Creative writing and food-technology A level at risk of chop

More than 5,000 people have signed petitions against government plans to cull two A-level subjects.

A consultation into the scrapping of the food technology A-level was launched days before the summer term ended, a move that has raised concerns that the proposal has been hidden from wider notice.

In the documents, the Department for Education (DfE) said pupils could achieve vocational qualifications in “butchery or confectionery” in place of the A-level – a statement that has angered teachers.

This week it was also announced that the creative writing A-level, launched in 2013, will not be redeveloped and will be last examined in the summer of 2018.

In May, exams regulator Ofqual said that it was “sufficiently confident” creative writing could be developed to meet its “principles” for remaining as an A-level.

But AQA, the subject’s awarding body, announced this week that the DfE would not develop a new version of the qualification as it was not possible to draft “content in accordance with guidance”. It was not distinct from English literature and language.

Food technology and creative writing have just under 3,000 entries between them, but the department says the small number was
not a reason for its decisions.

Advocates claim the government has shown it does not understand the subjects and how academically rigorous they are, a term favoured by the DfE when discussing future subject criteria.

Garry Littlewood, subject leader for food and textiles technology at Huntington School, York, said: “Food tech is not just about
cooking. Offering butchery as an alternative shows how little they [the government] understand the subject.

“It is a popular course and it is very academic. Three pupils are doing A-level chemistry alongside food tech; it is a subject that appeals to all learners.”

Mr Littlewood said the timing of the consultation did not help. “It was put out the Thursday before the end of term, hidden in the design technology document. I think some people have just not noticed – in the past two weeks since school started more than 2,000 people have signed a petition against the cut.”

A proponent of the creative writing A-level, Barbara Bleiman, English and Media Centre co-director, said: “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 or classical civilisation, or Latin and Greek [all of which are GCSEs].”

More than 2,500 people have signed a petition calling on education secretary Nicky Morgan to reinstate the A-level.

An AQA spokesperson said the decision was out of its hands. “We appreciate this is disappointing for teachers and students, but we’ll do our best to respond to their needs through our other qualifications.”

An Ofqual spokesperson said there had been no certainty the creative writing course would be developed, adding: “The DfE has subsequently determined it is not possible to draft content for this subject that was suitably rigorous and distinct from other subjects.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “Arts education should be as rigorous as the rest of the school curriculum. That’s why students will be given the opportunity to demonstrate their creative writing skills as part of reformed, gold standard English literature and language A-levels – subjects many universities look for when selecting students for creative writing courses.”

On the food technology qualification, the Ofqual spokesperson said: “The DfE has stated in its consultation proposals regarding design and technology that, following feedback from higher education practitioners and subject experts, food does not fit comfortably within this subject.”

She said a number of “high-quality vocational qualifications in food-related subjects” were available.

The DfE spokesperson said the nine-week consultation for food tech took the summer holidays into account. It ends on Thursday.

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