“ASDAN’s Extended Project Qualification made me realise that university is an attainable goal.”
The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is a nationally recognised qualification at Level 3 developing independent study skills for progression to higher education and employment. The qualification carries up to 18 performance table points and 28 UCAS points.
18-year-old Rory and Learning Support Practitioner, Andrew, tell us about how the EPQ helps prepare learners for their future, and demonstrate how it can be accessible and lead to a positive outcome for learners with autism.
A project to be passionate about
The EPQ is a single piece of work that requires a high degree of planning, preparation, research and autonomous working. With support from their tutor, learners can choose a subject and shape a project that really excites them to help keep them engaged throughout the course.
“You never really get to do a big independent project at school – to pick any topic and choose how you want to present it,” says Rory. “The EPQ was fun because you get to choose something that you’re really passionate about."
Rory chose to explore a project that asked the challenging question, 'Are people born criminals and how does education, family and community enhance your likelihood of becoming a criminal?’
“I wanted to address this question because myself and a lot of other kids in this school fit the risk factors of becoming a criminal. A lot of kids in this school have ADHD, dyslexia, haven’t got all our GCSEs and we’ve been out of school. I spent a lot of my childhood in a really rough neighbourhood with a lot of crime.” says Rory.
“A new way of working”
“Our Sixth Form students have bespoke timetables and Rory decided that the EPQ was the path he’d like to follow,” says Andrew. “Rory felt that the EPQ was a completely new way of working. He had to use a lot of project management tools like Gantt charts, critical paths and timelines, which he was really good at. I’ve noticed that since doing the EPQ, he’s become so organised. The EPQ made Rory more disciplined with his time management. It’s very impressive.”
Rory initially decided to write a dissertation to share his findings for his project but found the format challenging. The flexibility offered to complete the EPQ allowed him to change his approach to an artefact, which was a better fit for him.
“When I changed it into a 10-minute speech, it turned out a lot better because I could make it dramatic and make people think a bit more, rather than just giving facts”, says Rory. “I’m shy and so I pretended my project was a TED talk and that worked. I think when you get to read something out loud it makes your audience feel it more. I think you can emphasise things and stress the points you want to stress and put more emotion into it”, Rory adds.
The EPQ's flexibility allowed Rory to change the format of his research so that it was a better fit for him.
Developing confidence and skills for the future
“ASDAN’s EPQ made me realise that you can actually study things you’re really interested in and it’s made me want to go to university to pursue the things I care about,” says Rory. “It’s definitely made me more excited about writing about social science.”
Rory’s hard work was rewarded with a B grade for his EPQ and has boosted his confidence.
“I feel more confident in pursuing an independent project since the EPQ,” says Rory. "I work in a more logical way now. When I have a project to do, rather than just trying to do everything at once, I break it down into steps.”
“Making your thoughts coherent and fit a brief is something I’d not done before and I think it’s probably a good skill to have later in life.”
“I might eventually want to go in to criminal law or human rights law. Through ASDAN’s EPQ, I’ve proved to myself that I can do those things just as well as other people my age. I liked doing ASDAN’s EPQ and think it’s improved my confidence.”
ASDAN is now working on new and updated resources to support EPQ members from September 2022, to include a scheme of learning for the taught element and more accessible project forms.
Find out more about the ASDAN EPQ