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May 9th 2018

Spotlight on Politics

From studying voting behaviour to the constitution and current controversies in the political world, Mr I Gerrard (Head of History and Humanities Faculty) talks to us about Politics.

How long have you been teaching at Blackheath High School?
I have worked at Blackheath High School since September 2012. Previous to this, I taught Politics for more than 10 years at my last school where I worked for over 20 years in total. I re-introduced Government and Politics at Blackheath High School in 2014 and it has been taught here at A-Level ever since.

Can you tell me about your background?
I did a degree in History at the University of Wales, Bangor (more years ago than I care to admit to!) before doing a PGCE at the University of East Anglia. I’m originally from Northwich in Cheshire where most of my family still live – I’ve lived in south east London since 1990. 

What is covered in Politics? 
We study a range of topics in Year 12. We look at UK Politics and study elections and voting behaviour, the constitution, political parties, the powers of Parliament and the Prime Minister, as well as look at specific events and current controversies in the political world. We also look at specific political ideologies which is a new feature of the linear A-Level; we will study the compulsory ideologies of socialism, liberalism and conservatism as well as study feminism from the optional list. In Year 13, we will look at US Politics such as presidential elections, the power of political parties, interest groups and Congress as well as examine the crucial (and controversial) role that the US Constitution has in protecting rights and preventing ‘over-mighty government’ as some people might see it.

Would you say that Politics is a popular choice of subject?
Yes I would, but then you’d expect me to say that! The students who study Politics here get drawn into the subject and in fact, the very first of our now vibrant and successful Sixth Form Societies was the Politics Society. Students set this up entirely off their own back and invited in speakers from all the main political parties for the 2015 General Election – I think the UKIP candidate in particular was taken aback by the very detailed knowledge that our girls had of the UKIP manifesto. The candidates of all the parties were given a thorough policy examination! Since then, the Politics Society has always recruited students who have been enthusiastic about running it and to engage other younger students with their love of and passion for the subject.

What are the benefits of studying this subject?
It is a subject that always changes; as soon as the text books are written, they are out of date so studying Politics should always mean that you are up-to-date with the news! Politics develops skills such as research, constructing arguments, handling data and debating; these are incredibly useful soft skills that can be applied to a range of other subjects but also to future careers such as Law, the Civil Service, Human Resources, Management and Business. It is also the ideal complement to a whole range of other subjects such as History, Religious Studies, English, Psychology and Classics, or to act as a counter-balance to STEM subjects to provide breadth to Sixth Form subject choices.

What are the benefits of studying Politics at Blackheath High School? 
Our staff are enthusiastic, passionate, experienced and knowledgeable. Two of our teachers have stood for election this month and another has an MA in Contemporary History and Politics. Our smaller class sizes mean that students have the chance to explore their interests and ideas in depth in a class that shares their passion. The fact that Politics has always had a very low or zero drop-out rate shows that our students love the subject and are really committed to it both inside the classroom and beyond.

Is there a particular aspect of the course that students tend to enjoy?
There is such a broad range of topics that there really is something for everyone!


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