A Passion for the EPQ

A Passion for the EPQ

The claim that the programme of Project Qualifications is now firmly embedded across Farnborough Hill was confirmed this year, not only in the recognition provided by the team of ISI Inspectors that visited in March, but in the fact that the first cohort of girls to have undertaken a Foundation Project Qualification (FPQ) when in Year 9, successfully completed their Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) at the start of their Upper Sixth. The benefits of this experience were evident, as impressive results for all 20 of the EPQ candidates included 12 A*s and a further 4 A grades. A wide range of interests led to some remarkable varied but insightful titles, including projects which considered the most significant pressures on GPs, the potential for nuclear fusion to be the future of energy, and the role of women in Ancient Rome.

The level of engagement with the FPQ remains extremely strong, with over two-thirds of Year 9 opting to complete the qualification in 2021-22. Indeed, such was the passion and commitment of some girls that the were able to be entered for the Higher Project Qualification (HPQ) and, as a result to provide a 2,000 word essay, in addition to the other components of the course. Results were outstanding, with 47% of the cohort securing an A* and 86% securing either A* or A, and the topics wide ranging. The link between academic success and involvement in high-level sport, music and/or dance was a common theme, as was the impact of such involvement on aspects of mental health. Others notable topics considered the benefits of bi-lingual primary schools, the environmental impact of space exploration and the ethical nature of fast fashion.

Project Qualifications, across the three levels, require the production of a Written Report, the completion of a Research Journal – via the on-line ProjectQ platform – and the delivery of a formal spoken presentation. Based on a topic of their own choice, candidates are required not only to identify and locate relevant source material but to carefully analyse, evaluate and synthesis this information to produce a response to their question based on their careful consideration of the evidence available to them. Many of these skills are introduced in the Taught Sessions – delivered in Form Time for Year 9 and as part of the timetable in the Lower Sixth – and then cultivated in one-to-one meetings with a personal Supervisor, where candidates are also encouraged to reflect on the strengths and weakness of their work and to make decisions as to the direction of their research journey. Given the range of skills required, the results at both Year 9 and 13 are remarkable and are surely a key part in the academic success enjoyed by Farnborough Hill girls more generally.

It is always the passion with which the girls engage with their topic that is the most striking, however, and it wonderful not only to see Sixth Form students picking up their Year 9 topics for further development at EPQ level but to hear of undergraduate dissertations being written on issues first considered as a project.  

Renewed congratulations of course go to all the girls who take on the challenge of a project and complete it with such tenacity, focus and flair. Thanks must also go to all those staff, most notably the team of dedicated Supervisors, who support the Project Qualification with such dedication and skills, allowing the girls the opportunity this additional strand to their learning. Indeed, the staff more generally have been contributing their own project ideas, some of which are listed below, demonstrating that the research bug is alive and well at Farnborough Hill.  

Dr Ian Taylor, Project Co-Ordinator


Year 9 Project Titles

‘Would it be beneficial for primary schools in the UK to be bilingual?’ (Radhika Shah, 9A)

‘Does high-performance swimming have a positive impact on the well-being of teenage athletes’ (Sophie McGuire, 9A)

‘What is more detrimental to the Low Income Countries, the social or environmental impact of fast fashion?’  (Nathalie, 9AL)

‘Is the progress made in space exploration worth it from an environmental point of view?’ (Rosa, 9AL)


EPQ Titles 2021-22

‘Assess the significance of recent developments into the link between dysbiosis of the gut and mental health’ (Imogen, 2022)  

‘To what extent is it possible to demonstrate a link between air pollution and a high levels of incidence of COPD and asthma in the urban environment in the UK?’ (Kari, 2022)

‘To what extent is Athenian Democracy the basis for modern British democracy?’ (Annabel, 2022)


Staff proposals

‘‘To be or not to be’: Is that a question?’ (Mrs de Mattos)

‘Postboxes: still relevant in a digital age?’ (Miss White)

‘Can fungi save the world? How mycelium can help with the environment’s plastic problem’ (Mrs Drewe)

‘The science of singing; To what extent is there evidence of a neurological link between skills in STEM and musicality?’ (Mrs Burrows)