Sir Tony Robinson has criticised exam board AQA’s decision to scrap their A Level in Archaeology, backing a campaign to save the subject.
The Time Team presenter is one of almost 12,000 people who have signed a petition protesting AQA’s decision, saying it is simply a “money saving tactic”.
Robinson told the Guardian: “To take away the chance for children to study archaeology at A-level seems to me to be a barbaric act.”
“How could you remove such a tranche of valuable subjects from our A-levels? The removal of all that knowledge is awful,” he said.
“It feels like the Visigoths at the gates of Rome”.
AQA is currently the only examining body that allows A Level students to study Archeology.
This summer, 369 students took the Archaeology A Level exam, with a further 621 sitting the AS Level test.
The exam board’s announcement to drop the subject comes during a cull of niche subjects, with History of Art and Classical Civilisation also being scrapped.
The movement away from these courses are part of changes initiated by former education secretary Michael Gove. Under this scheme, exams must have more open-ended questions, which need expert markers.
A spokesperson for AQA said: “Our number one priority is making sure every student gets the result they deserve – and unfortunately the number of very specialist options we have to offer in this subject’s exams creates too many risks on that front. That’s why we’ve taken the difficult decision not to continue our work creating a new AS and A-level.
“Our decision has nothing to do with the importance of archaeology, and it won’t stop students going on to do a degree in it as we’re not aware of any universities that require an A-level in the subject.”
Students who are currently taking these subjects will be able to continue their studies, with the last A Level exams to be taken in 2018.
But AQA’s decision has caused outrage and a petition to save A Level Archaeology has gained almost 12,000 supporters.
Dan Boatright, an Archaeology teacher from Worcester, started the campaign, saying the subject “enabled students to discuss complex ideas about what it means to be human”.
On the Change.org page, Boatright wrote: “The exam board AQA have decided to scrap A level archaeology. As a subject leader of this awesome A level I am not starting this petition to keep my job, I am doing this to ensure that my students are not the last ones to experience this fantastic subject.
“It is not a soft subject, it requires a knowledge of Science, History, English Literature, and allows you to develop skills that are required in so may walks of life.
“Let’s save this subject from what is clearly a money saving tactic,” he continued. “AQA is a registered charity, it needs to act like one.”
Rena Maguire, a PhD candidate from the Queen’s University Belfast, commented on the petition: “When students come to us at degree level, already with an A level in archaeology, they have a solid grounding for the start of a profession. And it is a profession which incorporates geochemistry, biology and many others, fusing them with engineering sciences.
“It is folly to remove this - or the classics for that matter when they give the story of how we have a modern society. Or is that the whole point of removing them from courses offered?”
Another supporter added: “I loved my A-level archaeology! It gives such a broad understanding for such a wide range of subjects from anthropology to history and everything in between!
“Please don’t deny future generations the joy of learning about all of it!”