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PSA Teachers' e-News: July 2015

FAO:  , 6th July.

Dear ,

I hope it has been a successful exam period for all your students.

The main item of this month's Teachers' e-News is the launch of our new PSA Teacher Forum Discussions. We hope that this development to our website will allow all members the ability to feed into the debate around the new A-level Government and Politics curriculum, as well as sharing best practice, online resources and other useful items for your teaching. All the information is outlined below in more detail.

Additionally, a limited number of FREE places are available for PSA Teacher Members and/or members' students who wish to attend the PSA’s Elections, Public Opinion and Parties (EPOP) Specialist Group two day conference on the General Election at the Emmanuel Centre, Westminster 13-14th July. The conference is being organised in conjunction with Ipsos MORI and Loughborough University Communication Research Centre. Again, full details outlined below.

On behalf of everyone here at the PSA, may we wish you all a very relaxing and enjoyable summer break when it comes! Thank you for your continued support during this very busy academic year.

UPDATE: A-level Government and Politics curriculum

The PSA continues to be heavily involved in trying to shape the A-level Government and Politics curriculum being developed by the exam boards.

The Department for Education charged the awarding bodies to review and update the subject criteria to meet stakeholder needs prior to the development of specifications. The subject criteria sets out the essential knowledge, understanding and skills common to all specifications in a given subject and at a given level. They provide the framework within which an awarding body creates more detailed specifications.

Alongside all three major awarding organisations and a small number of other stakeholders, the PSA's Chair of Education and Skills, Dr Rose Gann, has been working to produce a first draft of the new criteria for the subject. This is currently still under negotiation between the stakeholder group, Ofqual and the DfE but should be finalised by mid-July. As soon as it is permitted, the criteria will be released for wider consultation, at which point input and comment from PSA teacher members and your colleagues will be invaluable.

To help with this process, the PSA has launched a new forum discussion area on our website for all PSA Teacher Members (full details below).

NEW: PSA Teacher Forum Discussions

Work has recently been undertaken by our web developers to create an online discussion forum for teacher members and academics alike to participate in a discussion about the shape the new A-level curriculum should take and the reforms the PSA should promote to the exam boards.

Additionally, we hope that the forum functionality will be a useful tool in sharing ideas and generating discussion amongst our ever growing teacher network.

You can access and add to the current forum discussions online here. Or simply click on the "PSA Communities" drop down tab, click "Schools", and then click the "Forum" button at the bottom of the right-hand side toolbar.

We took the decision not to send e-mail notifications when an initial topic or response is posted as we felt this would generate lots of potentially unwanted e-mails. So please do check back to this area of the website to keen informed of forum discussions. Please also note that individuals must be logged into the PSA website to respond to forum posts.

PSA School Workshops on Applying to Study Politics at University

For the fourth consecutive year, we successfully ran a series of free one-day workshops for students thinking of studying politics as a single or joint honours degree.  Around 300 students attended across the 5 regionally based workshops.

The workshops covered areas such as: selecting the right course and institution, the application process, and what to expect when you get to university. 

As a new initiative for 2015 each workshop included a session by a practitioner to talk to prospective politics students about their experiences of working in political roles and how a degree in politics could relate to this.

Practitioners included the Provost of Stirling, Cllr Mike Robbins; BBC’s North West political editor, Arif Ansari; DEMOS’s Head of Citizenship and Political Participation, Jonathan Birdwell; Director of Mock Recruit, Ayath Ullah; and former MP for Bristol South and Treasury Minister, Rt Hon Dame Dawn Primarolo.  

Thank you to those members whose students supported this year's series of workshops. We're always keen to learn how we can improve them, so please send any suggestions or comments to james.ludley@psa.ac.uk 

"What to expect when studying Politics at university"

Harvey Chandler (President, Politics Society) and Rachael Farrington (Founder of Voting Counts), both 1st year students of Politics at Brunel University, spoke to A-level students about what to expect at university at our workshop on 'Applying to Study Politics at University' at University College London on 29th of June 2015.

