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PSA Teachers' E-Newsletter: February 2017

Dear Colleagues,

We hope that you have an enjoyable Shrove Tuesday tomorrow with plans for consuming lots of pancakes! For the shortest month of the year, we have a short newsletter with three important news items. 

-  A message from David Wendelken, Chair of the PSA Teachers' Network

- A reminder of the deadline for the consultation on the PSA's 10 Year Strategic Plan

- Details of the Schools' Event at the PSA Conference in Glasgow 

Message from the Teachers' Network Chair

Dear Members, 

I wanted to write to you all and introduce myself as the new Head of the Teachers’ Network, and to explain what we hope to be achieving in the forthcoming months and years. Professor Matt Flinders, Chair of the PSA, has been working on a ten year strategy for the PSA and he very much wants schools, colleges and secondary education institutions to be a central part of the PSA community.

We are, of course, at another one of those crossroads where at the time of writing, we await the final approval of the new specification for A Level Politics. This, of course, is not a satisfactory situation, and at the last PSA Executive Committee meeting I explained the pressures this is generating. The PSA will continue to work with the exam boards to attempt to resolve the matter of approval as soon as possible. 

This is both an exciting and a challenging time, and I hope that the PSA can help with the transition. On the positive side, our students should be some of the best prepared candidates for Politics degrees, and the university sector wants us to be involved in keeping them up to date with how successful or otherwise the new specifications prove to be.  At the same time, many institutions are under pressure with the new linear A level courses and are only offering students three courses at A Level instead of four. We are aware that some teachers are experiencing a drop in numbers. In the coming months we hope to produce promotional material encouraging the study of Politics at this level. 

The new course also offers challenges in terms of teaching expertise and resources. We will all be teaching ideologies and for some this will be a change. Similarly, a new option in Global Politics has been strongly supported by the university sector, but again this sets comparable challenges. We will be working with our university colleagues to provide up to date and accessible resources for our classes, and we have started planning a conference to be held early in 2018 where we will review how the new specification is working and will offer workshops in Ideologies, US and Global Politics, as well as events throughout 2017.

We on the committee need to hear from you to see how best the PSA can support its teacher members. Please email us any thoughts and suggestions. We have a world class resource bank, comprising the expertise of our university sector, which is keen to help either by producing resources or offering input to schools. It is important that we increase our membership as it is clear the PSA is not well known amongst Politics teachers. To remedy this, we aim to try to establish regional and cluster groups, and your help in spreading the word will be vital.

I feel that we have a real opportunity to provide members access to resources and events to assist with teaching the new qualification and to build a meaningful relationship with the university sector which will be of enormous benefit to ourselves and our students.

Best wishes,

David Wendelken, Chair of the PSA Teachers' Network 

10 Year Strategic Plan - Consultation Ends Soon

As you will be aware. the PSA is current consulting on its new Ten-Year Strategic Plan. 

The aim of this document is to develop and continue the momentum of previous years by setting down very clearly, and for the first time, the PSA’s core aims and ambitions. The aim is not to create an organisational straitjacket, but to set out a clear direction of travel in terms of where the PSA is going and how it intends to get there. This, in turn, will not only drive the various work streams of the PSA but it will also make it far easier for members to see the value of the organisation and the benefits of membership.

Please see the news story about this on the PSA website here. The draft consultation document can be accessed here.  For an accessible document format please click here

The Deadline for consultation is this Friday 3 March. Please email Sarah Brown, Interim CEO of the PSA with your views. It would be great to have as many teachers represented in this process as possible. 

PSA Conference: Schools Talk with Alasdair Allan MSP

April will see the PSA Conference take place at Strathclyde University in Glasgow (10-12 April). As part of the programme of events there, the PSA has organised a talk for Highers/A Level students by Alasdair Allan MSP. 

Alasdair is the Minister for International Development and Europe in the SNP Government at Holyrood. He was previously the Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages (2011-2016) and Minister for Learning and Skills (2011). Since 2007 he has been the MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (previously the Western Isles). 

He also has a PhD in Scots Language and before being elected to the Scottish Parliament had a career in journalism and communications, including for Gaelic publications and the Church of Scotland. 

Alasdair is sure to give an illuminating talk on contemporary Scottish politics and the place of Scotland in the global context. 

This talk will take place at the Technology & Innovation Centre, Strathclyde University, Glasgow on Tuesday 11 April from 11.30 - 12.30. 

Attendees receive a free lunch and free one day access to the PSA conference and are welcome to attend panel discussions that take place that day. Panels later that Tuesday include a Designing Democracy roundtable with ex-Home Secretary Lord Blunkett and Lord Norton of Louth as well as a roundtable on the Impact of the French Presidential Election. 

Please see a poster for the event here. If you and your students are interested in attending please let me know via email

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. 

Cristina Leston-Bandeira (Leeds University) asks What is the point of petitions in British politics?

Lasse Thomassen (QMUL) examines those in Spain who are Battling for the soul of Podemos

Hartwig Pautz (University of the West of Scotland) looks at the situation in Germany in When judges declare a party irrelevant – the German National Democratic Party and the far right in Germany

Finally, Adam Quinn (Birmingham University) explores issues further afield in America in Whatever you believe, the Trump presidency is going to test it

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.