Head of Department

Miss S.L. WebbMA, PGCE


Politics is an ever-changing subject that not only involves understanding how important decisions are made, but also the basis for the different views and ideologies that motivate decision-makers. Pupils studying Politics at Cranleigh are interested in understanding what is going on in the world; they are generally keen readers of newspapers and magazines, followers of global events online and on TV, and are keen to question not only why certain events are happening, but also what the future holds for various individuals, governments and institutions.

Upper School (AS and A Level)

Our course follows the Edexcel specification. Whilst politics A Level only reformed in 2017, from September 2016 we began teaching the entire course over two years, with pupils taking all four papers at the end of their UVIth year. As such, pupils study British politics and Political Ideologies concurrently.

Units 1 and 2 of the politics course involve the study of British politics. The Unit 1 course begins with considering the concept of democracy, and to what extent the British political system is compatible with democratic ideals. We also consider the future of democracy in the UK, by looking at the arguments for reforms such as lowering the voting age or introducing online voting. To tie in with study of democracy, pupils then learn about the different election systems used in Britain, and also the role of pressure groups in UK politics.

For Unit 2, the focus shifts to the institutions of British politics. Pupils consider the British constitution, and the principles that underpin it, before looking in more detail at how the judicial, executive and legislative branches operate. This includes studying how civil liberties are protected in the UK, how much power different British Prime Ministers have had, and whether parliament really does have sovereign power.

Units 3 and 4 of the course involve the study of Political ideologies. Unit 3 includes the more traditional ideologies of Socialism, Liberalism, Conservatism and Anarchism. Pupils study the principles of these ideologies, and the divisions that exist within them, thus enabling them to answer questions such as ‘Is Socialism defined by its desire for equality?’, ‘Is liberal democracy a contradiction in terms?’, ‘To what extent does conservatism favour pragmatism over principle?’, and ‘Is anarchism an unrealistic fantasy?’

Unit 4 then considers other ideological traditions, including Nationalism, Feminism, Ecologism and Multiculturalism. Like with the Unit 3 ideologies, pupils initially work on understanding the principles behind the ideologies, and then work to understand the tensions within them. This means that they are then able to answer questions such as ‘Is multiculturalism merely a recipe for conflict?’, ‘Is feminism defined by a desire for equality?’, ‘Can the goals of ecologism only be achieved through radical social change?’, and ‘Is nationalism inherently expansionist?’

Trips and events

The politics department is always a very busy department, with weekly lunchtime meetings of the Knoller Society to discuss what is going on in the news. We run events to coincide with all major political events – in recent years this has included hosting local hustings for all prospective MPs for the Guildford constituency for the 2015 General Election, and then running a mock school election. We have also hosted an EU referendum hustings event, and pupils have made podcasts to inform voters about the EU.

Every year, all politics students attend a political conference in London to hear speakers from all the major political parties, and teams from Cranleigh have reached the final of the PSA Short Video Competition for the past two years. Every two years, we also run a trip to Washington DC, where pupils are able to learn about the history and politics of the USA.

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