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November 29th 2017

Spotlight on EPQ

Is the NHS in crisis? Is the universe infinite? How does being bilingual affect the brain? Mr B Crozier, takes us through EPQ and the questions that our girls try to address. 

Read more about what you can study during your time at Blackheath High's independent Sixth Form in London.

What is EPQ and what is covered in this subject? 
EPQ is the Extended Project Qualification which can be undertaken by girls in Year 12. It is an independently based project where students can choose a topic that they are interested in and research it for a whole year. By end of the year, the students have written a 5000-word essay or have created an artefact. Some girls have made their own musical instrument, written a play or researched why the French Revolution happened. It is based on whatever they are personally interested in so although it is not a compulsory subject, most of Year 12 undertake it.

EPQ is about learning different skills from undertaking research to creating surveys and interviewing people. It is about the learning journey – the student has to find the information and do everything themselves. They fill in a log book to show what problems they encountered and every fortnight, we discuss their progress. At the end of the year, they have to present their work and we review what went well and how they could have improved things. 

Can you give some examples of what students work on?
EPQ topics are wide-ranging. They can be very personal, an extension of a hobby or subject they are studying, or even based on books they have read. For example, ‘Is the universe infinite?’, ‘Are comic books sexist?’ and ‘Is the NHS in crisis?’. We have to advise them on whether they are going to be able to find information on their chosen topic. At the moment, the girls are currently at the research stage and one girl is researching scientific journals at the British Library to understand how being bilingual affects the brain.

What are the benefits of studying EPQ?
Students gain the confidence to work independently and creatively, and learn skills such as undertaking research, appropriately referencing, essay writing and delivering presentations. The girls can also demonstrate a love for learning to prospective universities and employers. 

What are the benefits of studying EPQ at Blackheath? 
Although EPQ is offered at other schools, it is given to teachers who do not primarily focus on EPQ. At Blackheath High, girls have an EPQ supervisor whose main concern is EPQ. The fact that I have taught a wide range of subjects also helps. Last year, 100% of our students achieved a grade A-A*. 

Is there a particular aspect of the course that students tend to enjoy?
Students enjoy the fact that they come out with a finished product that is entirely of their own creation. They come up with the idea, are responsible for its creation and have to explain it to everyone. They get a real sense of ownership. Our girls are driven, determined and organised young ladies!

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