It was announced earlier this week that AQA would be making dramatic cuts to its selection of A-level courses, with the majority of those axed from the selection of two-year courses being Arts and Humanities based subjects. Amongst the courses axed were Creative Writing – a course that is becoming increasingly popular for university study and is of obvious importance at UEA – Archaeology, Anthropology, and Engineering and Electronics.
The eradication of History of Art was piqued particular media interest. It was suggested that this will encourage elitism within the art and museum industry, as the knowledge is removed from mainstream education and becomes reserved for those with a specialist interest: it would be fair to assume, those of the upper and middle classes.
Needless to say, the announcement was met with outrage from almost everyone involved in Arts and Humanities, all of whom understand the importance of exposing young people to the arts and the difficulties that many students face in accessing a variety of mediums.
Many have expressed a concern that this will negatively affect the number of students actively seeking careers in the arts, which will then affect the amount and quality of creative work being produced.
Some have suggested that the cuts are purely practical, rather than ideological. In some cases, the exam board have been offering two very similar courses, such as ICT and Computing, and have elected to end one, or even both, and replace it with an alternative – in this case Computer Science. In others, the problem has been a lack of interest, and so options such as Archaeology have been cut due to a lack of funding, with AQA having a problem in securing expert teaching and examining staff for other less popular choices which may be deemed too ‘specialised’ to study at a level lower than university.
But, Michael Gove’s suggestion earlier this year that funding for arts based courses should be cut to encourage a focus on subjects which are considered “more challenging, more ambitious and more rigorous”, definitely implies that we are likely to see similar cuts in the future, particularly to arts-based courses.
All hope is not lost, however. On a more positive note, the examination board AQA have stated that they would not be opposed to offering many of these choices again in the future, should funding allow it. We really need to just cross our fingers and hope some politicians begin to understand the importance of Arts and Humanities.
The views and opinions outlined in this piece belong entirely to the author, and are not reflective of the views of the wider Editorial team, nor Concrete as a whole.