Godalming College students studying for the AS level history of art exam, Surrey, 2014. Photo: Graham Turner

UK Cuts Art History from High School Curriculums

According to Maev Kennedy of The Guardian, in 2018 AS- and A-level art history courses will be dropped from high school curriculums across the UK. Artists, historians, and academics have spoken out against the decision, which is part of a wider plan of educational reforms spearheaded by former education secretary Michael Gove.

For high school students in the UK, General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (also known as A-level) courses are usually required for admission into universities. A spokeswomen for the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) said, “Our decision has nothing to do with the importance of the history of art, and it won’t stop students going on to do a degree in it as we’re not aware of any universities that require an A-level in the subject.” The AQA cited the low number of students taking the exam, the high cost of offering the test, and a lack of teachers for the subject among the reasons why it will be cut. Eight hundred and thirty nine students took the A-level exam this summer.

A petition that was launched on 38 Degrees on October 13 has more than seven thousand signatures calling for a reversal of the decision to eliminate the subject. It states: “By cutting access to the study of art history before university, fewer prospective students will think about enrolling for such a minority subject. Over time this will lead to a dearth of expertise and interest in the visual arts and heritage, vital for continuing to protect the UK’s rich cultural history.”

Caroline Osborne, art history teacher and founding trustee of the Art History in Schools campaign group, called the decision to drop the A-level “crazy, completely crazy.”

Anthropology and creative writing are among the other subjects that will be culled in order to make way for more “more challenging” subjects.