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03.01.2017

More debate on axing of Archaeology A-level

MPs interrogate exam board's decision to cull qualification

In December, Tim Loughton MP introduced a Westminster Hall debate 'That this House has considered the future of A level archaeology'.

His opening statements made a passionate case for preserving the qualification: “Archaeology is not some dusty, crusty, outdated subject for eccentric fossils like me. It teaches us about who we are, where we come from, where we can go, and how we relate to those around us. As the great Roman republican senator, consul and historian, Cicero, said, to be ignorant of what happened before one was born is to remain always a child.”

The MP highlighted that archaeology is important not only in preserving cultural heritage but in practical applications too: “If we are to build houses, develop communities and construct major infrastructure projects, we need archaeologists to recce and clear the ground first. If the northern powerhouse, High Speed 2, garden cities and the like are to happen, we need trained archaeologists in at the beginning. They are in short supply, as confirmed by the Chartered Institute of Archaeologists.”

In response, Nick Gibb, the Minister for Schools, said that the government had "left no stone unturned" in the hunt for a new provider for the Archaeology A-level but had been unsuccessful.

He conceded that “securing a pipeline of students to study archaeology at university is clearly very important” but warned that “it would be wrong to assume that only students who study the subject at A-level go on to degree-level study … Archaeology is a broad subject requiring critical analysis and research skills. It covers aspects of art, history, science, sociology and mathematics. Universities look for students who have a range of academic A-levels for entry to their archaeology courses.”

In response to a question in the Lords, Lord Nash, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, replied that no board has come forward to develop a new A-level in archaeology for teaching from 2017 but that "the option for an exam board to develop qualifications in this subject in future will remain open".

Read the debate in full and follow Icon on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Image: Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0

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