One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors – Plato
The essential purpose of politics is to teach political literacy. This is essential to prepare young people for their participation in their world beyond the classroom. For example, the first ‘fundamental British value’ is ‘democracy’. However this is a word oft-used either without qualification or explanation. Although centres often encompass aspects of Politics within the curriculum more broadly (e.g as part of their SMSC/PSHE provision) or elsewhere within subjects such as Life Skills, there are inherent aspects of this which can make for unsatisfactory implementation; inconsistency of approach, content without context, and delivery by non-subject specialists. Offering Citizenship as a discreet GCSE subject allows students to truly specialise in the political and legal framework by which we are governed, to gain essential awareness of the world around them alongside the knowledge of how to influence it for the better. Whether it be issues of social justice, environmentalism or disagreements about the merits of various high profile personalities within current affairs, this has never been a more interesting and important time to be aware of politics. Furthermore students at centres like ours which offer Politics as a discreet KS5 subject are therefore at an advantage not only in being able to access the subject itself but to take advantages of any extra-curricular activities which may flow from having subject specialists on staff.
It is interesting to note that one of the oft-made criticisms of those in Politics, particularly those around the Cabinet table, is that their educational background is disproportionately privileged and therefore unrepresentative of the population at large. However, one reason rarely noted is the fact that subjects such as politics and economics, essential if one wants to ‘run the country’ for a career, are increasingly scarce in the state sector with too many 6th forms opting instead for subjects such as Media Studies or Sociology. It is therefore to our students’ great advantage that they are given the opportunity to study Citizenship GCSE and Politics (and Economics) A Level, of which form two thirds of the most prestigious humanities qualification at Oxbridge and Russell Group universities; PPE.
Though the department offers both qualifications, it is by no means essential that applicants for A Level Politics have studied GCSE Citizenship, although they provide a natural subject progression for those who wish to do so.
The department’s three main aims are:
- That the curriculum content should provide students with as broader knowledge base as possible, encompassing political philosophy and the ability to contextualise current affairs within a rigorous framework of academic political science
- To ensure that in so doing, the student develops wider professional & transferable skills of written analysis, verbal dexterity and awareness; enabling them to become not only a fully functioning member of society but an asset to it.
- To provide a basis for a whole-school approach to deepening political literacy