About

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

CEO, AQA

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.

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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