By the numbers: the decline of specialist subjects

4th November 2016 at 00:00
The loss of archaeology A level could affect the house-building industry
There has been an outcry over the withdrawal of ‘specialist’ A levels such as archaeology – and there are a number of subjects with far fewer entries

A levels in “specialist” subjects such as archaeology, history of art and classical civilisation will be dropped next year, partly owing to challenges around marking. Only 369 students sat an A level in archaeology last summer, while 839 took history of art.

Critics have warned that infrastructure and house-building projects will suffer as a result of the subject’s removal because of the key role that archaeologists play in preparing sites. A petition to save the A level has gained more than 12,000 signatures, and has even garnered the support of former Time Team presenter Sir Tony Robinson.

Low-entry A levels

Although archaeology is going to be withdrawn as an A-level option, there are other subjects that attract far fewer students.

Last year, just 20 students sat a science in society A level with AQA and 44 took an A level in critical and contextual studies with Edexcel. Meanwhile, only two students took pure maths at A level with OCR, while six sat an exam in humanities.

In Scotland, the lowest number of entries for a subject at Higher was for Gaelic as a foreign language, with 84, while 92 students took Urdu.


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