Archaeology A-Level, a Letter from the president.

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Dear AQA, 

As President of Cornwall Archaeological Society I want to protest on behalf of my Members at the decision of AQA to withdraw their support for the Archaeology A Level, having cut the Archaeology GCSC in 2005. 

In your introduction to the Archaeology A Level, your website helpfully makes the case for its retention: 

“Archaeology – the study of past human societies from the investigation of material remains – is one of the most exciting subjects in the curriculum. It is the ultimate subject for an ‘all-round’ student, in that it combines elements of many other academic disciplines, such as Science, Art, Technology, Geography, History, Sociology and Religious Studies”.

The business of education is to widen students’ horizons and provide them with the tools to better understand and make their way in the world. Archaeology is now a well established profession for thousands and a passionate interest for millions. Here in Cornwall, we recognise the value of heritage, not only in helping to define our cultural identity but as an important pillar of the local economy. Cornwall has the largest number of statutory international, national and local heritage designations of any unitary authority and Cornwall Council owns and manages the largest portfolio of heritage sites of any local authority in the country. The study of history and past cultures is embedded in the National Curriculum, and in Cornwall the outstanding Royal Cornwall Museum education service is packed with students using archaeology to explore the past. It seems perverse and misguided that one of the most popular subjects in further and higher education, in extra curricular learning, and for programmes and articles in the media, should have its educational roots pruned for the sake of a few resources. 

The UK has an outstanding international reputation for archaeology in education and heritage management, and has the oldest archaeological societies in the world. It seems inexplicable therefore that the 6th richest country in the world should feel the necessity to further restrict access to one of this country’s greatest cultural assets.  

My Society urges AQA to reconsider its decision to withdraw the Archaeology A level. 

Nicholas Johnson MBE, MA, BSc, FSA, CIfA

President Cornwall Archaeological Society