The year began with a bang as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak used his first speech of 2023 to reveal he wanted all pupils to study ‘some form of maths’ until the age of 18. Achieving that could mean the creation of ‘innovative’ new qualifications. AQi had some acute analysis about the issue from AQA’s Policy and Research Manager Adam Steedman Thake.
That was followed soon after by a quietly radical speech by the Singaporean education minister. When the man in charge of a world beating system says it needs reforming, we better listen, said Tim Ewington in his penetrating article.
To mark a parliamentary reception for AQA’s invaluable Student Advisory Group, Alison Chang, the SAG co-chair wrote a fascinating blog about the how group’s work informs positive change in education.
Another impressive sixth former, Heather Heathcote, also contributed to AQi with a piece about devising, researching and writing her Extended Project Qualification on animal welfare which won first prize in the inaugural Student Research Project Awards.
By May, the Summer exam series was underway. The big talking point was how would ‘grade boundaries’ return to ‘normal’ after three years of disruption caused by lockdown. Thankfully, AQA’s Standards and Awarding Manager Elizabeth Pope, was on hand to explain exactly how that would happen.
June’s post exam wash up had several startling revelations.
The first was that computing is the fastest growing GCSE and second-fastest at A level. This prompted Steve Kenny, AQA’s head of curriculum for Computer Science to investigate what lay behind the astonishing rise.
Another interesting set of figures to emerge were those showing the attainment gap between girls and boys was closing after growing steadily since the 1980s. AQi examined what effect O Levels, GCSEs and Teacher Assessed Grades had on the Attainment Gender Gap.
AQi’s final piece of post-exam analysis came courtesy of AQA’s maths curriculum experts Shaun Procter-Green and Andrew Taylor who wrote about how their work redesigning the GCSE papers improved student exam experiences in 2023.
July was a scorcher as was the 13th annual Festival of Education at Wellington College where AI was the dominant topic. My three days listening to a stellar cast of speakers, including Daisy Christodoulou, AQA’s Alex Scharaschkin and Chris Packham, was so insightful I wrote a blog about what I learned there.
While I was in Berkshire for the festival, Sir Kier Starmer was in Kent making a major speech on how Labour would approach education if elected. AQi ran blogs on his plans to break down the divide between general and vocational education and improve oracy skills.
Sir Kier’s praise of music lessons for improving wider student attainment prompted AQA’s in-house drummer Adam Steedman Thake to look at the evidence surrounding his claims.
October was a busy month for AQA which published two major reports. AQi ran blogs about both. The first, on numeracy, literacy and digital fluency, proposed new on-line and on-demand assessments for all students. The second, made the case for having digital exams which Adam Steedman-Thake neatly summed up the highlights in this blog.
Finally, to go out on a note of good cheer, a symposium on inclusive educational assessment left AQA’s lead researcher Dr Katy Finch convinced that the advent of digital exams will be a chance to improve assessment for students with SEND.
All in all my first year as editor of AQi.org.uk has been a full and fascinating one. I hope you have all enjoyed the site’s offerings.
Have a wonderful break and see you back here in 2024.
In the meantime if you have any questions about what we do, suggestions for future content or want to offer contributions for consideration please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org