As a department we are driven by opening students’ minds to different ideas, enabling them to think independently and have a life-long passion for learning. We look to empower our students with an understanding of the world around them, preparing them to analyse events as they occur, being politically conscious and literate. Women are often confronted with barriers throughout their lives, especially women of colour, which makes us passionate about educating our young women in being prepared the be leaders in the world. Therefore, the curriculum is rich with academic reading to build students’ knowledge and literacy, engaging directly with debates in Political Science. Confidence too is central to the curriculum, building students up to effectively and powerfully debate in lessons with a pedagogy grounded in dialogue and academic rigour to enable our students to be independent and valuable young professional women. They will also act as role models to younger years whilst developing their confidence and public speaking in supporting and leading on the School Parliament.
|Year 12||Year 12 kicks off with a study of the foundation of the British Political system; Democracy and Participation. Students will study current systems of representative democracy and direct democracy, considering the benefits and weaknesses of each type of democracy and assessing the extent to which representative democracy fulfils its function. Students will use this knowledge as well as Dahl’s democratic criteria to assess the extent to which British democracy is healthy, considering the extent to which suffrage reforms are adequate and different natures of participation such as Pressure Groups and other influences. They will also explore human rights in Britain, movements in which they’ve been challenged and the extent to which they are upheld. This will then be revisited explicitly in Y13 when studying human rights globally.
This year, due to the interest of the cohort, we will underpin our study of democracy through looking at its ideological origin, Liberalism. Students will study the core ideas and principles of liberalism and how they relate to human nature, the state, society and the economy.
They will then consider a critique of liberalism through both Conservatism and Socialism comparing and contrasting perspectives on the nature of the state, human nature, society and the economy.
|Students were introduced to Electoral Systems during their lockdown preparation work to complement their assessment on the health of UK democracy. They will revisit this idea in term 2, learning about the electoral system in greater depth through studying different electoral systems and considering which would be best for resolving Britain’s democratic deficit. They will also revisit direct democracy by considering further case studies and arguments on referendums and how they are used. This will be supported by a consideration of the ways in which elections are influenced, supporting the socialist critique of liberal democracy on elections when studying Voting Behaviour and the Media. This is an opportunity for students to study three case studies of three key general elections and compare the importance of demographics and the influence of the media.
The first topic students learn from paper 2, UK Government, is the Constitution as this is the foundation of UK Government and all following Government topics link back to the support and constraints of the constitution. The students are taught the concepts of authority, power and sovereignty. Throughout the UK Government paper, students are taught to make synoptic links to UK Politics.
Students will be able to apply their knowledge of ideologies and democracy when studying Parliament. This is through a consideration of the extent to which Parliament fulfils its democratic functions through an analysis of the comparative powers and roles of the House of Commons and House of Lords. Their study of the legislative process will enable them to consider how laws are passed and evaluate the extent to which it is a democratic process, reapplying the democratic criteria.
Students will then go on to look at the roles and powers of the PM and Executive. They will evaluate the view that Britain has an ‘elective dictatorship’ by exploring the strengths and weakness to the checks and balances on the executive, recalling democracy, constitution, Parliament and Liberalism. They will explore whether or not the PM dominates the executive through prerogative powers and ministerial responsibility and the different factors which empower PMs considering three case studies.
|In the final unit on UK Government the students will consider the relations between branches. This entire topic allows for recall across the whole course so far. Students will examine the PM, judiciary and devolved bodies. This unit is challenging as students will study how the EU operates. The complexities of the process of leaving the EU is not on the specification. In UK Government students are taught to make synoptic links to UK Politics.
In earlier units students learnt about why there may be a lack of participation in the UK democracy. Here students learn about the role of political parties and the major and minor parties in the UK. It is important that this unit is taught separately from the ideologies units as some weaker students can confuse the ideas of parties with the ideologies of politics, for example conservatism.
