Head of Projects: Ms Emily Newman een@forest.org.uk

An aspect of our education which makes Forest distinct is the fact that every Senior School pupil at Forest will take, as part of their studies, at least one Project Qualification. All pupils in Year 10 take the Higher Project Qualification (HPQ), a GCSE-standard qualification in which pupils research and produce a project outcome on any subject of their choosing. This could take the form of an essay, an artefact or a performance.

The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), completed in Year 12, is a standalone qualification designed to extend and develop pupils’ skills in independent research and project management preparing them for higher level study. At Forest, it is an essential academic element of our Sixth Form provision.

What are Projects?

Project Qualifications require pupils to carry out research on a topic they have chosen. They can choose almost any topic, so long as it can be researched. They then use this research to produce a written report, or, in the case of practical projects, an artefact or a production.

A pupil can take inspiration from something studied in class or something completely unrelated to their studies.

The Project Qualifications offer opportunities for pupils to:

  • Develop and improve their own learning and performance as critical, reflective and independent pupils.
  • Extend their planning, research, critical thinking, analysis, synthesis, evaluation and presentation skills.
  • Use their learning experiences to support their aspirations for higher education and/or career development.
  • Transfer skills developed as part of their extended project to other areas of study.
  • The EPQ gives A-level students excellent preparation for university-level study and may help boost their UCAS application.
  • The EPQ attracts UCAS points, is worth half an A-level (graded up to A*) and is widely valued by universities and employers. Some leading universities, such as the University of Southampton, make adjusted offers to pupils undertaking an EPQ. Furthermore, nearly one-third of all Russell Group universities accept them as part of their entry requirements.

What do pupils research?

For the EPQ and HPQ, pupils can study virtually anything that is of interest to them, be it age old questions or issues that are more contemporary. Here is just a small selection of projects that have been completed in recent years by Forest learners:

  • To what extent is society biased towards extroverts?
  • Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell, a modern interpretation
  • To what extent is Momentum a threat to the Labour Party?
  • To create a Tic Tac Toe Artificial Intelligence system using a reinforcement learning algorithm.
  • An original composition inspired by traditional Vietnamese music to tell the story of ‘The Legendary Origins of the Viet People’, a cultural Myth from Vietnam, using improvisation of the Dan Moi.
  • An evaluation of which isolated instructional material best teaches practical subjects remotely, investigating written, aural, and visual materials.
  • Is the practice of saviour siblings morally justifiable?
  • To what extent can it be argued that play with Lego has a positive impact on intelligence, and can I support this argument with an appropriate psychological investigation?
  • Does the study or participation of the arts aid medical students to obtain skills beneficial to their careers as practitioners?
  • To what extent do the benefits provided by the International Space Station justify the associated risks and costs?
  • Was Spinosaurus better adapted to hunting in water or on land?’
  • Can I compose a Romantic piano piece inspired by Chopin?
  • Do the protest methods used by Extinction Rebellion further or hinder its cause?
  • Does language limit our thought?
  • Can I create an effective classroom for students with ADHD?

All HPQ and EPQ students will also prepare and deliver a presentation about the project and process (including a Q&A session). The presentation provides candidates with an opportunity to tell the story of their project journey, from initial project choice right through to final reflections.

Academic Successes:

Of the 119 entrants for Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) in 2022, 52% were awarded the top grade (A*) and nearly 80% of all projects were awarded an A or A*. This is a magnificent achievement on behalf of our pupils and rightly reflects their hard work, independence and intellectual curiosity. It is also a testament to the work of our Projects Department.

It is important to recognise that behind each of these numbers lies a fully-fledged and robust research project or artefact. Completion of an EPQ constitutes some of the best preparation for university study a Sixth Former can undertake. The Russell Group of elite universities, for example, describes the EPQ as a ‘valued qualification’ and ‘one which requires evidence of planning, preparation and independent learning’, whilst the University of Cambridge ‘welcome the EPQ and encourage applicants to take one.’