Thank you for contacting us about our plans for AS and A-level Archaeology. I am sorry to hear of your concerns.
We are aware of the disappointment and frustration that this decision has created amongst some students, teachers and associations. We’ve received feedback directly, via social media and in recent media coverage. I want to reassure you that we do review all feedback and take note of the points that are raised.
AQA did not reach its decision on Archaeology lightly. We recognise that for the centres and candidates who study it, Archaeology provides an interesting and valuable educational experience. As you know, we intended to continue to offer the course under the current examination reforms and worked with a team of developers to produce a new qualification that we submitted to the regulator for accreditation. The initial rejection of the qualification provided an opportunity to reflect on our continued provision and this period of reflection also enabled us to consider our experience of providing the current course this summer.
Archaeology is a qualification that has very broad coverage, allowing teachers and students to choose from an extensive range of topics and subjects. As a consequence, its structure has a high level of optionality and choice. This can lead to difficulties in recruiting appropriately qualified and experienced examiners and creates difficulties in ensuring effective marking. Coupled with low numbers of candidates, this presents significant challenges to the marking and awarding process.
During the redevelopment process, we worked hard to address these challenges in the new specification. However, we have reluctantly concluded that this has not been possible, and that the requirements of the new specification will pose unacceptably high risks to the safe and secure delivery of students’ results.
We appreciate that this is a disappointment when we’d already committed to redeveloping this qualification. Ofqual’s feedback on our initial submission gave an opportunity to reflect on the delivery challenges around the specification. This, and our experience of the summer 2016 examinations, led us to reach our decision in the autumn. Having done so, we moved as quickly as we could to notify our developers, schools and colleges.
We are confident that our decision will not prevent any students from taking the subject at university, as study at A-level is not an entry requirement for the course in Higher Education.
We have updated our website with further information to help our customers and stakeholders understand our reasons for this decision. I am conscious that setting out the reasons will not lessen your concerns around the decision itself, but I hope it has at least given our full rationale.
Please contact me again if you would like any further information or have any further concerns.
Director: Chief Executive’s Office