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Archaeology 'must not become history'

Hey, TMA kids, why not vote?

by Martin Wainwright
Thursday August 26, 2004, The Guardian

Thousands of young archaeologists are rallying to the defence of the country's only GCSE in the subject, which is facing abolition by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance examining board (AQA).

An online opinion poll and petition will be launched today to demand a change of heart over ending the "first-stage" exam which has a record of stimulating interest in A-level and archaeology degrees. Voting will run until September 30.

The campaign has been organised by the Young Archaeologists' Club, which has seen a steady rise in membership following TV series such as Time Team. Although only 350 students sat the exam this year, up to 10 times that number are estimated to want to tackle it, if appropriate teaching can be found.

"We are ready and able to help with that," said Don Henson, an education officer of the Council for British Archaeology, which has organised some of Britain's most distinguished specialists in the country to lobby the exam board. The campaign is also being backed by the presenter of Time Team, the actor Tony Robinson, who called the abolition decision "plain daft".

Mr Robinson said: "We should be making the past more accessible, not burying it. There's a huge interest in archaeology these days, and it's an interesting, exciting and open-air science which specially appeals to the young. How sad it'll be if only those students who stay on into the sixth form are able to take an archaeology exam."

The Young Archaeologists' Club, whose members are currently fighting it out in a national competition to design a prehistoric monument, promised to campaign against the abolition with vim. There may also be a legal challenge to AQA because of the lack of any alternative to their archaeology GCSE.

"They have announced quite a list of GCSEs they plan to get rid of, including accountancy, classical Greek and Russian," said Mr Henson. "But archaeology is the only one which isn't available from any of the other boards."

The AQA has regularly praised the quality of its archaeology candidates, despite teaching shortages.

Jane Posted by Jane
27th August 2004ce

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