To echo the famous quotation from Prime Minister Harold Macmillan about the state of life in the UK in 1957, there has never been a better time to study Politics. 

‘If you don’t do politics, there’s not much you do do.’ About twenty years ago the Electoral Commission, the independent body that regulates elections in the UK, used this slogan in a public awareness campaign aimed at encouraging greater participation and understanding of the democratic process.

It is a mantra that we as a Politics Department have followed over the years as we engage pupils of all ages and help them develop a life-long interest in the subject. Ultimately our aim is for all Bradfieldians to be passionate about politics.

When I tell people what I teach, they often respond with “what a fantastic time to be teaching politics”; but the truth is there is never a bad time to teach such a dynamic subject. The constantly changing trends in both UK and international politics provide us with endless opportunities for debate and discussion both between and with the pupils. This is undoubtedly what attracts many of our pupils who are striving for a new and different challenge after their GCSEs. However, the volatile political landscape also brings plenty of challenges for us as teachers. While the broad concepts like power, sovereignty, legitimacy and accountability may remain the same, our resources constantly require updating to keep pace with contemporary developments.




From a political perspective, there is currently unprecedented scrutiny about what is being taught in our classrooms in an increasingly polarised post-Brexit society. The Department for Education recently took the unusual step of reissuing the guidance on political impartiality in schools, generating controversy and increasing discussion in the media. At Bradfield we have always strongly believed in the need to encourage different and competing perspectives, expressed in an open and tolerant classroom environment. Many of our pupils possess strong opinions, but to better understand their own convictions we urge them to analyse and consider arguments from a variety of angles; can you really defend your own position if you do not understand the counter views?

This is central to our wider mission to develop open- minded young people who can understand and empathise with others. By virtue of its very nature, Politics has been in the vanguard of discussions around equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) at the College. Alongside looking for greater variety in the case studies we introduce to pupils, we have also opted to study Feminism as the ‘non-core’ ideology on the A Level programme; this has provided opportunities for pupils to debunk some of the misconceptions around the term and to further explore debates about gender equality.




Next year we will have a record number of pupils studying Politics in the Sixth Form. However, the subject is not only offered to our senior pupils but has also become a core rotation on the Divisions curriculum, fostering political participation amongst our youngest pupils. Al MacEwen, Director of the Bradfield Society and an experienced Politics teacher, introduces Faulkner’s pupils to the UK system and explores political participation. We believe that encouraging democratic engagement and civic responsibility is a crucial part of becoming a good member of society.

Pupils are given opportunities to do this in both a formal and informal setting; during their Bradfield careers, our current Upper Sixth pupils have taken part in two mock general elections, in 2017 and 2019, but I’m hoping we won’t have to organise another one just yet!


Whatever path each pupil takes on their individual journey through Bradfield, they will all become a part of the electorate in the future. Given that sixteen and seventeen-year-olds can already vote in Scotland and Wales, perhaps in the future our pupils will need to be better informed at an even younger age in order to confidently exercise their right to vote when the time comes.

In September we are excited to launch the Global Politics course on the IB Diploma, giving us a dual-track system in the Sixth Form. Maddie Best will be using her expertise in International Relations to lead the rollout of what is a relatively new IB course, but one that we feel fits perfectly with our institutional ethos and aim to create globally minded citizens.

A Level pupils learning about Blair’s 1997 landslide accompanied by a ‘Top Hits of 1997’ music playlist

Conceptually there is plenty of crossover with A Level Politics, but the Global route offers real opportunities to look beyond our own UK political bubble and to examine different cultures, systems and conflicts from right across the globe. In recent years we have had real success in seeing many of our pupils going on to study International Relations and other Politics-related degree courses at university and this qualification will no doubt help to fuel a similar desire in future Bradfield pupils.

The great German statesman Otto von Bismarck famously remarked that “politics is not an exact science” and it’s something we put at the centre of our teaching; that there is not always a right or a wrong answer. Some pupils struggle with this to begin with but, over time, they start to understand and develop useful soft skills through studying Politics; empathy, persuasion and diplomacy are skills that evidently benefit them in other school settings and group environments beyond Bradfield.

Earlier this year we had the pleasure of welcoming back two OBs, Ben Curtis (G 10-15) and Max Mosley (F 10-15), to speak to current pupils about their own experiences working for Westminster politicians. Ben is now running for elected office as a local councillor while Max is currently working for an economic think tank having done some excellent research on the welfare system. Politics really does form part of an ‘Education for Life’ because all Bradfield pupils will be affected by political decisions as they head off to university and into the workplace to forge their future careers. None of us are immune from politics, good or bad, and that is why as a department we always insist that: ‘If you don’t do politics, there’s not much you do do’!