Government & Politics
This will be a totally new subject for those who choose it. Students should consider opting for Government and Politics if they have an interest in current affairs and wish to study a subject that affects their everyday life. Politics can be a useful choice for a wide range of careers and degrees, because students get to learn and use a variety of transferable skills and to evaluate different political ideas and systems. Written communication skills will develop greatly, as will students’ ability to question information given to them. These skills are in great demand, and are recognised by employers, universities and colleges as being of great value.Students opting for the full two-year course will study four units. Two of these will be examined at the end of Year 12, and the remainder at the end of Year 13. We follow the Edexcel specification.
Visits to the Houses of Parliament
Students following the course have the opportunity to visit the Houses of Parliament. They can walk the corridors of power and take in the grandeur of the ‘mother of parliaments’ seeing for themselves where the laws of the land are made. These visits bring the text books to life. On one occasion the students ‘grilled’ local MP Mark Reckless, about local and national issues. The students’ questions certainly ‘put him on the spot’ and demonstrated to the students the factors that have to be considered by MPs. Workshops have also provided another opportunity to take the subject ‘out of the class room’; here students had to consider the implications of a range of government policies on different sections of the community..
Local MP, Tracey Crouch has visited the school. She described her experiences and took a range of questions from the students; there was a spirited debate on the advantages and disadvantages of tuition fees and other current affairs, where the girls demonstrated their political awareness and their grasp of the country’s economic problems. It was a very valuable exercise in political education and an insight into coalition politics. In the A2 course students study American politics. In the run up to the presidential election, a teacher from the American school in London gave the students an American’s view of the candidates and the process of the U.S electoral system. Through the questions and answers the visit certainly shone a light on a very different political system and made the campaign and result real for students.
Government and Politics is for those students who are interested in the world around them and want to be better prepared to play a part in the decision making in the country. Current affairs are the focus of the subject; students will have an eye on the present and will be considering the future.
Subject Leader: Miss L Trussell (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Exam Board: Edexcel
Unit 1 People and Politics
This unit introduces students to the study of politics by examining the ideas of citizenship, democracy and participation. The implications of developments such as devolution and EU membership will be considered. The nature, ideas and policies of the main political parties and the key features and criticisms of the various UK electoral systems will be studied. Students will also examine the nature, role and tactics of UK pressure groups and assess their importance. The strengths and weaknesses of the UK system will be identified and students will consider potential reforms of British democracy which could extend participation and strengthen accountability.
Unit 2 Governing the UK
Students will start this unit by examining the sources, nature and key features of the British constitution. They go on to study the major institutions of UK government, such as the Prime Minister, Cabinet and Parliament. Students examine the relationship of these institutions with one another and assess their effectiveness. The question as to where ultimate authority lies within the British system will be debated. We will study the constitutional reforms, such as devolution and reform of the House of Lords, which have been introduced since 1997, as well as the ongoing debate about further reform. Students will examine citizen’s rights enshrined in the Human Rights Act, and the nature and effectiveness of the judiciary’s role in protecting them.
Students should understand that the specification demands that they keep abreast of political developments as they unfold via television, radio and the quality press. The subject will be taught in a non-partisan way and students will also be expected to develop an objective approach towards all issues. Each of these units is assessed by one examination.
Having examined the way in which the UK system works in the AS course, students now compare it with that of the USA:
Unit 3 Representative Processes in the USA
This unit examines the role of political parties in the United States, their structure and policies. While concentrating on the Democratic and Republican parties, we will also consider third parties and why they have failed to make much progress. American pressure groups, their impact, influence and strategies are also examined, with specific examples. Students will also study the US electoral system, particularly the presidential election campaign of 2008 and the simultaneous elections for the Senate and House of Representatives. Finally, the importance of ethnic diversity and race in the USA and the effects of this on the political system will be considered.
Unit 4 Governing the USA
We start this unit by examining the Constitution of the United States and the concepts which lie behind it, e.g. federalism, the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances. The Constitution guarantees citizens’ rights, and students will consider the effectiveness of this in practice. In this unit, we examine the governmental institutions of the USA: the presidency, the Congress and the judicial system, particularly the Supreme Court, and the relationship between them. Why are presidents said to be weak at home with only the power to persuade? How strong is the Congress? Are the Supreme Court justices in effect unelected politicians?
As with AS Level, students will be expected to keep abreast of developments via the quality press and television, and the internet.
Each of these units is assessed by one examination.