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The art history A-level has been saved

The decision to no longer offer qualifications for new courses starting September 2017 has been overturned

Art fans and future historians rejoice! It’s just been announced that the art history A-level has been saved in the UK.

Earlier this year, former education secretary Michael Gove made the infuriating claim that art history as an A-level subject was too “soft”. His decision? To cull it from the modern curriculum. A step that was taken – despite him no longer being in government – when the AQA announced in October this year that it would no longer offer qualifications for new courses starting September 2017. 

However, with a campaign led by the Association of Art Historians and the support of art institutions such as The Tate, The Courtauld Insitute of Art, the University of York, London’s RA and the University of York, one of the UK’s major examination boards, Pearson, has today announced that they will develop a new A-level in the history of art for teaching from September 2017.

“Art history is the study of power, politics, identity and humanity” – Jeremy Deller

Following the initial announcement in October, many leading figures stepped forward to argue that art history not only helped to widen a cultural knowledge of the world around us but also extended to our understanding of important historical, social and political issues.

World-renowned British artists such Anish Kapoor and Jeremy Deller publicly expressed concerns over the decision. Kapoor told The Guardian, “The humanities are under assault. How can people possibly say this subject is less important than any other? How do they know? So much flows from a knowledge of art history, from such an education. It gives you a sense of citizenship, a sense of how we relate to the world. It can answer the great questions of history and consciousness. And we are letting it go. Whatever is seen as economically unproductive is simply dismissed.”

With the news that the art history A-level has been saved, Kapoor expressed his sense of relief and Deller responded that it was “(a) good day for art and culture. Art history is the study of power, politics, identity and humanity, it makes perfect sense to keep the exam.”