AAH Schools Committee Response to Completing GCSE, AS and A Level Reform, June 2014

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1 AAH Schools Committee Response to Completing GCSE, AS and A Level Reform, June 2014 History of Art A Level is currently only offered, for teaching in England and Wales, by one examination board namely AQA. There is therefore no conflict regarding the core content of the syllabus. AQA is a charity and has made a commitment to invest in the continuation of the subject despite the relatively small number of students taking the subject. Numbers as quoted in the Completing GCSE, AS and A Level Reform, June AS level candidates (p23) and 943 A2 candidates (p24).* History of Art is therefore one of only two subjects (the other being Music Technology) in the cited published statistics where the number is larger at A2. This suggests that some schools are already taking all examinations at the end of the two year period and almost all students who begin History of Art in the AS year stay on to complete the A Level. This is testament to the interest and value that students, teachers and schools place on the subject. The continuation of History of Art, which is a discrete subject, as will be set out below, is necessary for the declared aim to ensure a reasonable choice of qualifications (p8). Principles to determine subject availability : Re 4.16: AS qualifications: Internationally History of Art is available in other assessments such as Standard Level of the International Baccalaureate Approximately 2,000 schools in USA offer the subject to Advanced Placement examinations Most European countries acknowledge the subject within their curriculum. History of Art enables students to broaden the range of subjects they study because it is not available at GCSE. It supports their progression to further education as it is a well-established university discipline including Russell Group universities. Employment: Significance of the heritage and cultural industries which are so central to our economic welfare. The government statistics from February 2013 state: they are worth more than 36 billion a year; they generate 70,000 every minute for the UK economy; and they employ 1.5 million people in the UK. According to industry figures, the creative industries account for around 1 in every 10 of the UK s exports. With the right support, they have the potential to bring even more benefits to our culture and economy. https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/making-it-easier-for-the-media-and-creative-industries-to-growwhile-protecting-the-interests-of-citizens A recent statement from the Labour Party takes up a similar position: Our cultural creativity is admired and envied and consumed around the world. That s why the creative economy already accounts for over 2.5 million jobs and contributed over 70billion a year to the UK s economy

2 and 15.5 billion of exports. Creative industries are growing faster than any other sector : A Level: The History of Art A Level as it stands meets all stated requirements. B Level of Demand Teachers are in no doubt that the academic demand of History of Art is comparable with other core humanities such as English Literature and History. In 2003 the rigour of the demand was shown in the ALIS statistics which proved that it was more difficult to achieve an A grade (NB A* didn t exist) in History of Art than in Physics or Mathematics at A Level. C Validity: The present A Level is assessed by written examination only. E Separation of Subjects History of Art is a discrete subject. It is an entirely scholarly discipline. It does not involve any practical art. It has the same processes and intellectual rigour as History or English Literature applied to a different territory that of visual culture in the widest sense. It necessitates a specialist vocabulary. Visual imagery is the dominant language of our modern world. This subject is the only one which will ensure a historically informed set of skills for the critical visual analysis of that world. It could be argued that such core skills of visual literacy should be as compulsory as the study of literature. At the heart of the subject is historical methodology. The student will have both breadth and depth in their knowledge of visual culture on completion of the course. Chronology, understanding and explaining the changing definition of visual culture as a response to wider social, political and economic conditions are at the heart of the subject, no matter what the specific content may be. Many of the stakeholders (teachers, students, schools, universities, cultural industries) argue for the richness of the range of intellectual sources and debates that can be brought to bear on the study of History of Art such as religious studies, classics, philosophy, politics as well as sociology and anthropology. Frequent reference is made in the press to the skills that universities find lacking amongst their first year students, namely researching, finding sources, essay-writing and referencing, and the wider skills of problem-solving, analysis and critical thinking (Ofqual). History of Art addresses all of these skills directly at AS and A2 level, it offers not just a broad learning experience but true learning. The accumulation of cultural capital the acquisition of knowledge is the key to social mobility (Michael Gove, February 2013). GCE Subject Level Guidance Please note that QCA published GCE AS and A Level Subject Criteria for History of Art (ref QCA/06/2855) in September These are still available on line which is included as an appendix below. This document could serve as a base for the formation of new Subject Level Guidance documents along the lines that have now been published for the relevant reformed A Levels in History and English Literature. Having studied both History and English Literature, it would appear that the Assessment Objectives offer some interesting parallels.

