01/12/2016 14:51 GMT | Updated 01/12/2016 21:47 GMT

World Of Culture Welcomes Reprieve For Art History A-Level Course

The art history A-level course has been saved from the scrapheap.

Education body Pearson announced it will be taking on the under-threat subject after exam board AQA decided against offering the course from September next year.

The move has been welcomed by artists, museum directors and art historians across the country following a campaign to secure the future of the cherished subject - whose scholars, at degree level, included the Duchess of Cambridge.

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery, said: "The arts are one of the great strengths of the UK and I am pleased that A-level provision in art history will not be interrupted for students starting sixth form in 2017.

"The National Gallery is keen to work with schools that already offer or are thinking of introducing the history of art in their teaching."

British-Indian sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor described the news as "a huge relief".

He said: "Art and art history are the study of what inspires and guides the poetic in us how could we imagine an education with out them."

Artist Cornelia Parker added: "As a working-class girl, receiving free school dinners, I studied art history. It has hugely enriched my life and career and hopefully those of countless students I passed the knowledge on to, during the 15 years I spent teaching at art school.

"Now more than ever, as we face Brexit, we have to fully understand what our cultural capital is and how we can best use it. We should be widening our cultural knowledge not shrinking it."

BBC presenter Simon Schama was among those who campaigned to preserve the A-level after AQA's decision to drop it. 

Latest figures released this summer showed 839 students across the UK studied art history - compared with 15,468 pupils who took one of the board's English options, and 16,266 who did maths.

Rod Bristow, for Pearson, said: "We're pleased to be able to secure the future of A levels in History of Art and Statistics, subject to final accreditation by Ofqual.

"The response from the public, from teachers and from young people shows many people have a real passion for these subjects. We're happy to help make sure they remain available.

"We believe that awarding organisations, government and schools should all work together in the interests of the students who want to have access to these important qualifications."