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UK Exam Board Saves A-Level Art History Courses

Culture minister Matt Hancock said that he is “thrilled” to announce today that A-level art history courses will continue to be taught in high schools throughout the UK after Pearson agreed to develop an A-level exam, Christy Romer of Arts Professional reports.

Rod Bristow, the president of Pearson in the UK, said, “The response from the public, from teachers and from young people shows many people have a real passion for these subjects. We’re happy to help make sure they remain available.”

In October, the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), the last exam board in England offering A-level art history, decided to drop the subject, citing a lack of interest—only 839 students took the exam this summer. As a result, students would not be able to study art history at the university level.

Shortly after the AQA announced that art history was being cut, arts workers mobilized. A petition on 38 degrees, which states “to discontinue offering art history at AS and A level from 2018 . . . is detrimental to students, teachers, and the cultural future of this country,” secured more than 18,500 signatures. Among the organizations campaigning to save A-level art history were the Association of Art Historians, the Courtauld Institute of Art, the University of York, the National Gallery, Tate, and the Royal Academy of Arts.

Munira Mirza, the former deputy mayor for education and culture of London, said, “Hopefully the arts sector is now galvanized to work even more proactively with teachers to promote this valuable subject. Art history should be part of a general education for all, not just a niche subject for the few.”