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星期四 2016年12月29號

【SCMP Education Post:Study in the UK】Russell Group universities keeping an eye on EPQ candidates

Extended Project Qualifications (EPQs) are becoming increasingly accepted and sought after in a candidate by Russell Group universities. Hong Kong students who may be pondering over whether to do an EPQ should not solely be preoccupied with attaining extra UCAS points but rather focus on the benefits of exploring their deepest passions and improving key skills before they move on to university ...

First of all, I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr Bob Mitchell, A Level and GCSE Programme Manager at Bellerbys College, Oxford, for sitting with me recently and talking about various issues including Sixth Form education and the EPQ. I have also been able to browse completed Hong Kong and other Asian students’ EPQ projects and I am amazed at the quality of research and critical thinking skills these children possess.

The EPQ first came into fruition in 2008 and now contributes to programmes of study either as a stand-alone qualification (typically as an extension to A Levels) or as part of other programmes such as the AQA Baccalaureate. In simple terms, students are required to choose an area of interest, draft a title and aims of the project and then to research and execute a 5000-word written project. Students are also required to deliver a presentation to a non-specialist audience and keep a Production Log which is essentially a diary documenting each student’s reflections on the project as well as research and planning.

It is clear to see that the nature of the qualification and the power of Sixth Form departments to teach or add a new dimension to the aforementioned key skills combine to pave the way for quicker adaptation and greater success for students at university. Aside from gaining knowledge and improving research and referencing skills, I believe that developing the powers of analysis and expression is key and is exactly what Hong Kong students need. Academic development should be about critically analysing and questioning the great number of interpretations of knowledge and getting away from the idea that there is one standard textbook of “truth” for certain subjects or topics.Of course, the EPQ requires the teaching of key skills and it is standard that 30 guided learning hours will be spent on this taught element. Students work independently and obtain individual supervision and guidance for the rest of the time. Teaching of the skills may vary depending on the nature of each individual research project, but research skills, ethical guidelines, research methodology, ICT skills, referencing and presentations skills would commonly be taught.

With reference to one EPQ project belonging to a student from our neck of the woods who studied at Bellerbys College, Oxford, it is inspiring to see how our children are able to tackle and critically analyse complex topics which they clearly have a passion for. The student in question broadly researched pathogens and disease control. Not my specialist area I must admit, yet still a fascinating read. This student’s level of critical thinking, questioning and conviction in his statements is admirable and Bellerbys College must be credited for that.

Bellerbys, which has campuses in Cambridge, Oxford, London and Brighton, offers a range of A level enrichment programmes which allow students to embed the EPQ within a certain pathway. For instance, Bellerbys Cambridge has a Mechanical Engineering Pathway which enables student to follow the EPQ.

The evidence suggests that the EPQ is valued by Russell Group universities, though not all include the EPQ as part of any offer they make to a student. One institution which is supportive of the EPQ is The University of Bristol which may accept AAB at A-level plus Extended Project or AAA. Therefore, two separate offers may be made at Bristol. Durham University takes a slightly different stance as the EPQ does not form part of the entry requirements for undergraduate degree programmes, but admits that a high predicted or actual grade “will be considered a positive attribute when selecting amongst applicants with similar levels of overall achievement”.

Overall, my meeting with Mr Bob Mitchell and personal analysis of Hong Kong and southeast Asian students’ work has convinced me that the EPQ is worth pursuing, not only for the qualification but because of the self-discipline, research skills and time management skills students gain which will be vital to them at university.

Samuel Chan is the Managing Director of Britannia StudyLInk.

文章作者Samuel Chan是Britannia StudyLink英識教育創辦人。



1 寄宿百科 2 英國大學
3 談英國 4 赴英須知
5 赴英遊學 6 選校攻略
7 留英所得 8 親子關係
9 英名校大比拼 10 留英專家分享

陳思銘(Samuel Chan) 並非如一般外界人所認為的「富二代留學生」,家人數代都在流浮山經營海鮮買賣,父母學歷程度雖然不高,但努力工作賺錢把Samuel從小(9歲)就供養到英國寄宿學校格雷舍姆學院 (Gresham College)讀書,才能讓他早早就體會到英式教育優越全世界的原因。
Samuel Chan在留英之前亦都曾苦於在香港的教育體系中掙扎求存,但是香港朝令夕改的教育制度卻令他的成續止步不前,甚至感到老師也對自己失去興趣。直到接受英式教育後,他深深感受到兩地學制的差異:在英國,永遠是先發掘學生的興趣,再透過「興趣」作為推動其學習的原動力,釋放潛能。在英國,他獲得了使自己能夠表達自己並嘗試新事物的信心,最終以優秀的成續升讀英國頂尖的學府。
Samuel Chan留英長達15年,在諾定咸大學(University of Nottingham)獲得經濟學學士後,在華威大學(The University of Warwick)攻讀完政治經濟系碩士後回流香港。回流香港的Samuel鑑有感於香港教育制度無法充分釋放學生潛力,於是回流英國的他創辦了英識教育,以幫助更多有志留學英國的同學提供各類支援及顧問服務。
白手興手固然辛苦,但奮鬥數年英識教育終獲香港品牌發展局頒發「香港服務名牌」的升學教育中心,亦是同業首間獲此認證的品牌。後來,Samuel於2017年奪得「英國傑出校友獎」,該獎是英國文化協會及多家英國高等院校的共同構思,並由英國文化協舉辦,評選活動獲不少名人及王室人員支持及參與。可見,讓身為香港人的「陳思銘」的名字深深烙印在英國學術界傑出人仕的陳列櫃中。雖然事業受到肯定,但Samuel並不安於現狀,後來在2020年更創立Britannia Gateway 的學術培訓平台,提供更多元化的課程以幫助客戶適應英國課程。

論名氣,Oundle 未追得上 Eton、Wycombe Abbey 等頂級名校,但學校的學術成績在英國依然名列前茅。作為傳統名校,Oundle 非常重視全人發展,為學生提供多元課餘活動選擇。學校奉行英國碩果僅存的 House Dining System,或是令香港家長趨之若鶩的一大原因。
Bromsgrove 的師生比例是一比八,比一般的寄宿學校低。此外,綜合我曾到訪的學校,此校硬件設施之完善,可入選全英設備最佳的三大校園。校方不惜工本為學生提供舒適環境,甚至收購附近的酒店改建成宿舍,令宿生有名符其實的「五星級享受」。此校極具前瞻性,是國際化的英國宿校。
Brighton College 是英國首屈一指的私校,是香港家長最愛的寄宿學校之一。 看一間學校,除了教育宗旨、多元化活動、成績之外,更要看校長的魄力。十年前,校長 Mr. Richard Cairns 成為 Brighton College 校長後,把學校由全英國接近 150 名推至首 20 名。除了在教育方針上大力推動改革之外,也為了保持學生的求知慾而非常努力,是難得的好校長。
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