For the Guardian, Maev Kennedy reports that England will stop offering A-level (or advanced placement) exams in art history, effective 2018. This comes as a continued assault of the arts after major Arts Council funding cuts in recent years. It remains to be seen what the UK arts landscape will look like years into new conservative Prime Minister Theresa May's reign. Read Kennedy in partial below, in full via the Guardian.
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 exam board, AQA, which had described history of art as a subject leading students to “an appreciation of some significant themes, from classical Greece to the end of the 20th century” confirmed that students taking AS exams in the subject next year and A-levels in 2018 will be the last of their kind.
The Association of Art Historians called the decision a significant loss of access to a range of cultures, artefacts and ideas for young people.
It added: “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.”