My name is Nick de Souza and I’m Head of Politics at Reigate College. I’m looking forward to welcoming you in person to our department at the beginning of the academic year when we’ll make a start on the A Level curriculum. In preparation for this, I’d like you to complete a series of tasks and activities over the coming months.
Politics will be a new course for many of you so these activities have been designed to introduce you to some of the key themes and ideas you’ll be learning about. Each task should be completed independently at home, but you’ll have the chance to discuss what you’ve learnt in September, after you formally enrol onto the course.
All of the tasks should be completed by Choices Day on 25 August. Please throw yourself into them and enjoy finding out more about the fascinating world of politics!
The tasks will be released here in three phases:
Explore your Subject – 4 May
Exploring Politics and Power
Just how powerful is Prime Minister Boris Johnson? His party won the General Election in 2019, giving him a huge mandate to “Get Brexit done”, as he had promised. Only a few weeks later, and the country was in lockdown over Covid-19. The prime minister and his government have come in for criticism for how it has handled the outbreak but only time will tell as to whether this criticism is justified.
What happens next is the interesting bit. Will Boris Johnson come out of this crisis as more popular and more powerful? Will he be able to fulfil the commitments he made during the election campaign? Just how long will he last?
We consider these questions, and lots more besides, in our weekly podcast, The A Level Politics Show. Click on this link to stream it or search for it in your podcast app.
TASK 1 Choose an episode that interests you and write down ten bullet points of information that details what you found out when listening to it.
Keeping up to date with the News
In preparation for the A Level course, it’s important to get used to staying up to date with all the latest developments in Politics. The best way to do this is by reading newspapers and political websites.
For general political news, you should regularly look at the following:
Broadsheet newspapers: Times, Independent, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, etc.
The best Politics website with updated detail and video clips of the important news stories of the day is:
TASK 2 Over the next month, please make it part of your daily routine to read the news from at least one of the above sources.
You should aim to complete this section of tasks by June 1.
Get Going – 1 June
Recording the News
As you know, to be a successful Politics student, you
need to keep up to date with what’s going on in the news, and we hope that over
the past month, you’ve been regularly spending time reading newspapers and
visiting news websites.
1 For your next task, we’d like you
to explore the news further by keeping your own ‘Politics Diary’ for five days:
Using a notebook or A4 piece of paper, recreate the chart (below)
On each of the five days, summarise TWO news stories you come across
You must also write down the news outlet you received your information from (links to the online newspaper websites are listed below the chart)
Each news story must focus on what the UK Government is doing, or how it has been criticised. To help you, make sure the news stories you choose contain one or more of the following words:
Conservative / Tory
Kier Starmer (Labour leader)
Try to vary the news stories each day, or at least look for a different angle – don’t just repeat thesame headlines each time
The role of political debate
Many of the news stories you wrote down will have
included an element of criticism or debate, and the ability to hold political
leaders to account is a really important aspect of UK democracy.
We’d like you to explore the role of political debate
further by watching some debates from
the UK’s political institutions, both live and recorded (Prime Minister’s
Question Time (PMQs) is particularly recommended). Check out:
You can also gain a lot of knowledge and appreciation
for what goes on in Politics by watching some of the following programmes on
Politics (BBC 1, Sundays 12.00 noon)
4 News (Channel 4, Daily 7.00pm)
(BBC 2, Daily 10:30pm)
Time ( BBC 1, Thursday 10:35pm)
2 As well as continuing to read
newspapers, please build watching some political debates and TV Politics shows
into your routine. Make a note of any debates you find particularly
should complete this section of tasks by 1 July.
Aim High – 1 July
Profiling the Prime Minister
Hopefully you’ll have watched some interesting
Political debates over the past month. Whatever topics were being discussed, it
will have been abundantly clear that everyone has their own opinion! Explaining
what you think (and why you think it) about a particular issue is a really
important skill in A Level Politics.
1 To help develop your skill in this
area, we’d like you to write a one-page profile on Boris Johnson. Outline the
key events in his career, how he became prime minister and what others have
said about him. Towards the end of this profile, include what you think about him and why. You can use
the article below as background, but feel free to conduct a general Google
search about him.
Over the past weeks, you’ve investigated some of the major political issues facing the country. As well as keeping up to date with the news, in order to prepare yourself for the A Level course, you should also make yourself aware of the workings of the political institutions that govern the UK.
TASK 2 To find out about the core institutions you need to know about in A Level Politics, please spend time familiarising yourself with the following quick guides: