After widespread condemnation from both the art and academic worlds – and from Minerva Tutors – about the axing of History of Art A-level, the government has done a u-turn to save the subject, The Times reported last week. Ministers ordered exam boards to come up with a solution, and Pearson – which owns the exam board Edexcel – is aiming to develop a new specification, although it will require approval. This is also true for the recently axed Statistics A-level, however the future of Archaeology is less clear. Classical civilisation was also axed by AQA, but OCR are already developing a new course.
Ministers were reportedly furious at AQA’s decision, as they had intended to re-design all four subject specifications as part of the wider restructuring of GCSEs and A-levels, before abandoning them in recent weeks. The government intervention comes after a similar row last year, when OCR ditched lesser taken languages (including Bengali, Gujarati, Turkish and Polish), and former education secretary Nicky Morgan demanded other boards step in with a plan to ensure their survival.
Rod Bristow, president of Pearson in the UK, said: “We are exploring with the government whether we are able to pick up some or all of these subjects. It is not yet certain we will be able to do so but we are happy to explore this.
“We understand the importance of offering these subjects to maintain the subject choices available but we must ensure they are technically viable.”
Under reforms launched when Michael Gove was education secretary, subjects including engineering, critical thinking, general studies, health and social care and home economics were abolished, among others. However, it was always intended that art history, archaeology, statistics and classical civilisation were to be continued, and after a frustrating week or so for the arts, it now looks like they may well be.
By David Bard
David is a Minerva Pro Tutor who specialises in humanities subjects at A Level and is a trained expert in the 7 + and 11 + exams. Outside of tutoring, David writes blogs about creative writing and everything that’s trending in education.