History of art A level saved after outcry, Nick Gibb confirms

1st December 2016 at 11:51
Exam board steps into the breach after AQA axed the subject in October

A levels in history of art and statistics have been saved after an exam board said it wanted to start offering them from next September, schools standards minister Nick Gibb confirmed today.

In October, AQA said it would stop running the history of art and statistics qualifications because of the small number of students taking them, difficulties finding examiners with enough experience and problems establishing grade boundaries. It was the only board to offer the subjects.

Its decision followed government reforms to A levels in England which have required new syllabuses in all subjects.

The decision sparked an angry response, with historian Simon Schama tweeting that “axing art history deals another blow to the creative capital of this country”. Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, tweeted that “Philistines must not prevail”.

'Many people have a passion for these subjects'

In a written statement to MPs today, Mr Gibb said: “The Pearson exam board has confirmed that it intends to develop new AS and A levels in statistics and a new A level in history of art for teaching from September 2017.”

He said the government’s intention “has always been that there should continue to be A levels available in these two subjects”.

Rod Bristow, president of Pearson in the UK, said: "We're pleased to be able to secure the future of A levels in history of art and statistics, subject to final accreditation by Ofqual.  

"The response from the public, from teachers and from young people shows many people have a real passion for these subjects. We're happy to help make sure they remain available.

"We believe that awarding organisations, government and schools should all work together in the interests of the students who want to have access to these important qualifications.”

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