AQA, formerly the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, is an awarding body in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It compiles specifications and holds examinations in various subjects at GCSE, AS and A Level and offers vocational qualifications. AQA is a registered charity and independent of the government. However, its qualifications and exam syllabi are regulated by the Government of the United Kingdom, which is the regulator for the public examinations system in England and Wales.

AQA logo.svg
Formation7 November 1997 (alliance)
1 April 2000 (merger)
Merger ofNEAB and AEB/SEG
TypeExamination board
HeadquartersDevas Street
M15 6EX[1]
Region served
Collin Hughes Edit this at Wikidata

AQA is one of five awarding bodies which are recognised by schools across the country. AQA is also recognised by the regulators of the public exams systems for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to offer GCSE, AS and A Levels in the United Kingdom. AQA also offers the AQA Baccalaureate, a qualification also intended for students in Year 12 and 13 and which includes the study of three A-Levels, an extended project and extra-curricular enrichment activities.[2] AQA is the largest examination board for GCSEs and GCE A Levels in England.[3]

AQA administration office, Guildford

The organisation has several regional offices, the largest being in London, Guildford and Manchester.[4]

Due to the growing number of students taking GCSE and A Level exams, AQA has introduced computerized and digital marking in addition to traditional marking of examinations in order to increase efficiency and accuracy of the examination correction.[5]


AQA was originally formed on 7 November 1997 as an alliance of NEAB and AEB/SEG exam boards and City & Guilds vocational awarding body.[6][7] NEAB and AEB/SEG formally merged on 1 April 2000.[6][8] City & Guilds chose to remain independent of the new organisation, but transferred its GNVQ provision to AQA.[6]

AQA holds the candidate records and awards for the following historic exam boards:

  • Associated Examining Board (AEB)
  • Associated Lancashire Schools Examinations Board (ALSEB)
  • Joint Matriculation Board (JMB)
  • Northern Examining Association (NEA)
  • Northern Examinations and Assessment Board (NEAB)
  • North Regional Examinations Board (NREB)
  • North West Regional Examinations Board (NWREB)
  • North West Secondary Schools Examinations Board (NWSSEB)
  • Southern Examining Group (SEG)
  • South Eastern Regional Examinations (SEREB)
    • University of Bristol School Examinations Council (UBSEC)
  • South West Regional Examinations Board (SWREB)
  • Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Examinations Board (YHREB)
    • Yorkshire Regional Examinations Board (YREB)
    • The West Yorkshire and Lindsey Regional Examinations Board (TWYLREB)

Examination reformEdit

The Conservative Party under Prime Minister David Cameron initiated reforms for A Levels to change from a modular structure to a linear one.[9] British examination boards (Edexcel, AQA, OCR and WJEC) regulated and accredited by the Government of the United Kingdom responded to the government's reform announcements by modifying syllabi of several A Level subjects.[10] However, the Labour Party and in particular the Member of Parliament Tristram Hunt announced that it would seek to halt and reverse the reforms and maintain the modular A-Level system.[11] Labour's policy, and the modular AS- and A-Level system, are supported and promoted by the University of Cambridge and by the University of Oxford.[12][13]

The organisation announced that it will begin offering courses for which all assessment is carried out through examinations at the end of the course. This is commonly referred to as a linear course. Beforehand, they offered modular courses in England with several exams.[14]

Chief executivesEdit

The Chief Executive of AQA runs the organisation on a day-to-day basis, while being accountable to the AQA Council. The role was known as the Director General from its introduction in April 1998 until July 2010.[15]

  • Mike Cresswell CBE, 1 October 2003–31 March 2010[18][19]
  • Andrew Hall, 4 June 2010–31 August 2017[20][21]
  • Toby Salt, 1 September 2017–8 September 2019[20][22]
  • Mark Bedlow, 9 September 2019–31 August 2020 (interim chief executive)[22][23]
  • Colin Hughes, 1 September 2020–[23]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "AQA Education". Companies House. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  2. ^ "AQA – Overview of the AQA Baccalaureate". Archived from the original on 7 June 2009. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
  3. ^ Assessing candidates on future potential | Resource library | Talent Q
  4. ^ AQA | Contact us | Contact us | Our offices
  5. ^ How do examiners decide grades? | Schools Week
  6. ^ a b c Tattersall, Kathleen (2003). "Ringing the Changes: Educational and Assessment Policies, 1900 to the Present". Setting the Standard: A Century of Public Examining by AQA and Its Parent Boards. Manchester: AQA. p. 22. ISBN 0954470508.
  7. ^ "Assessment and Qualifications Alliance". Oxford Reference. OUP. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  8. ^ AQA. "Our Heritage". AQA. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  9. ^ [ARCHIVED CONTENT] Changes to A levels - The Department for Education
  10. ^ Edexcel A levels | Pearson qualifications
  11. ^ Labour pledges to halt A-Level reforms
  12. ^ Cambridge urges schools to enter students for AS-levels - BBC News
  13. ^ Oxford raises concerns over A-level exam reform - BBC News
  14. ^ "BBC News - AQA exam board to bring in exam-only GCSEs in England". 27 September 2010. Retrieved 8 December 2011.
  15. ^ AQA (16 July 2010). "Director General and Deputy Director General Change of Title". AQA. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  16. ^ AQA (28 January 2013). "Kathleen Tattersall". AQA. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  17. ^ Tattersall, Kathleen (30 September 2003). "A National Obsession". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  18. ^ Children, Schools and Families Committee (2008). Testing and Assessment: Oral and Written Evidence v. 2: Third Report of Session 2007-08. London: TSO. p. 109. ISBN 9780215515117. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  19. ^ Garner, Richard (4 March 2010). "Head of Curriculum Quango Quits with Warning". The Independent. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  20. ^ a b AQA (4 June 2010). "New Director General - Andrew Hall - Starts at AQA". AQA. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  21. ^ Dickens, John (17 January 2017). "Ormiston chief Toby Salt takes top role at exam board AQA". Schools Week. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  22. ^ a b Whittaker, Freddie (9 September 2019). "AQA chief executive Toby Salt steps down". Schools Week. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  23. ^ a b AQA (19 February 2020). "Colin Hughes to Become AQA's Chief Executive". AQA. Retrieved 4 May 2020.

External linksEdit