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Citizenship A-level is needed more than ever, campaigners claim

Politicians and academics are fighting a campaign to save the citizenship A-level after the only exam board offering the qualification revealed that it planned to drop it from 2017.

AQA attributed its decision to falling student numbers and said that the current course no longer met the needs of most schools.

But the campaigners say the need for good citizenship education has never been greater. Organisations supporting the campaign, including the Citizenship Foundation, the Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT) and Democratic Life, have written to AQA urging the board to reconsider.

The letter has signatories including former education secretary David Blunkett (pictured), who is honorary president of ACT.

“As a subject that combines academic knowledge and understanding with practical action, citizenship studies makes an excellent contribution to the development of generic employability skills and preparation for higher education," it says.

The campaigners argue that the qualification is more important than ever at a time when many young people feel disaffected with politics, there are signs that the voting age could be lowered to 16 and schools are required to actively promote British values to their students.

They have also launched an online petition calling for AQA to "reverse their baffling decision to drop this important A-level qualification".

Michael Grimes, of the Citizenship Foundation, said: "There's been an upswell of people taking the full course at GCSE and then they're going to be without an A-level to progress on to."

He said the campaign was urging other exam boards to consider introducing an A-level in citizenship, as well as lobbying AQA to change its mind.

An AQA spokeswoman said: “We understand why some people are disappointed, but this isn't about the importance of citizenship as a subject - it's about how we, as an education charity, can bring the most benefit to young people.

“The number of students taking AS- or A-level citizenship has almost halved since 2011, so it's clearly no longer meeting the needs of most schools and colleges. We are also aware that Ofqual has concerns about citizenship continuing at this level, due to similarities with the government and politics course – which we do intend to keep offering.”

The board added that it does offer a GCSE in citizenship studies and intends to develop a new GCSE qualification in the subject for first teaching in 2017.

A spokesman for Ofqual said: "Ofqual will provide details in March on the subjects that are planned for reform in 2017. At this time we will also publish the results of our consultation into our principles for determining subject availability. Exam boards are free to choose the subjects they will continue to offer in advance of that announcement.”


Related stories:

Abolishing GCSE coursework is 'dumbing down' citizenship, teachers claim - 25 September, 2014

Citizenship struggles - 30 October, 2009

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