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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Greater Manchester’s MBacc: What digital skills education could look like
Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, wants Greater Manchester’s digital sector to become ‘world-class’ employing 95,000 people by 2026. Creating a Greater Manchester Baccalaureate (MBacc) to guide technical education locally is central to his plans for developing highly-skilled, workplace-ready young people. But what skills will students need if they are to succeed in the digital era and how can schools teach them? John Sibbald, one of the mayor’s advisors in his MBacc planning group, thinks it is time to switch focus from teaching ‘digital skills’ to developing students ‘digital agency’ instead.
On-line and on-demand: The future for assessing Numeracy, Literacy and Digital Fluency?
Numeracy, Literacy and Digital Fluency are the skills that will ensure young people are prepared for the wider world when they leave education. AQA has published a new report proposing a new assessment, similar to a driving test, for all students including those who struggle in the current system. Author of “A, B, C, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3” Towards new assessments for Numeracy, Literacy and Digital Fluency, Adam Steedman Thake, AQA’s Policy and Evidence Manager, highlights key points from his report that illuminate the problem and signpost a much-needed solution.
Bacc again: A policy briefing on baccalaureate curriculum models
What could a baccalaureate look like in England? AQi explores some of the options.
Citizenship Studies: Inspiring civic responsibility
In a recent episode of Alistair Campbell and Rory Stewart’s popular podcast, ‘The Rest is Politics’, the pair discussed political education in school. Both spoke of their surprise at the lack of knowledge about government and the political process in students they had met and agreed the subject should be taught from an early age. But did they know that teachers already have a ready-made tool to do just that? Keen podcast listener and AQA’s Head of Curriculum for Citizenship Studies, Matt Narain, fills in the blanks to reveal how young people are being educated about the political sphere.