Ultimate Guide to the EPQ – The Supervisor and Coordinator

In the sixth piece in this eight-part series on the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), we will be looking at two other critical roles that take part in the process. While you, of course, do the vast majority of the work, the student, the purposes of the EPQ Supervisor and the EPQ Centre Coordinator also are critical, especially the former. 

As a student, you will have the most contact with your EPQ Supervisor, but the Coordinator works behind the scenes in ways you don’t always see, so we’ll be looking at what roles both play. 

What does the Supervisor do?

In short, your EPQ Supervisor is a teacher at your school who acts as a guide and source of support throughout the EPQ process. Right from the beginning of your project as you’re formulating and choosing your topic, your Supervisor is right there advising you, and they stick by you right through to the final presentation.

Through regular meetings and check-ups, the Supervisor keeps an eye on your progress, filling in several sections of your production log as you go. They’re not there to tell you what to do, or to direct your action, but rather to lend an ear, hear out your thoughts and help by offering an additional perspective.

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How do you choose a Supervisor?

While the Centre Coordinator is one appointed teacher for the whole school, the Supervisors are chosen by students according to their preference and needs. When it comes to selecting a Supervisor, some students are quick to select a teacher within the field they have chosen; a chemistry teacher for a chemistry-related project, a psychology teacher for a psychology-related topic, and so on. It makes sense to many.

While this may seem intuitive and obvious, there are actually great benefits to choosing a teacher on the outside of your chosen topic area. Perhaps the greatest of these is that if you want a teacher without the specialist knowledge of your chosen field, the bond between you is strengthened as the two of you, in the words of AQA, “embark on the learning journey together.”

Ultimately, you should choose your Supervisor based on who you think you will work well with, and which teacher has the time and will to devote regular meeting time to you. If you choose a teacher, for example, who has many other responsibilities (a Deputy Head, or Head of Year, for example), you may find it harder to find time to meet.

What responsibilities does your Supervisor have?

AQA divides the responsibilities of an EPQ Supervisor into four parts – they are:

  • Meeting with students to hear and improve on first ideas, help with planning, and offer advice and guidance to help students progress.
  • Completing the Production Log to provide evidence that the project process is authentic and being completed according to the required rules and standards.
  • Attending the final presentation, where they will keep a log of the audience, how the presentation goes, and what form your presentation took.
  • Marking of students’ work, ensuring they use the same standards as other colleagues’ EPQ marking and adhere to any additional rules set by the Centre Coordinator.

How often should you meet with your Supervisor?

The answer to this question depends a lot on your individual needs. Some students are very pro-active, and may only need to meet with their Supervisor once every other week just to check-in and share their progress to get some feedback. Some may need more significant support, in which case you should set a regular meeting schedule and stick to it, at least once a week, perhaps more in certain weeks where deadlines are closing in.

EPQ Supervisors generally agree that however much or little you meet with your Supervisor; it should still be regular. The Supervisor provides you with invaluable insight and can flag up potential problems that you may not see. You are working on your project day-in-day-out, and it’s easy to “fail to see the wood for the trees.” Your Supervisor often is most able to see the bigger picture, and you cannot underestimate the value of that.

What does the Centre Coordinator do?

The Coordinator is essentially your school’s representative in all things EPQ, taking responsibility for the delivery of all project submissions to the exam board. While you as a student may not deal with the Coordinator on a day-to-day basis, your Supervisor will, and it is the Coordinator who has the last say on all things EPQ.

While you communicate with your Supervisor and get their advisory green lights on things, it is the Coordinator who has final sign-off rights on your project proposal. They also oversee the Supervisors and ensure that they are doing their work to the correct standards, especially when it comes to marking your project after it’s done.

Recognising the roles

At the end of the day, it’s essential for you to recognize that as you attend to your EPQ, your school’s teachers are diligently supporting you in the background. Make sure you use that support. Meet with your Supervisor regularly, and heed their advice. 

Don’t miss part seven of our series, which will be a special edition for parents in which we explore the numerous advantages of the EPQ for students.