Outstanding EPQs give pupils the edgeJanuary 28, 2020
Burgess Hill Girls is celebrating another year of outstanding results in the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Now an integral part of the Sixth Form ‘BOLD Programme’ – a consolidated curriculum covering both academic and non-academic pursuits – all students take the EPQ in Year 12 alongside their A levels. From this year’s cohort, 95% received either an A or an A*, with over 60% of students achieving an A*.
The EPQ gives students the opportunity to study a subject of their own choosing in depth, engaging in extensive academic research to create an original and unique report or artefact. Burgess Hill Girls’ students completed projects ranging from 5,000 word essays to a scientific report on emotional response to music and a dramatic performance on a contemporary social issue. One of the great benefits of completing the EPQ in Year 12 is that students can include results with their applications to universities, many of whom reduce their grade requirements for pupils with strong EPQs.
The exam board credited the school’s entries for the wide range of interesting topics and the enthusiasm demonstrated by the students. Research titles “were clear and posed questions to which one genuinely wanted to know the answers”, with “clear and complex research” the result.
The students were excited to talk about the content of their own projects. Sorrel, who holds offers for Marine Biology from Southampton and Plymouth, explored the contemporary environmental challenges facing coral reefs, achieving an A*. Sorrel said: “My A levels give me the chance to explore the impact climate changes are having on global ecosystems, but through the EPQ I was able to explore one specific area to a much greater level, developing my own perspectives along with my expertise.”
Bella, who plans to take up an industry apprenticeship next year, studied the future of the US-based SeaWorld organisation in the wake of expanding public awareness concerning animals in captivity. Her searching and insightful evaluation of the business’s future secured an A*. For Bella, “the EPQ gave me the opportunity to explore how changing social values have impacted existing tourist attractions, and consider meaningful questions in an area of interest to me outside of my A level studies.”
Natasha, holding offers from Oxford, York and Exeter for Philosophy, Politics and Economics, focused her project on the renationalisation of Britain’s railways. Her project received 50 out of 50. Natasha said: “I had been intrigued by the importance of this issue in recent elections and, knowing it provided a way to explore the arguments about state versus market provision, relished the chance to come to my own conclusions.” For Natasha, York lowered her grade requirements due to holding the EPQ, a decision more and more universities are making as the qualification is recognised more widely.
Amy, who wrote an A* project on whether psychopathy is adaptive, and intends to read Psychology, has received three university offers with lower grade requirements because she has at least an A grade EPQ. “Completing my EPQ has meant that I can anticipate the quality of work expected at university. I am planning to take Psychology as a degree next year and completing my project on psychopathy has confirmed that this is the right choice.”
Jenny Scopes, the school’s Project Coordinator and Deputy Head of Sixth Form, said: “It is fabulous to give the students the opportunity to find an area of academia they feel particularly inspired by. The value of the EPQ lies in the key skills the students develop; selecting and applying academic research to respond to a posed argument and reaching an evidence-based conclusion. These are all hugely relevant to life in general but particularly to degree level study. We want our students to arrive at university ready to embrace all the academic opportunities they will be offered.”
Burgess Hill Girls’ Head Liz Laybourn said: “The EPQ can be transformational for the girls, giving them the opportunity to become experts in a field of their choosing. This level of success is exactly what we have come to expect of our outstanding sixth formers.”