Save A-level archaeology
Here at YAC and the Council for British Archaeology we are joining the fight to save the A-level in archaeology. Nicky Milsted from YAC HQ describes what has happened so far, and how you can help the campaign...
What is an A-level?
A-levels are often taken by young people after their GCSEs, usually when they are aged between 16 and 18. The results that people get for their A-levels can be used to get a place at a university to do further study, or to help them to get jobs. Lots of adults study for A-levels too. You can do A-levels in loads of different subjects, including English literature, maths, music, German, theatre studies, art and design, French, physics, geography, history, chemistry, physical education and media studies.
In October 2016, the AQA (which runs the A-level in archaeology by describing what needs to be learnt and setting the exam questions) decided to stop the qualification. Their decision means that after 2018, no one will be able to study for an A-level in archaeology.
Why is archaeology A-level important?
We believe that archaeology A-level is very important because it sparks people's interest in our shared past, and encourages them to get involved in valuing, protecting and exploring their heritage.
Archaeology is a brilliant way of engaging different types of learners. People who learn best by doing practical research and projects can do very well at archaeology, and so can people who learn best by reading and discussing their ideas. People who love science will enjoy archaeology because they can use their skills to examine evidence from the past to uncover information about past lives and places.
Archaeology teaches highly transferable skills. These are skills that people can use in lots of different jobs and in their daily lives. By studying archaeology people learn team work, problem solving, and project planning. They learn to explain about the past using reports and presentations, and can develop skills in collecting, examining, understanding and describing lots of different types of information.
I loved doing A-level archaeology!
James Dilley is studying for a PhD in archaeology at the University of Southampton. He is an ex-YAC member, and was the 2007 Young Archaeologist of the Year. James took the archaeology A-level several years ago. He explained to YAC why he believes that the qualification is so important, and why he believes that it should be protected:
"The archaeology A-level allowed me to pursue my rapidly growing passion for archaeology at a higher level. My interest in British prehistory was channelled by the teaching offered, and I now run a successful outreach company for museums, schools, universities and media that focuses on prehistory. During my archaeology undergraduate degree, the first (and even following years) were far easier due to the foundations laid while doing the A-level several years earlier. I believe that the archaeology A-level provides an irreplaceable step in the journey towards a career in archaeology, and it is a step that has certainly played a huge part in my success and enjoyment so far."
What are YAC and the CBA doing?
There is an online petition that you can ask your parents, carers and teachers to sign and share. More than 12,000 people have already signed the petition (by midday on 31st October).
The Director of the Council for British Archaeology, Dr Mike Heyworth, has been talking to the AQA, teachers and politicians about the decision. He says:
“This is disastrous news for archaeology. Another vital route into the study of the subject is being removed, just at a time when we were looking to expand our support for the revised A-Level and its link with apprenticeships to provide an alternative route into an archaeological career. We need more archaeologists! It is highly regrettable that this decision has been taken behind closed doors with no consultation with the archaeology sector – even the team working on the reform of the A-Level were unaware of the decision until it was announced. We need to talk to the AQA to look at options for protecting A-level archaeology, and we encourage everyone with an interest in archaeology to make their views known to the AQA and to the Government Secretary of State for Education, The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP.”
Please add your voice to the campaign:
Email the AQA via their website
Contact Justine Greening MP via the parliament.uk website
And don't forget to ask your parents and carers to sign the online petition!