Help David Blunkett and higher education professionals save the citizenship A level

Friday 13 February 2015

Exam board AQA is the only awarding body to offer citizenship A level, but has now decided to drop it. We think this decision is absurd and baffling.

We have written to Geoff Coombe, AQA’s Director of General Qualifications Development, to implore him to change his mind.

We have also started a petition at The more supporters we can get, the better: please sign the petition and encourage others to do the same.

The letter to Mr Coombe (reproduced in full, below) was sent from a group of us: Association for Citizenship Teaching, Citizenship Foundation, Subject Advisory Group for citizenship, Political Studies Association, Active Citizens FE and Democratic Life.

It was signed by David Blunkett MP, Lord Phillips of Sudbury and a list of 16 experts that included respected, higher education professionals.

Dear Geoff,

We are writing to express our concern about your intention, announced without prior consultation, to withdraw from AS and A Level Citizenship Studies from 2017. We believe there are compelling reasons for you to reverse this decision.

As you will know – following a period of some uncertainty – Citizenship has been retained as part of the reformed National Curriculum and a new GCSE in Citizenship Studies has just been agreed. It is essential for students who develop particular interests in this subject that there is a direct progression opportunity at AS and A Level, not least because such opportunities are to be in place for all other National Curriculum subjects.

Further, as a subject that combines academic knowledge and understanding with practical action, Citizenship Studies makes an excellent contribution to the development of generic employability skills and preparation for higher education. It is it widely accepted for university entrance, carrying full UCAS points and is cited, for example by Cambridge University and the LSE, as a good subject choice for students preparing for a range of arts, political and social science degree courses.

Also, considered more broadly, the need to develop and strengthen Citizenship Education and qualification opportunities has never been greater. The impetus for effective citizenship learning includes on-going concerns about the disaffection of young people from formal political processes, the implications of a possible reduction in the voting age to 16 and further requirements for schools and colleges to prevent extremism and engage their students with British values including democracy and the rule of law.

We are certain about great potential for a renewed expansion in the number of candidates coming forward for AS and A Level Citizenship Studies. In relation to numbers and the issues cited by AQA for smaller subjects, we would point out that Citizenship Studies – despite a temporarily difficult period – has continued to attract significantly larger numbers than others included in your list of proposed new A Levels. For example, in 2014 there were 385 entries for A Level Archaeology and 653 for A Level Citizenship Studies, while at AS Level the figures were 860 for Archaeology and 2,874 for Citizenship Studies.

In view of these considerations we, and the growing number of teachers and centres who have already been in contact with us, ask that you re-consider the position and make Citizenship Studies part of your new AS and A Level offer from 2017. Not to do so would severely damage AQA’s reputation as the awarding body and educational charity to have done most to champion a wide range of qualifications for citizenship education and support smaller entry subjects on educational grounds.

Thank you for giving consideration to our letter. We should be very pleased to have an opportunity to discuss the case for A Level Citizenship Studies with you further.

Yours sincerely,

  • Rt Hon David Blunkett MP, President, Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT)
  • Lord Phillips of Sudbury, President, the Citizenship Foundation
  • The Baroness Walmsley
  • Lord Roberts of Llandudno
  • Rob Pope, Director Active Citizens FE
  • Matt Flinders, Founding Director of the Crick Centre for Understanding Politics and Chair of the Political Studies Association (PSA)
  • Mrs Liz Moorse, Chair of the Expert Subject Advisory Group for Citizenship and Chair of Democratic Life
  • Professor Gerry Stoker, Director, Centre for Citizenship, Governance and Globalization
  • University of Southampton
  • Dr James Sloam, Royal Holloway University of London and Convenor of the PSA special interest group on Young People’s Politics
  • Dr Claire Sutherland, Senior Lecturer in Politics, Deputy Head of Faculty in Social Sciences and Health (Undergraduates), Durham University
  • Dr Andrew Mycock, University of Huddersfield, Member of Youth Citizenship Commission (2008-9)
  • Professor Paul Whiteley, Department of Government, University of Essex
  • Alistair Ross, Emeritus Professor at London Metropolitan University and Jean Monnet Professor for Citizenship
  • Professor Jon Tonge, Director of Post Graduate Research Politics and Chair of Youth Citizenship Commission (2008-9)
  • Dr Lee Jerome, Queen’s University, Belfast and member of the Expert Subject Advisory Group for Citizenship
  • Professor Ian Davies, Deputy Head of School, University of York
  • David Kerr, University of Bristol, Director of the NFER Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study 2001-10


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One Response to “Help David Blunkett and higher education professionals save the citizenship A level”

  1. […] a coalition of organisations that supports citizenship education and which includes the BHA, has organised a letter to AQA, signed by David Blunkett MP, President of the Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT), Lord […]

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