Welcome to AQi.

We at AQA believe that educational assessment must meet the demands of economic and social change, driven in part by rapidly changing technologies, while maintaining reliability and public trust.

Navigating this complex environment requires high-quality analysis of the best evidence, and being open to testing diverse ideas and perspectives.

As an education charity, we have created AQi to bring together research and insight, argument and ideas, on assessment and qualifications - because we are acutely aware that high quality curriculum delivery is intimately bound up with excellent assessment.

AQi’s aim is to advance understanding of assessment, and to inform discussion and debate. We want to link research and its application to the real world, in the interests of students and teachers alike.

AQA CEO Colin Hughes Profile Picture
AQA CEO Colin Hughes Profile Signature

Colin Hughes


What is the AQi?

AQi is an online hub for insight, data and new thinking on the future of assessment and qualifications.

We publish blogs, discussion papers and briefings, explore data and convene events.

AQi’s mission is to inform, stimulate and provide a neutral platform for debate, bringing together different points of view on policy and practice.

AQi is hosted and curated by AQA, an independent educational charity with a hundred-year history in assessment and qualifications.

Getting in touch

We would love to hear from you particularly if you have interesting experiences, research or insights that you would like to share with us or the wider AQi community. Just email us at info@aqi.org.uk, or follow us on Twitter.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Education Policy

Labour’s oracy plans: They need clear goals

Sir Keir Starmer has said he wants to boost students’ confidence by raising the importance of speaking skills – oracy. In this previously published blog, Reza Schwitzer, AQA’s director of external affairs, applauds the ambition but warns there needs to be clear goals

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Education Policy

Through the looking glass: How polling the public can help policymakers learn about themselves

Public attitude data is key to effective policymaking. Proper polling can reveal what people think about existing policies and what they want for the future. But, if looked at from a different angle, it can also help policymakers question themselves and their assumptions about the public. In this blog, AQA’s Policy and Evidence Manager Adam Steedman-Thake, reveals the lessons he learned about himself while reading a recent public attitude survey.


Assessing oracy: Is Comparative Judgement the answer?

Oracy skills are vital to success in school and life. And yet, for many children, opportunities to develop them are missed. Educationalists are engaging in a growing debate about where oracy fits into the school system. Labour has put it at the heart of its plans to improve social mobility and an independent commission is looking at how it is taught in the classroom. This renewed focus on oracy means it is more important than ever that teachers have a way to reliably assess and understand their students’ attainment and progression. Amanda Moorghen of oracy education charity Voice 21 explains how Comparative Judgement can help with that and why it may be a game changer.


TV subtitles as an aid to literacy: What does the research say?

Jack Black is probably best known in educational circles for playing a renegade substitute teacher in School of Rock. But the Hollywood star has made a more conventional foray into education by backing the use of TV subtitles to improve child literacy. Stephen Fry and the World Literacy Foundation also want parents to use their TV remotes to get children reading. So, could this simple click of a button be a solution to boost pupils’ reading skills? AQA’s resident expert on language teaching, Dr Katy Finch, casts her eye over the research to see whether it stacks up.

Data Analysis

What is left behind now education’s Data Wave has receded?

Is data the solution to all education’s issues? About a decade ago the prevailing wisdom said it was. Advocates of this Data Wave argued that harvesting internal statistics would help schools solve issues such as teacher accountability and attainment gaps. As with all waves, after crashing onto the beach they recede, leaving space for another to roll in. In this blog, teacher, author and data analyst Richard Selfridge looks at the legacy of the Data Wave to see what schools can take from it.

International Approaches

Finland & PISA – A fall from grace but still a high performer?

Finland was once recognised as one of the most successful educational systems in the world. At the turn of the millennium, it topped the PISA rankings in reading, maths and science. But by 2012, decline set in. The last set of results showed performances in maths, reading and science were at an all-time low. In this blog Dr Jonathan Doherty of Leeds Trinity University outlines some reasons that may account for the slide.


PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS: What actually are they and what do they tell us?

According to the latest PISA results, England’s science scores are still on a downward trajectory that started a decade ago. Yet TIMSS, another respected study, has science performances rising. Which of them is right? Is one more valid than the other? In this blog AQi examines three International Large-Scale Assessments and finds that, although they may look the same from a distance, get up close and you’ll find they are very different beasts.

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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.


Student success: Every milestone matters

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.


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?

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