CIfA initial response to AQA withdrawal of A-level Archaeology

On 12 October, the AQA exam board announced that it would be dropping the A-level Archaeology course as of next year. This decision, which comes out of the blue, is extremely damaging for the sector, particularly as there is a noted shortage of archaeologists to meet demand created by the growth in national infrastructure projects and the sector has been pouring resources into diversifying routes into the profession.

The reasons given for the decision include ‘the specialist nature of the topics, the range of options, difficulties in recruiting experienced examiners, and limited entries’. This statement does not reference that a revision of the Specification for the course which would bring it into line with Ofqual’s standards, following a Government consultation in the summer, has been recently completed and was due to be submitted for assessment in the very near future.

CIfA Chief Executive Pete Hinton said;

“It is a great disappointment that AQA have unilaterally decided to stop offering the A-level programme in Archaeology mere months after a range of improvements had been designed following a Government consultation. The A-level in archaeology is an important route into the archaeological profession and therefore represents a set-back for the sector, which has made strides towards improving diversity and skills in the workforce.

The additional fact that the AQA A-levels in Anthropology, Classical Civilisation and History of Art are also to be discontinued at this time means that this should be seen as a serious affront to those who believe that the study of past cultures can bring both positive benefits in terms of cultural understanding, as well as practical transferable skills for students – whether they wish to pursue archaeology as a career or not.

We are calling on Government and AQA to look at ways to come to a revised conclusion on the future of the Archaeology A-level which would prevent irrevocable harm to the discipline and to students’ options for studying this great subject. We would welcome talks on how to encourage more centres and students to take up the degree and ensure a sufficient supply of qualified examiners.”

A petition has been launched to help highlight concern about the issue to AQA and can be accessed here.