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PSA Teachers' e-News: April 2015

FAO: , 13th April.

Dear ,

I hope you and your students enjoyed a good break over Easter!

The PSA's Annual Conference took place during the Easter holidays from Monday 30th March - Wednesday 1st April. We have made available a number of online conference resources which will be useful for your teaching:

  • Videos (including full plenary sessions, John Bercow's after-dinner speech and our 'Election Talk' interview series)
  • Podcasts (including short soundbites and interviews with expert PSA academics)

In addition to these resources, please see below for a whole suite of online resources from our General Election Media Briefings, General Election 2015 Online Resources page and Mock Election Resources which we encourage you to browse and use.

FREE student workshops on applying to study Politics at university

For the fourth consecutive year, we are running a series of free one-day workshops in late June and early July for students who are thinking of studying politics as a single or joint honours degree.

The workshops will cover areas such as: selecting the right course and institution, the application process, and what to expect when you get to university.  New for 2015 - all workshops will include a session called "Working in Politics" delivered 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. This year’s dates are as follows: 

University of Stirling - Tuesday 16th June
University of Manchester - Wednesday 24th June
Warwick University - Thursday 25th June
University College London - Monday 29th June
University of Bristol - Wednesday 1st July

Students who have attended these workshops in the past have always found them to be extremely useful. In particular, the session on the application process, which is led by a politics admissions tutor, outlines the process in much more detail than time permits during an Open Day. Lunch will also be provided for students and their teacher(s).

Registration Is Now Open

Registration for this year's workshops is now open via the PSA's Eventbrite page:


Please note: there are limited places at all workshops and places are available on a first come first served basis. Students are welcome to attend on their own by registering individually.

Classroom Resources: Running a Mock Election

The PSA have designed a FREE online resource offering schools and colleges tools and advice for running a mock election to coincide with the UK General Election on May 7th, 2015.

Students will find it useful to read the three articles below from the PSA's Political Insight magazine as part of classroom discussions around the electoral process and party positions in the context of a mock election in your school or college:

  1. Tim Heppell - Lessons Learned from the Coalition (issue 5.3)
  2. Simon Lee - How Has the UK's Coalition Government Performed (6.1)
  3. George Szpiro - The Politics of Numbers: Is Majority Rule Always Fair? (1.3)

Click here to access the PSA's Mock Election Resources page.

Classroom Resources: The State of the Major Parties

The Political Studies Association held its first General Election Media Briefing on 24th of March at the Institute for Government. Three academic experts discussed 'The State of the Major Parties' in the run-up to the election on May 7th. You can watch the briefing back on the BBC's iPlayer here until Saturday, 25 April 2015.

Additionally, we have now made available a number of resources (including podcasts and videos) to download from this briefing:

The Conservative Party - Professor Jane Green (University of Manchester)
Video - Podcast - Slides

The Labour Party - Professor Tim Bale (Queen Mary, University of London)
Video - Podcast

The Liberal Democrats - Dr David Cutts (University of Bath)
Video - Podcast - Slides

We hope that you find these useful for your teaching.

Our next media briefings are taking place this week:
14 April 2015The local elections and rise of the small and regional parties
16 April 2015The latest forecast and likely coalition permutations

Further resources will be produced from these briefings, which will complement the PSA's General Election Resources, and can be found online in the schools' section of the PSA website here.

Try Verto - a voter matching tool for young people supported by the PSA - in your classroom!

Leading youth democracy movement Bite The Ballot (BTB) and cross-party think-tank Demos with support from the Political Studies Association are proud to present Verto – a voter matching tool for young people.

Verto is designed to help the UK’s 5.6 million potential young voters match their views and values against those of the political parties, their neighbours and the nation. Keeping the target demographic of 16-24 year-olds in mind at all times, Verto has been built to be simple, accessible, fast and intuitive.

It presents policy statements, developed by the PSA's Young People's Politics Specialist Group, which users simply swipe to the right or left if they agree or disagree, and creates clear profiles of party matches that changes in real time with users’ decisions.

Verto can be accessed in any browser on desktop, mobile or tablet - simply by going to www.verto.vote  This would be a great exercise to try in the classroom!

BTB expects over a million users to play Verto in the next six weeks. By sparking such engagement, and by laying a basic political education, Verto aims to inspire the nation’s youngest citizens to turnout at record levels in the coming General Election.

For further information about the PSA's involvement, read Emily Rainsford and Nick Randall's entry in the PSA Blog on the need for a tool like Verto.

PSA 2015 Student Short Video Competition

Our annual competition is back! For the fourth consecutive year, we are inviting groups of A-Level and 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.

Good news for Government and Politics A-Level!

There has been very positive developments recently from Ofqual who last month published the outcomes of their "Completing GCSE, AS and A Level Reform" consultation results for subjects in the 'third wave' of reform.

Government and Politics A-level is included in Ofqual's list of proposed subjects for reform in 2017 in which they consider content requirements could be developed to meet their reform principles. (Part II, Page 5)

The subject is a valued and important element of sixth form study and the Association will continue to play an important role to help facilitate dialogue with the main awarding bodies around new course content. Further updates will be outlined on our website.

Citizenship Foundation and MySociety Civic Tools

A major election looms and hand-wringing about political apathy is as great as ever. So, the Citizenship Foundation has teamed up with mySociety, the people behind civic tools such as fixmystreet.com, to offer quick activities that teach young people about democracy by actually taking part in the process. Help them explore pertinent issues, why they exist, how they affect people differently and how to change things for the better.

New free lesson ideas to help young people learn about democracy by doing it are available online here.

Teachers’ Institute 29 June - 3 July 2015

Immerse yourself in the politics of Parliament with this unique professional development opportunity. Teachers of Government & Politics, Citizenship and related subjects, and other education professionals, can apply to experience an intensive, informative and unforgettable course based at the Houses of Parliament.

The programme covers travel costs (for UK delegates), residential accommodation and most meals. All resources, workshops and events are free of charge.

For full details and how to apply - please visit the HoP Education Service website here.


Pressure Groups, Anti-Politics and Representation Conference

On Tuesday 13th October 2015 we are organising a conference for sixth form/ college students on the theme of pressure groups, anti-politics and representation. The event is being held at Amnesty International HQ in North London.

We hope to have leading individuals from key groups to present and run break-out sessions with students, alongside our own academic members who specialise in this area.

A detailed programme of the event will be released soon. Please "Save the Date" for now.

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 the PSA’s 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.