Watch Harvey and Rachael's presentation online here.

Additional video footage of the UCL workshop is currently being edited and will be uploaded to the PSA YouTube channel very soon!

Parties Media Voters: the 2015 Campaign - a two day conference FREE for PSA Teacher Members

The PSA’s Elections, Public Opinion and Parties (EPOP) Specialist Group are holding a two day conference on the General Election at the Emmanuel Centre, Westminster 13-14th July. The conference is being organised in conjunction with Ipsos MORI and Loughborough University Communication Research Centre.

The conference organisers are offering a limited number of FREE places to PSA Teacher Members and members' students who may wish to attend the conference.

To take advantage of this offer, please register directly with Dominic Wring: D.J.Wring@lboro.ac.uk

The conference will bring together representatives from the political party, media and polling organisations in order to share their reflections and experiences following each subsequent campaign. This event will feature contributions from leading practitioners on all aspects of the election. A full list of confirmed participants is available here

Day One:  Parties and Media. Sessions will explore and discuss the campaign strategies and tactics as well as news coverage.

Day Two:  Voters. Sessions will explore public awareness and understandings of the issues and personalities as well as the challenge of communicating with the electorate in an increasingly digital era.

Further conference details can be found online here.

PSA Speakers Programme for Schools

We have been working hard to fulfil lots of requests for PSA Speakers Programme for Schools visits ahead of the new academic year.

This is a programme were academics from across the politics discipline are available to visit your school free of charge to give lectures to your students on any subject of your choice related to the A-level or Scottish Higher Curriculum. As well as finding the academic best suited to the subject of your lecture, the PSA will pay all travel costs, even where these exceed the costs of teacher membership.

If you want to take advantage of this, please get in touch as soon as possible.

Where this is particularly challenging or time sensitive we have managed to secure leading academics to virtually deliver discussions and seminars.

Watch Dr Louise Thompson (University of Surrey and PSA Blog Manager) discuss "Continuity and Change: The 2015 General Election" to students at Hill House School via YouTube here.

“Designing for Democracy – what would you propose?”

Our annual competition is back! For the fourth consecutive year, we are inviting groups of A-Level and Scottish Higher Education students to submit short videos on a topical subject. This year’s competition asks students to explore the question:

Designing for Democracy – what would you propose?” 

The aim of this competition, kindly sponsored by both the Design Commission and YouGov, is to get students exploring the advantages and disadvantages of different types of democratic systems, whilst creating their own proposal.

As in previous years, the winning group receive their award at the PSA’s Annual Awards Dinner in London in December which is broadcast on BBC Parliament.  Accommodation is provided for them, along with their teacher in a central London hotel.  On top of this, the winning students will each be invited to spend a week voluntarily shadowing the YouGov political team during their school holidays! 

Check out our competition poster outlining all the details about this year’s competition and for how to enter. For video ideas please view our 2014 competition page online here.

UCAS Admissions Analysis

The Association has recently secured the latest bespoke dataset from UCAS surrounding applications and acceptances to Politics and to International Relations degrees. 

We are beginning to conduct further analysis of UCAS’ data, which so far reveals another upward turn in the level of applications and acceptances. We hope to publish the results of this analysis towards the end of the summer.

Parliament Week 2015

We will be spending time this summer beginning to formulate our final plans for Parliament Week 2015 - which we’re really excited by!

We’re lucky to once again be supported by the Convenors of the PSA's Parliaments and Legislatures Specialist Group, Prof. Cristina Leston-Bandeira (University of Hull) and Dr Louise Thompson (University of Surrey), who were behind our 2014 ‘Hardcopy or #Hashtag?’ initiative. Watch this space!

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

Follow the PSA on Twitter or search for the #PSAschools hashtag for real time updates for 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 including our Annual Parliament Week event
•         Priority registration for student career workshops

Keeping In Touch...

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

I’m always keen to hear from you, so please keep in touch or let me 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,

James Ludley
Programme Development Officer

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