Is this the end of creativity at A-Level?
Two years after A-levels in creative writing were introduced by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) examination board the Department of Education (Dfe) has announced that the subject will be cut from curriculum. In 2013 the A-level subject was created with the help from creative writers and academics, and although the DfE concluded that “there are connections between Creative Writing and English” and that “Creative writing is (or could be construed to be) more skills-based than knowledge-based”, it is still being cut by the government.
The government plans to review the A-level curriculum and due to this has announced that “it has not been possible to draft subject content in accordance with the department’s guidance”, therefore cutting the creative writing A-level, which has sparked outrage with academics across the country.
Professor of Newcastle University, Jennifer Richards expressed “the key question is whether we understand the value of creativity and communications and whether they can only be taught at a certain age”. Richards, the chair of the English Association’s HE committee asked “can’t we teach creativity and communications at schools as well as university? These seem to me to be vital skills whether you go on to further studies in the field or not”.
Steve May, playwright, novelist and dean of the School of Humanities and Cultural Industries at Bath Spa University stated “the demand for creative writing courses in universities has grown exponentially” over the last decade. May, who until recently ran the UK’s largest department in creative writing also argued that if the subject had continued “students would have been at a much a higher level and ready for something more advanced”.
AQA’s regulator Ofqual stated that the last time exams will be taken in AS and A-level will be in summer 2017 and 2018 respectively. However, Ofqual are still consulting on the availability of the re-sits which will only be available for students who are currently studying A-level Creative Writing, and who have previously obtained a certificate in the subject. The re-sit examinations are expected to be available in summer 2018 and 2019, for AS and A-Level.
However, more than 6,000 people have signed petitions against the government plans to axe Food Technology and Creative writing A-levels. People have become outraged as in May Ofqual stated that they were “sufficiently confident” that creative writing could be developed to meet their principles for continuing as an A-level. Although Ofqual had concerns and explained “there is no certainty… to develop content that meets our principles” they also stated that “exams boards will start developing core content requirements”. These developments would have been overseen by the DfE, and if proved successful, the specification would be available for schools in Autumn 2016 and available to students in September 2017.
An AQA spokesperson said that the decision was out of its hands and will continue to respond to the needs of teachers and students through other qualifications.
Barbara Bleiman, a proponent of A-level creative writing expressed “The DfE claims there is not enough difference between creative writing and English Literature, but that is like saying there is no difference between history and ancient history”.
Other AS and A-level subjects which are being cut from AQA’s curriculum are Communication and Culture studies, General studies, Health and Social Care, Human Biology and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
To read the announcement from the Department of Education you can find more information here.