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PSA Teachers' e-News: February 2015

FAO:  , 2nd February

Dear ,

This year is shaping up to be a very exciting one politically. The looming UK General Election should be a catalyst to sparking young people's interest and enthusiasm in politics, especially to those who are already studying and exploring the subject. 

The PSA is planning a full General Election programme and much of the materials and events to come out of this will be of great use for your own teaching. Alongside this, we will be highlighting the work already being done by our own academic members across the country - such as the team at Leeds University who are running free online courses for school/ college students (see below).

In addition to the excitement of the election, the Association remains vigilant around the critical issue of A-level reform. There is more information about what we have been doing in this area below.

I hope 2015 has started well and continues to be successful for you and your students.

Government and Politics A-level Reform

The issue of reforming the Government and Politics A-level remains high on the PSA's schools' agenda.  Thank you to those who have sent supporting comments about the panel on this subject at the PSA Heads of Department Conference last year with DfE's Chief Analyst (video online here).

In addition to this, the PSA have recently held two events involving the main awarding bodies in Northern Ireland (23/01) and England (30/01).

Last Friday afternoon the PSA convened a meeting of Government and Politics A-level teachers and representatives from all the main awarding bodies to discuss A-level reform.  A report of this meeting will be uploaded to the PSA website very soon.

FREE student workshops on applying to study Politics at university

The PSA are will once again be 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, taking place right around the UK, will cover areas such as: selecting the right course and institution, the application process, and what to expect when you get to university.  Lunch will also be provided for students and their teacher(s). 

Details about the workshop will be released as soon as possible and PSA member schools will receive priority registration.

PSA’s Parliament Week initiative cited as evidence in Digital Democracy Report

The Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy (DDC) published its report ‘Open Up’ last week. The report recommends how Parliament can use digital technology to help it to be more transparent, inclusive, and better able to engage the public with democracy.

We are pleased to report that the PSA’s Parliaments and Legislatures Specialist Group’s Parliament Week event, “Hardcopy or #Hashtag” and accompanying booklet are specifically referred to as evidence in a couple of sections of the document. The specific sections are 6. Reaching out to under-represented groups and 11. A fully digital parliament.

Since the launch of the report on Monday 26th January in Westminster, the overall proposals have been well received by the media and those researching in this area. Our huge congratulations to the PSA’s Parliaments and Legislatures Specialist Group Co-convenor, Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira who sat as a Commissioner. You can read Cristina’s reflections on the PSA Blog here and you can view a Storify of the online reaction to the report by clicking on this link.

Exclusive to PSA teacher members: Speakers Programme for Schools

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 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. 

To take advantage of this programme at your school, please drop me an e-mail with a topic of your choice.

New on the PSA's YouTube Channel: Meet The Chair

Professor Matthew Flinders, Chair of the PSA, popped into our head office in London recently to shoot a video for the PSA's YouTube Channel where he introduces himself to the wider PSA community and discusses his hopes, goals and ambitions for the Association during his tenure as Chair.

Professor Flinders hopes to brief our members via video on a more regular basis so keep an eye on our YouTube Channel for further updates. You can also catch up with PSA events that you have been unavailable to attend on YouTube.

General Election 2015 course for Politics students and teachers

The University of Leeds have announced a free online course on the upcoming General Election aimed at Government and Politics students and teachers.

This course, which will begin on the 9th of March, will be delivered by a range of renowned politics experts. It will deepen your understanding of the election, as well as acting as an engaging revision tool.

This online course, involving short learning activities spread over a 3 week period, will help you to review the key elements of post-16 syllabus on British democracy, before applying this learning to the 2015 election. 

For more information on the course, please click here. A video trailer for the course can be viewed below:

(Election 2015 for AS Level Politics trailer from Digital Learning Team on Vimeo).

Gorwel Political Blog Competition 2015

Can your students turn bad policy into good policy?

Can they come up with a new or different policy/ideas blog that will help them/ their community/their country or all three?

Then please encourage them to write between 350-550 words on a short blog telling us their ideas. There is a trophy prize and £100 of book tokens up for grabs for the winning blog. All competitions details can be found online here.

Entries will also be published online and circulated to key decision makers. There are also prizes for the runners-ups. Winning entries will also be published on the News Academy website.  Deadline for submissions is 28 March 2015. Winners will be notified directly by email.

This competition is supported by the Political Studies Association and the National Lottery and sponsored by News Academy.

*Open to college and school students aged 16–19. Those currently not in education can also enter. Those under the age of 16 may enter with the prior permission of competition organisers by emailing: blog2015@gorwel.co Blogs can be written in either English or Welsh.

Keeping in touch...

Follow the PSA on Twitter or search for the #PSAschools hashtag for real time updates for all our schools' activities and news.  Don't forget, if you missed a previous monthly Teachers' e-Newsletter 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.