a student’s sense of their own ability and their level of success are part of a virtuous circle. But how can teachers get the snowball rolling for students with SEND or in alternative provision? In this blog, former headteacher, John Tomsett, pulls out a swimming certificate he earned more than half a century ago to use as an inspiration for others.

Assessment

Extended Project Qualifications: What do the statistics say about student growth?

A former student from Nottingham College won top prize in AQA’s Project Excellence Awards 2023/24 for her Extended Project Qualification on Queerness and Vampirism. Jessica Burton is now embarking on the next stage of her education journey on Cambridge University’s Foundation Year in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, thanks in part to the UCAS points earned through her EPQ. With that in mind, it seems the ideal moment for AQi to explore what the statistics say about how completing an EPQ can improve progression to Higher Education, degree course outcomes and social mobility.

Assessment

Digital exams: A chance to make assessment more accessible for all

A recent symposium on inclusive educational assessment at Hughes Hall, Cambridge, attracted experts from across the country. AQA lead researcher Dr Katy Finch was in the audience listening to leading academics from the fields of social exclusion, autism, dyslexia and neurodiversity. In this blog, Dr Finch draws on ideas discussed that day to deliberate on the opportunities digitising assessment offers those facing barriers in mainstream education and asks: Can we use Digital Exams as a chance to make assessment more inclusive for everyone?

Vocational Education

Strengthening vocational education is a significant force for improving standards and increasing equality of opportunity.

Art and Design

Progress 8 – How much can it flex?

Progress 8 has come in for criticism in recent months for the way it combines with the Ebacc to skew schools’ focus towards academic subjects at the expense of creative and technical options. Both Labour and a Lords committee have called for reform to boost uptake of declining subjects such as D&T, dance and drama. In the second of two blogs looking at Progress 8, AQi examines whether the accountability measure could be realigned to address these concerns and if so, how could that be done?

Education Policy

Progress 8 – Schools’ flexible friend?

Eight years after Progress 8 came into existence it is facing calls to be updated. Some say reforming the schools accountability measure can halt the decline in take up of the arts, while others want it to boost numbers taking vocational and technical subjects. Are its shoulders broad enough to take on such a load? In the first of two blogs on Progress 8, AQi looks at how it came into being, what problems it was designed to solve and whether it is flexible enough to be reformed.

Education

The Baker Reforms: What is their legacy 35 years on?

In 1988, Lord Baker created arguably the most important piece of education legislation since the war. The impact of the Education Reform Act is almost undeniably greater than anything that has come since. Its significance was immediately apparent but, if anything, it may be even more significant now. AQi investigates the legacy of the Baker education reforms 35 years on.

Briefing

Bacc again: A policy briefing on baccalaureate curriculum models

What could a baccalaureate look like in England? AQi explores some of the options.

Assessment

How and why do we assess students? What are the best approaches?

Adaptive Assessment

Adaptive Assessment: A missing ingredient in the resit recipe?

The number of students resitting their maths GCSE is growing, but the proportion getting a grade 4 or higher is falling. This situation is not only dispiriting for the young people striving to get the qualifications they need, but also for the teachers working hard to help them. How can outcomes for this cohort be improved? Bart Crisp, associate director at the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education, thinks adaptive assessment may be part of the solution.

Art and Design

Progress 8 – How much can it flex?

Progress 8 has come in for criticism in recent months for the way it combines with the Ebacc to skew schools’ focus towards academic subjects at the expense of creative and technical options. Both Labour and a Lords committee have called for reform to boost uptake of declining subjects such as D&T, dance and drama. In the second of two blogs looking at Progress 8, AQi examines whether the accountability measure could be realigned to address these concerns and if so, how could that be done?

Assessment

2023: A year in review

As we wrap up a year full of exciting developments in education, it is the perfect time to take stock of what has gone on. In this blog, editor of AQi, Anil Dawar, reflects on some of his highlights for 2023.

