Last night, the two of us won the Political Studies Association’s Innovation in Teaching award, for our third year module on parliament. The module has run for a decade, and in that time many MPs, peers and journalists have spoken to the students, and we’re very grateful to them for all the help they’ve given us.
An important part of this course – and why we suspect we got an award for innovation – is our rebels and whips role play exercise, which we’ve also done for ten years. It always used to work fairly well; but it has worked especially well for the last four years, because we’ve been able to call on Jacqui Smith, a real life former Chief Whip to play the role of Chief; there’s something about seeing a cocky undergraduate getting a dressing down from a former Chief Whip that lends the exercise a certain verisimilitude that it lacked otherwise. So an especial thank you to Jacqui Smith, who’s been as good a whip for us as she was for Tony Blair. (After the very first close vote she and her team won, she punched the air and said ‘yessss….’, which just goes to show that you can take the woman out of the whips office but you can’t take the whips office out of the woman).
Actual photos may follow, but in the meantime here’s an artist’s impression of us winning the prize.