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PSA Teachers' E-Newsletter: July 2017

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to use this newsletter to wish all of our teacher members a relaxing and restful summer break! In this shorter newsletter we bring you news of:

- Launch of Student Video Competition

- More dates for Applying to Study Politics Workshops

Happy Holidays! 

2017 Student Video Competition Launch

Our question for 2017 is:


This year's Student Video Competition focuses on the relationship between politics and media by exploring the issue of fake news and its effects on contemporary political life. 

For more information on the competition theme and entry requirements see here.

Finalists will be shortlisted and invited to attend a Jury Meeting in the House of Commons on 7 November and the winners will receive their prize at the PSA Annual Awards in December.

The event is supported by YouGov and the winners will have the opportunity to do a week's work placement with the polling company in their London offices.

The deadline for entries is 12 noon on Monday 23 October 2017.

See here for a ready to print competition poster.

For more information on how to enter please contact me via: josh.niderost@psa.ac.uk.

PSA FREE Applying to Study Politics Workshops

Our programme of Applying to Study Politics continues in September. We will be holding workshops in Belfast, Cardiff and Nottingham. 

These events enable students who will be applying for university in Autumn 2017 an opportunity to gain a better understanding about the reality of studying Politics at undergraduate level and its benefits.

The Nottingham workshop will take place on Friday 22 September. See here to sign up. 

The Belfast workshop will take place on Tuesday 26 September. See here to sign up. 

The Cardiff workshop will take place on Thursday 28 September. See here to sign up. 

For more information please contact Josh Niderost via: josh.niderost@psa.ac.uk

Renewal Britannia

To mark the 20th anniversary of the ‘Cool Britannia' era, and in the context of the decision to leave the European Union, the cross party think tank Demos joined with the British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, for a unique special edition of the Demos Quarterly journal of ideas.

See here for the online version of the report. 

Challenges of the new A-level Politics

Andrew Heywood

At the time of writing, we are still awaiting the publication of the approved versions of the new Edexcel and AQA A-level Politics specifications. However, these specifications are unlikely to contain major surprises, as they will have been constructed in line with Ofqual's unusually detailed subject content for A-level Politics. Although the awarding bodies can adopt differing approaches to the subject content, they cannot disregard it and have only a limited scope to include material that does not feature in it.

The challenges of the new A-level Politics stem either from structural changes that have been made to the wider A-level system, and so affect all A-level subjects, or from the requirements that Ofqual has laid down for Politics specifically. Examples of the former include the fact that, in their 'Govean' incarnation, the new A-levels are studied at A-level standard throughout the period of study, ending the division of A-level qualifications into AS and A2 components. Under this, AS levels, serving as the first year of A-level study, had acted effectively as a 'bridge' between GCSE study and full A-level study. Furthermore, the modular assessment system, in which students had a number of opportunities to resit individual units, has been replaced by a series of end-of-course examinations.

Nevertheless, some important challenges are specific to A-level Politics itself. The first, and most obvious, of these is that the new A-level Politics is significantly larger, in terms of the scope of its subject content, than the one it replaces. Indeed, it is larger than any previous version of A-level Politics. This is because the conventional two-course model, in which students take a compulsory course on UK Government and Politics in their first year, followed by an optional course in their second year, is being replaced by a three-course model that features two compulsory courses (one on UK Government and Politics and the other on Political Ideas) and an optional course (with a choice between US Government and Politics and Global Politics, although AQA is only offering the former). What is more, the new courses have a broadly similar scope to the ones they are replacing, with the possible exception of Political Ideas (although this is made up for by the course's level of theoretical and conceptual sophistication).

The second challenge applies specifically to the course on Political Ideas. In this, students are required to study four political ideologies, three of which are compulsory (liberalism, conservatism and socialism), with a fourth one being chosen from a list of five 'other' or 'non-core' ideologies. However, in relation to each ideology, they are also required to study the ideas of five stipulated thinkers, who, supposedly, represent the ideology or some aspect of the ideology. This dual requirement nevertheless confronts students with difficulties. For example, when constructing answers students will need to strike an appropriate balance between, on the one hand, a focus on the core ideas and principles of the ideology in question, and, on the other hand, a focus on the ideas of representative thinkers. To make matters more complex, they also need to recognise that this balance may differ from question to question, depending on the aspects of the ideology to which the thinkers have contributed.

The third and final challenge applies specifically to the course on US Government and Politics. With a possible view to ensuring comparability between this course and the other optional course, on Global Politics, an additional level of difficulty has been added. This has been done by requiring students to know, understand and, crucially, be able to apply three theoretical approaches to the study of comparative politics (the structural, rational and cultural). Such a requirement ensures that the demands of the US Government and Politics course go beyond those of previous such courses, which have focused, more straightforwardly, either on the workings of the US political system, or on similarities and differences between the US and UK political systems.

Andrew Heywood was Vice-Principal at Croydon College, and has been an AS and A-level Chief Examiner in Government and Politics. He is author of many best-selling texts, including Politics, Political Ideologies and Global Politics.

Essentials of UK Politics
Find out more here.

Examiner Opportunities at Pearson

Pearson currently have exciting opportunities for qualified teachers to join their Assessment Associate Team, as Examiners for their GCE A Level Government and Politics qualification.

If you have any queries regarding the role, please contact the AA Recruitment team on aaresourcing@pearson.com. For more infromation about Examiner opportunities at Pearson please click here.

News from the PSA Blog

The PSA Blog features contemporary content from academic members of the PSA in response to news or fresh research findings. 

Tim Bale (QMUL) asks: Was it the Labour doorstep or the Labour smartphone that swung it for Jeremy?

Victoria Honeyman and Simon Lightfoot (Leeds) ask: Does UK International Development aid benefit Britain?

Finally, Elena Afromeeva et al (Bournemouth) examine: Post-truth: its meaning and implications for democracy

Keeping up-to-date with the PSA schools' initiatives

Follow the PSA on Twitter or search for the #PSAschools hashtag for real time updates on all our schools' activities, news and campaigns.

As a PSA Teacher Member you have full access to the Schools’ Area of the PSA website.  Here you can find all the latest information about the following initiatives we offer to schools:

•         Free Speakers Programmes for Schools sessions
•         Free professional development resources
•         Free subscriptions to leading publications, including Political Insight
•         Priority registration to PSA schools' events
•         Priority registration for student career workshops

Keeping In Touch...

Don't forget, members can access the Teachers' e-News archive online here.

We're always keen to hear from you, so please keep in touch or let the PSA know how we can serve you better. If you feel any colleagues would be interested in this e-Newsletter, please forward them a copy.

With very best wishes,

Josh Niderost

Programme Development and Outreach Officer

020 7321 2545
PSA Head Office, 113a Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6HJ.