Briefing

Levers of change: Ways that policymakers can shape the education system

With a general election looming there is much debate in the world of education about the next government’s decisions on what our children learn. But deciding this is only part of the issue for any new government. Just as important is understanding how they can actually implement those decisions. Knowing the advantages and drawbacks of all the different levers at government’s disposal is vital. In this blog, AQA’s head of external affairs Reza Schwitzer discusses what these levers are and their pros and cons.

Assessment

Extended Project Qualifications: What do the statistics say about student growth?

A former student from Nottingham College won top prize in AQA’s Project Excellence Awards 2023/24 for her Extended Project Qualification on Queerness and Vampirism. Jessica Burton is now embarking on the next stage of her education journey on Cambridge University’s Foundation Year in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, thanks in part to the UCAS points earned through her EPQ. With that in mind, it seems the ideal moment for AQi to explore what the statistics say about how completing an EPQ can improve progression to Higher Education, degree course outcomes and social mobility.

Assessment

Digital exams: A chance to make assessment more accessible for all

A recent symposium on inclusive educational assessment at Hughes Hall, Cambridge, attracted experts from across the country. AQA lead researcher Dr Katy Finch was in the audience listening to leading academics from the fields of social exclusion, autism, dyslexia and neurodiversity. In this blog, Dr Finch draws on ideas discussed that day to deliberate on the opportunities digitising assessment offers those facing barriers in mainstream education and asks: Can we use Digital Exams as a chance to make assessment more inclusive for everyone?

Assessment

Post exam analysis: How to improve student experience

Every year, once exam season ends, AQA experts look at student scripts to assess how well the exam papers were constructed. AQA’s 2023 Maths GCSE performed particularly well, even though grading returned to 2019 standards and the Advance Information used in 2022 was not there. Andrew Taylor, head of maths curriculum and Shaun Procter-Green, maths assessment lead, tell how their work redesigning the papers paid off, allowing students to better show off their skills.

Assessment

Let’s make it happen: The case for digital exams

AQA has published a new report outlining why now is the right time to start moving towards digital exams in some subjects. Making It Click: The case for digital examinations in England argues that far from being a revolutionary move, moving some exams off paper and onto the computer screen is the latest evolution in education in the same way that fountain pens replaced quills and scrolls morphed into printed books. In this blog, Adam Steedman-Thake, AQA’s Policy and Evidence Manager, gives the highlights of his report. He outlines the research that informed AQAs position and shows the benefits of digitally examining some subjects for learners, teachers and the education sector as a whole.

Briefing

Bacc again: A policy briefing on baccalaureate curriculum models

What could a baccalaureate look like in England? AQi explores some of the options.

Report

Computer science and on-screen assessment: Lessons for policymakers

Evaluating the barriers and benefits to on-screen assessment among AQA A-level Computer Science teachers.

Briefing

On-screen Assessment in England’s Exam System

Exploring what on-screen assessment could mean for GCSE and A-Level students in England.

Report

Stepping Stone: the future of the EBacc and student progression

Over a decade since its inception, AQi explores whether the EBacc curriculum is the right stepping stone to post-16 study and training for pupils in England.

Briefing

Comparable Outcomes: Setting the standard?

What is the comparable outcomes framework, how does it underpin grade standards and are there alternatives?

Briefing

Functional Skills Qualifications: The first decade

Ten years after they were launched, this briefing looks at the future of Functional Skills Qualifications and the levelling-up agenda

Report

What Next for GCSEs?

The past, present and future of GCSEs

Education

Adaptive Assessment

Adaptive Assessment: A missing ingredient in the resit recipe?

The number of students resitting their maths GCSE is growing, but the proportion getting a grade 4 or higher is falling. This situation is not only dispiriting for the young people striving to get the qualifications they need, but also for the teachers working hard to help them. How can outcomes for this cohort be improved? Bart Crisp, associate director at the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education, thinks adaptive assessment may be part of the solution.

