Campaigners are battling to save the citizenship A level after AQA announced plans to drop it from 2017.
An online petition launched by organisations backing the campaign, including the Citizenship Foundation, the Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT) and Democratic Life, has received more than 650 signatures.
Supporters have also written to AQA, the only exam board to offer A level citizenship, asking it to reconsider its decision.
The letter was signed by former education secretary and ACT honorary president David Blunkett, Citizenship Foundation president Lord Phillips of Sudbury, and 16 leading academics and politicians.
It states: “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.”
The letter added that A level citizenship is widely accepted for university entrance, carries full UCAS points and is cited by institutions like Cambridge and the LSE as a good subject choice for arts, political and social science degree courses.
Supporters argue that the subject is more important than ever amid concerns about young people’s disaffection with politics and suggestions that the voting age could be lowered to 16. They say students taking the citizenship GCSE need “a proper, active citizenship A level to progress to”.
Dr Andrew Mycock, reader in politics at the University of Huddersfield, said dropping A level citizenship would be “short-sighted and ill-considered”. He added: “All research evidence indicates that citizenship studies enhances student learning and encourages greater civic participation.”
Caroline Naylor, learning for life coordinator at Brighouse High School in West Yorkshire, said:
“A level citizenship is a subject that encourages students to spend time becoming aware of the world in which they are living. The diversity of content provided by citizenship is not found in sociology or politics.”
AQA has agreed to meet David Blunkett to discuss the issue this month. A spokeswoman said: “As an education charity we need to use our resources where they most benefit young people and with the number of students taking AS or A level citizenship almost halving since 2011, it’s clearly no longer meeting the needs of most schools and colleges.
"We’re also aware that Ofqual has concerns about citizenship continuing at this level, due to similarities with the government and politics course, which we do intend to keep offering. We realise that the schools and colleges whose students have taken this qualification in the past will be disappointed and we’ve contacted them to provide as much notice as possible and suggest suitable alternatives.”
You can access the petition at http://chn.ge/1vSEfFi CAPTION: Vital: Campaigners argue citizenship is key to tackling a range of issues, including political disaffection (Photo: iStock)