3 We also note with interest that those documents share the same Guidance in relation to non-examination assessment for GCE A levels: an awarding organisation must ensure that 20% of the total marks available for a GCE A level in XXXXX are made available through non-examination assessments. We would positively welcome this development for History of Art A Level. Appendix: GCE AS and A level subject criteria for History of Art September 2006 QCA/06/2855 Contents 1. Introduction 3 2. Aims 4 3. Subject content 4 4. Key skills 6 5. Assessment objectives 6 6. Scheme of assessment 7 1. Introduction 1.1 Advanced subsidiary (AS) and advanced (A) level subject criteria set out the knowledge, understanding, skills and assessment objectives common to all AS and A level specifications in a given subject. They provide the framework within which the awarding body creates the detail of the specification. Subject criteria are intended to: help ensure consistent and comparable standards in the same subject across the awarding bodies define the relationship between the AS and A level specifications, with the AS as a subset of the A level ensure that the rigour of A level and standards are maintained over time help higher education institutions and employers know what has been studied and assessed. History of art is interpreted as the historical, theoretical and critical study of one or more of the areas of western or non-western art, architecture, craft and design. Any specification that contains significant elements of the subject history of art must be consistent with the relevant parts of these subject criteria. The critical and contextual endorsement of GCE art and design provides the appropriate alternative for those who intend to respond through practical forms. 2. Aims 1. Unless made clear otherwise, art in this document is to be understood in the broad collective sense here defined, and not simply referring to (fine) art. 2.1 History of art subject criteria aim to develop specifications that allow candidates to demonstrate their historical, theoretical and critical study of one or more of the areas of western or non-western art, architecture, craft and design. 2.2 AS and A level specifications in history of art should encourage students to develop and communicate their knowledge and understanding of:

4 the roles and achievements of practitioners the relationship between society and art art historical terms, concepts and issues methods of researching, investigating and analysing use of evidence and how works are interpreted and evaluated. 3. Subject content 3.1 AS and A2 specifications in history of art should specify that the student engages in historical, theoretical and critical study encouraging, where possible, looking and learning through first-hand experience of artworks. The subject criteria require specifications to be developed that encourage students to participate actively in their course of study, recognising and developing their own strengths in the subject and identifying and sustaining their own lines of enquiry. In this way the criteria should facilitate and encourage independent learning and provide a stimulating experience. Knowledge, understanding and skills 3.2 At AS, specifications in history of art should include opportunities for students to develop: the foundations of knowledge and understanding of art historical movements, practitioners and works, considering the way that these change and evolve within chronological and other frameworks the ability and confidence to express and communicate knowledge and understanding awareness of art historical terms, concepts and issues knowledge and understanding of the significance of techniques and materials in the creation of artefacts understanding of the principal methods of analysis and interpretation the ability to make critical judgements active and independent learning.

5 3.3. At A level, specifications should build on the AS, allowing for greater depth of study by providing the opportunities to develop: an awareness of different sources of historical evidence understanding of the relationships between society and art within historical and other frameworks knowledge and understanding of the significance and role of environment, setting, display and audiences an understanding of art historical approaches, such as technical, formal, iconographic and contextual increased independence in learning skills to explore, enquire, evaluate, discuss and compare evidence, develop and support persuasive argument and counter-argument. Structure 3.4 All specifications will comprise four units, externally set and marked. 4 Key skills 4.1 AS and A level specifications in history of art should provide opportunities for developing and generating evidence for assessing relevant key skills from the list below. Where appropriate these opportunities should be directly cross-referenced, at specified level(s), to the key skills standards, which may be found on the QCA website (www.qca.org.uk). Application of number Communication Improving own learning and performance Information and communication technology Problem solving 6 Working with others 5. Assessment objectives 5.1 All candidates are required to meet the following assessment objectives. The assessment objectives are to be weighted within the tolerances in all specifications as indicated. Assessments will be relative to the opportunities and demands within the AS and A2 examinations. Assessment objectives weighting AS level A2 level AO1 Knowledge: Source, select, recall material to demonstrate knowledge effectively. 33% 20 30% AO2 Understanding: Demonstrate understanding 33% 20-30% through analysis and make substantiated judgements and sustained discussion and/or arguments

6 AO3 Communication: Present a, clear and coherent 33% 20-30% response. AO4 Synopsis: Apply knowledge and 20-30% understanding of the relationships between aspects of art historical study. 6. Scheme of assessment 6.1 Assessment of this subject must be entirely through external assessment. Synoptic assessment 6.2 All specifications must include synoptic assessment. The definition of synoptic assessment in the context of history of art is as follows. Synoptic assessment involves the candidate in drawing together the knowledge, understanding and skills learnt in different parts of the A level course Synoptic assessment is primarily assessed through AO4 at A2. The aims at A2 reflect the increased synoptic requirement. Quality of written communication 6.3 AS and A Level specifications will be required to assess the candidates quality of written communication in accordance with the guidance document produced by QCA. This is a response by the AAH Schools Committee, July For more information about the AAH schools group go to

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