Briefing

Levers of change: Ways that policymakers can shape the education system

With a general election looming there is much debate in the world of education about the next government’s decisions on what our children learn. But deciding this is only part of the issue for any new government. Just as important is understanding how they can actually implement those decisions. Knowing the advantages and drawbacks of all the different levers at government’s disposal is vital. In this blog, AQA’s head of external affairs Reza Schwitzer discusses what these levers are and their pros and cons.

Assessment

Extended Project Qualifications: What do the statistics say about student growth?

A former student from Nottingham College won top prize in AQA’s Project Excellence Awards 2023/24 for her Extended Project Qualification on Queerness and Vampirism. Jessica Burton is now embarking on the next stage of her education journey on Cambridge University’s Foundation Year in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, thanks in part to the UCAS points earned through her EPQ. With that in mind, it seems the ideal moment for AQi to explore what the statistics say about how completing an EPQ can improve progression to Higher Education, degree course outcomes and social mobility.

Education

The Baker Reforms: What is their legacy 35 years on?

In 1988, Lord Baker created arguably the most important piece of education legislation since the war. The impact of the Education Reform Act is almost undeniably greater than anything that has come since. Its significance was immediately apparent but, if anything, it may be even more significant now. AQi investigates the legacy of the Baker education reforms 35 years on.

Technology

Technology will play a greater role in education and assessment. We must learn how to maximise its positive impact.

Adaptive Assessment

Adaptive Assessment: A missing ingredient in the resit recipe?

The number of students resitting their maths GCSE is growing, but the proportion getting a grade 4 or higher is falling. This situation is not only dispiriting for the young people striving to get the qualifications they need, but also for the teachers working hard to help them. How can outcomes for this cohort be improved? Bart Crisp, associate director at the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education, thinks adaptive assessment may be part of the solution.

Assessment

Let’s make it happen: The case for digital exams

AQA has published a new report outlining why now is the right time to start moving towards digital exams in some subjects. Making It Click: The case for digital examinations in England argues that far from being a revolutionary move, moving some exams off paper and onto the computer screen is the latest evolution in education in the same way that fountain pens replaced quills and scrolls morphed into printed books. In this blog, Adam Steedman-Thake, AQA’s Policy and Evidence Manager, gives the highlights of his report. He outlines the research that informed AQAs position and shows the benefits of digitally examining some subjects for learners, teachers and the education sector as a whole.

Report

Computer science and on-screen assessment: Lessons for policymakers

Evaluating the barriers and benefits to on-screen assessment among AQA A-level Computer Science teachers.

Briefing

On-screen Assessment in England’s Exam System

Exploring what on-screen assessment could mean for GCSE and A-Level students in England.

The Role of the Teacher

Teachers are central to educational improvement. How do we continuously improve the skills of our teaching cadre?

Adaptive Assessment

Adaptive Assessment: A missing ingredient in the resit recipe?

The number of students resitting their maths GCSE is growing, but the proportion getting a grade 4 or higher is falling. This situation is not only dispiriting for the young people striving to get the qualifications they need, but also for the teachers working hard to help them. How can outcomes for this cohort be improved? Bart Crisp, associate director at the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education, thinks adaptive assessment may be part of the solution.

SEND

Student success: Every little achievement counts

Baroness Morgan is calling for students to be given ‘self-belief’ lessons as a way of developing their characters and preparing them for the future. She is not the first to notice that a student’s sense of their own ability and their level of success are part of a virtuous circle. But how can teachers get the snowball rolling for students with SEND or in alternative provision? In this blog, former headteacher, John Tomsett, pulls out a swimming certificate he earned more than half a century ago to use as an inspiration for others.

Briefing

Levers of change: Ways that policymakers can shape the education system

With a general election looming there is much debate in the world of education about the next government’s decisions on what our children learn. But deciding this is only part of the issue for any new government. Just as important is understanding how they can actually implement those decisions. Knowing the advantages and drawbacks of all the different levers at government’s disposal is vital. In this blog, AQA’s head of external affairs Reza Schwitzer discusses what these levers are and their pros and cons.

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