Feminism as an ideology is part of the lifeblood of the Convent, being a school which looks to empower young women to ‘excel and lead’. It was therefore a natural option to study. Students will learn this as the last part of Y12 as it is an opportunity to consider the extent to which UK democracy includes women as well as recap on how it connects and contrasts with the three core ideologies studied at the beginning of the year. They will consider core ideas and principles of Feminism and how they relate to human nature, the state, society and the economy.
|Year 13||Due to Covid, Y13 are currently studying socialism and feminism with explicit moments of recall for work covered over lockdown, making explicit links and room for debates on the different ideologies and democracy.
At the Convent, we opted to study Global Politics to give representation to the diversity of our student body. It has proven to be very popular, with many students deciding to pursue international relations at university. The students begin through learning key concepts such as the State and Globalisation. They will evaluate the extent to which the state is still relevant in a globalised world, revisiting ideas of democracy and ideologies from Y12. They will consider whether the rise of globalisation is a myth, and if not, the extent to which state sovereignty is challenged and whether or not it is a positive development
Students will further consider the challenges faced by the nation state through investigating Global Governance: Political and Economic. This will involve a study of different international institutions including; The United Nations, NATO, IMF, WTO and G7/8 G20. They will evaluate the significance of how global economic governance deals with the issue of poverty as well as the ways and extent to which these institutions address and resolve contemporary global issues, such as those involving conflict, poverty, human rights and the environment. They will also study the role and significance of the global civil society and non-state actors, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in addressing and resolving the issues above.
|Students will consider Comparative Theories, understanding the main ideas of realism and liberalism. They will consider whether states live in an anarchical society or a society of states, evaluating the extent to which realism and liberalism explain recent developments (since 2000) in global politics. This is another moment for recall of ideologies being that realism and liberalism are strong connected to conservatism and liberalism.
Students then deploy the theoretical considerations of comparative theories in a consideration of Power and Developments on an international scale. They will explore different types of power and the differing significance of states in global affairs and how and why state power is classified. They will revisit the UK Governance topic by comparing different systems of government in different countries. They will consolidate political and economic global governance when learning the ways and extent to which the changing relationships and actions of states in relation to power and developments address and resolve contemporary global issues, such as those involving conflict, poverty, human rights and the environment.
This is developed socially with looking at Global Governance: Human Rights, linking to the human rights part of component 1 on a global scale when looking at the origins and development of international law and institutions. Students will study the role and significance of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the ways and extent to which these institutions address and resolve contemporary global issues, such as those involving conflict, poverty, human rights and the environment. They will also consider the legitimacy of these institutions and the extent to which they challenge state sovereignty, revisiting ideas from the beginning of Y13. They will also study the role and significance of the global civil society and non-state actors, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in addressing and resolving international issues
Students then revisit knowledge gained from relations between branches and the impact of the EU when learning Regionalism and the EU. They will compare the EU to different forms of regionalism around the world and explore debates about and the reasons for and significance of regionalism. They will study the development of regional organisations, and the factors that have fostered European integration and the major developments through which this has occurred. They will evaluate the ways and extent to which regionalism addresses and resolves contemporary global issues involving conflict, poverty, human rights and the environment, making connections across the entire course.
Students will end the course by embarking on a rigorous revision programme where teachers deploy metacognitive strategies to revisit topics from across the two years complimented with exam practice. We are able to complete the course with an allowance of revision time due to teacher planning not only for class time, but also a detailed homework structure.
The impact of this curriculum will be apparent in students being able to communicate effectively using political vocabulary which they will gain through reading academic texts which model the power of lyrical language. Their strong communication skills will be present in their writing; writing strong argumentative essays supported with up to date evidence and examples as well as in their ability to communicate verbally. The success of the students’ learning will manifest in many opting to study History or Politics at university level. We have high standards as a department and will thus encourage our students to achieve beyond their target grades in the national exams, supporting them with rigorous revision resources.