After this warning from JACT the news in today's Guardian didn't come as a big surprise.
“There is a major row about to erupt over the future of A Level Anc. History. It should make the TES this Friday and there is a press release going to all papers on the same day, sent by Peter Jones. Please urge your members to write to their paper and their MP and QCA etc.”
So, read the report and write accordingly.
Ancient history A-level faces axe
Friday March 30, 2007
Ancient history will disappear as an A-level if recommendations from an examination board are approved later this year.
The OCR board announced today it proposed to abolish the qualification as part of its plans to reorganise its four classics A-levels.
The exam board wants to replace its four existing classics subjects – ancient history, classical civilisation, Greek and Latin – with new models.
Ancient history will disappear as a subject in its own right. Instead students will choose from four new A-levels in Latin, classical Greek, classical civilisation and a new subject title, classics.
The OCR said that it was committed to offering classics at A-level but wanted to design qualifications that would “flourish” over the next decade.
The new qualifications would offer students more flexibility to specialise in the areas of classics that interest them, it said.
For the first time students studying Latin or Greek, for example, would be able to combine units of languages with units of literature in translation and historical units.
An OCR spokesman said: “Similar content to that in ancient history is covered within the classical civilisation units. In addition, across the classical Civilisation units there is a new ethos which requires candidates to study sources in their historical and cultural context.”
He added: “By enabling candidates to combine elements of language and literary study with other aspects of classics, we should ensure better that students are better able to progress from GCSE to A-level and then into higher education or work.”
According to OCR's latest figures ancient history A-level was sat by 530 students in 2006 while 2,350 sat classical civilisation. Some 183 sat classical Greek while 927 students took Latin.
But the recommendations, which follow earlier public consultation, alarmed the shadow higher education minister, Boris Johnson, who is taking over the presidency of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers in May.
He said: “The birth of Athenian democracy, the transition of Rome from republic to empire: these were critical events in the shaping of our civilisation.
“How can we understand ourselves if we cut ourselves off from our past? You can't just subsume the study of ancient history into the study of classical civilisation.
“You might as well say that you can learn English history through the study of English language and literature.”
He claimed only by studying ancient history can students become “properly familiar” with the texts of Greek and Roman historians, and with the use of historical sources.
Mr Johnson said if ancient history disappeared as an A-level it would be “another battle in the general dumbing-down of Britain.”
He said: “Once again, a tough, rewarding, crunchy subject is poised to give way to the softer option.”
The decision, he said, was perverse because the number of students taking the subject had risen by 300% since 2000.
He said: “Look at the immense interest in the Persian wars, and the success of the new film about Leonidas and the Spartans.
“It is demented that the authorities should now be cutting off the supply, just when the demand is rising. The Spartans were fighting to save their civilisation – and so are we.”
The new classics A-levels would need approval from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority before they can be introduced.
If approval is given later this year students could start to study for the new exams in 2008.