Campaign saves history of art A-level - Museums Association

Campaign saves history of art A-level

Exam board steps in to offer subject after public outcry
Laura Rutkowski
The history of art A-level has been saved following a high-profile campaign that criticised the decision by examination board AQA to scrap the subject in 2018.

AQA was the last exam board in England to offer the history of art A-level and announced in October that the subject would no longer be available on the English college curriculum.

The Pearson exam board has stepped in and will develop new A-levels in the history of art, with teaching beginning in September 2017. The UK government’s Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation will be responsible for final accreditation.

The Association of Art Historians (AAH) welcomed the announcement: “The new specification will allow us to build on the successes of the previous A-level while developing new approaches to understanding art history and visual cultures and discovering new abilities, skills and modes of inquiry.”

The AAH led a campaign to reinstate the A-level, which included support from the Courtauld Institute of Art, the University of York, the National Gallery, Tate, and the Royal Academy of Arts. A petition created by Nerissa Taysom, an art historian, received over 18,000 signatures to save the subject.   

“The response from the public, from teachers, and from young people shows many people have a real passion for these subjects,” said Rod Bristow, the president of Pearson in the UK. “We're happy to help make sure they remain available.”

Petitions to continue offering A-levels in archaeology and classical civilisation – both also dropped by AQA – have attracted thousands of signatures, but their discontinuation will be upheld.

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