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Art History A-level to end

On Wednesday 12 October 2016, AQA the last exam board in England to offer art history A-level announced it would be dropping the subject from 2018.

The Association of Art Historians (AHH) described the decision as a ‘significant loss’ for young people. Their press release explains:

‘The decision to discontinue History of Art at Key Stage 5 will mark a significant loss to young people’s access to - and understanding of -a range of different cultures, artefacts and ideas. Signposting educational opportunities, such as an A level in art history to students who may never have considered this an opportunity.’

AQA are reported to to say that the reasons behind dropping the subject were complex: ‘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.”

However the AHH believe the decision will impact on the subject at higher education level: ‘The symbolic space that the subject occupies within the school system is fundamental in developing awareness of art history at under- graduate level and beyond. Almost a third of universities in the UK offer the opportunity to study art history; the potential impacts to the higher education sector and the creative and cultural industries they feed into should not be underestimated.’

Along with the AHH, the Society will campaign to reintroduce the subject at A-level and to promote art history in all schools.

The Guardian reported: ‘The last art history A-level axed after Michael Gove cull of ''soft'' subjects’

On Twitter Simon Schama @simon_schama said: ‘Axing art history deals another blow to the creative capital of this country: this government determined to impoverish the next generation’

Whilst Michael Gove @michaelgove tweeted: ‘Why were so few state schools offering the subject? Why aren''t more heads anxious to promote it? Who on earth thinks it''s ''soft'' - not me’.