Extended Project Qualification
At KS5, students have the opportunity to complete the Extended Project Qualification (Level 3). The purpose of Project Qualifications is to establish and develop skills that students can take with them as they progress through their education. For example, all students undertaking the Extended Project Qualification will produce a formal academic report, developing writing skills that will be of immense value. The Extended Project Qualification will develop and extend students’ skills that will enhance attainment in their sixth form studies and beyond.
Key benefits of the EPQ:
- develop and improve their own learning and performance as critical, reflective and independent students
- develop and apply decision-making and problem-solving skills
- extend their planning, research, critical thinking, analysis, synthesis, evaluation and presentation skills
- develop and apply skills creatively, demonstrating initiative and enterprise.
- use their learning experiences to support their aspirations for further study and/or career development.
- transfer skills developed as part of their project to other areas of study.
Students are taught a programme of skills, such as: research methods, referencing, how to write in an academic register. This is delivered through a range of taught sessions in school and also online MOOCs and lectures at local higher education institutions.
Students are required, with appropriate supervision, to:
- choose an area of interest
- draft a title and aims of the project for formal approval by the centre
- plan, research and carry out the project
- deliver a presentation to a non specialist audience
- provide evidence of all stages of project development and production for assessment.
Students apply these learned skills to a project that is unique. At Level 3, this independent working is expected to be at least 90 hours. However, the independent working of students is supervised throughout; students are not sent away to ‘get on with it’. Project Supervisors meet one to one each week with students to teach skills and support the planning, research, writing, presenting and reflecting stages of the process. Project Qualifications provide a great opportunity for students looking to enhance their skills by studying at home or outside the timetable or school environment.
The qualification provides students with an opportunity to delve into an area of genuine interest. There are clear guidelines concerning the appropriateness of research topic titles. As part of the Qualification they receive taught/timetabled input into effective research methods, referencing, planning and presenting although the main onus is placed on the student.
By the end of the course, students demonstrate research competency and increased confidence in delivering presentations. They have been exposed to undergraduate style academic writing and have been able to study an area of personal interest in some depth.
Undertaking an EPQ also delivers other benefits for students such as increasing student motivation by allowing them to study topics of personal interest and enabling students to apply their new skills to other areas of study. Student evaluations have acknowledged their enjoyment of the intellectual challenge and the satisfaction they felt in studying a project over which they had control of the subject matter.
The Extended Project differentiates those students with intellectual curiosity and provides a fantastic focal point for university or job interviews, as well as showing a willingness to accept an intellectual challenge. Increasingly students find that University offers are lowered if an EPQ is successfully completed at a B grade or higher. It will certainly develop transferable research skills and universities and employers value the head start that it provides for young people’s ability to manage large independent projects or pieces of work.
At Weatherhead, some of our Oxbridge offers have gone to students who have studied the EPQ. They have all spoken about how they felt it enhanced their interview as they were able to show critical thinking, reflection and a genuine passion for their topic.