The Guardian is reporting that the last exam board in England offering art history A-level will drop the subject from 2018, marking the latest in a cull of perceived “soft” subjects following the curriculum changes begun by the former education secretary Michael Gove.
The Association of Art Historians called the decision a significant loss of access to a range of cultures, artefacts and ideas for young people. “Being able to signpost educational opportunities such as an A-level in art history to students who may never have considered this an opportunity, forms a significant part of our campaign work with partners across west Yorkshire, Bristol, Brighton and Sussex. The loss of that A-level means that for many prospective students of the subject that door will close and future opportunities [will be] lost.”
A spokeswoman from AQA said the decision to drop the subject had been difficult. “Our number one priority is making sure every student gets the result they deserve – and the complex and specialist nature of the exams in this subject creates too many risks on that front. That’s why we’ve taken the difficult decision not to continue our work creating a new AS and A-level.”
“Our decision has nothing to do with the importance of the history of art, and it won’t stop students going on to do a degree in it as we’re not aware of any universities that require an A-level in the subject.”
Only 839 students sat the A-level exam this summer, and history of art is only offered in a handful of state schools, but she insisted the low numbers [and therefore high cost to AQA of setting the exam] were not the main reason for dropping it. “But it’s true to say that the small number of students combined with the way the subject has to be assessed [ie the large number of specialist options] is what creates the ‘risks’ we refer to in our response.”
Do you agree with the removal of the art history A-level or is it an important subject that should be continued on? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie
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