Teaching resources & approaches

A plug for BBC's Newsnight

Mike McCartney

25th May 2021

Intelligent programming for developing syllabus knowledge and beyond

Just a quick one as a timely reminder that students of A Level Politics are expected to seek to develop their subject knowledge by engaging with the right kinds of media. This, of course, means accessing a 'decent' daily newspaper like the Times, Telegraph, or Guardian, whenever time permits. On top of this, relevant periodicals like the Economist, New Statesman and the Spectator can be added to the mix. Beyond this, on what I call the hierarchy of expectations for a Politics student, reading material might encompass very specialist publications or blogs. (Which may well be the subject of a future blog post.)

But on a similar level good reading habits that include the aforementioned daily and weekly publications, in terms of watching habits, Channel 4 news and Newsnight should also be part of a healthy diet for Politics students.

Last night's Newsnight broadcast illustrated in Technicolor why the programme has so many positive virtues.

Bit of a caveat here, before I go on. I do understand the programme is on relatively late, and in terms of wellbeing industrious Sixth Formers need their shut-eye. But the programme is available on iPlayer. 50% of the time I watch it live, the rest of the time I catch up in the morning, say, before Form time when pottering around my classroom.

As I've just alluded to, last night's programme was top notch. It began with an update on events in Belarus. Textbook theory says that dictatorship is the most efficient form of government. But, it doesn't make it right. And the analysis of the latest goings on in a country that provides a fascinating example of a system of politics that is beyond the narrow confines of the A Level syllabus was essential viewing.

Then there was an analysis of the Black Lives Matter group, and it included an interview with Labour's Diane Abbott that has gained enormous traction on Twitter. Interestingly, not so widely covered by mainstream media outlets since the the broadcast went out. As an aside, the difference between what captures the attention of the Twitterati and what is widely covered by more traditional media outlets would make an interesting EPQ?

Then the programme closed by looking at the debate over Keir Starmer's competence as Labour leader. The future of the Labour Party was covered in a recent tutor2u Politics Blog post https://www.tutor2u.net/politi... and this adds to the debate.

So, the point is, is that if you either want to increase your chances of success at A Level in the subject, or you want to intelligent analysis and debate that challenges what you think, then Newsnight is politics gold.

The episode in question is here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/...

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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