This subject, which is studied in the Sixth Form, is the study of the mechanism of government, and how we as individuals influence and affect the political process.

The stuff of politics is current affairs – our text books are out of date as they roll off the printing presses, and it is our job to bring them up to date with a careful study of events as they unfold – political crises, general elections, coalition building, ministerial resignations, and international summitry. We want to know the nature of power, where it is located, and who is exercising it. We want to know why they are not any better at exercising it than they are. We study the various institutions exercising power – the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Parliament, the law courts, the institutions of the European Union. We study the way ordinary individuals make a contribution, and what their motivation and effectiveness is – we examine the parties they join, pressure groups they form and the voting behaviour they show in elections. We ask – how democratic are our systems? – What influence do ordinary people have? What needs to be done to improve our democracy and the British Political system?

Along the way pupils are encouraged to bring their views and observations to class, and we reserve time for a reasoned contest of ideas. Sixth Formers are motivated to become politically engaged – to join groups and parties and to begin taking their part in shaping the future.

In the Upper Sixth year we also undertake a study of American political institutions and processes, and a comparison of these with their equivalents in Britain. We are interested in Politics as it is practised everywhere, however, along with trends and developments worldwide, in ideas and institutional change.

The Department regularly runs trips to New York City to attend conferences at the United Nations. Our pupils have been taken to Washington to study the political institutions and meet people connected with the political world there. We have even appeared on Any Questions, and naturally, take visits to Parliament. Over the years we have engaged with politicians at first hand: local MPs, the Leader of the Opposition, Cabinet ministers, presidential candidates, and at least one Congressman and one ex-prime minister have all visited the School.

The Exam board followed is OCR Government and Politics

Head of Department: Jonathan Thomson

STAFF

Jonathan Thomson BA, Grey College, Durham, Head of Department
Huw Thomas LLB, University of Birmingham; MEd Wolfson College, Cambridge

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