Caitlin de Jode
Public Affairs Officer, Teach First

Have your say on the Government’s response to COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt schools, the House of Commons Education Select Committee has launched an inquiry into its impact – and they want to hear from you. 

The inquiry will assess the effects of COVID-19 across all areas of education and the children’s social care system, scrutinising the Department for Education’s response to date. As part of this, it will examine both the short-term effects of this outbreak, such as school closures and exam cancellations, as well as longer-term implications – especially for the most vulnerable children.

Getting involved in a parliamentary inquiry might sound intimidating, but it’s really not! In fact, it’s an important way you can shape government policy and make your voice heard.

How does it work?

Parliamentary Select Committees are cross-party groups of MPs who scrutinise and influence the policy of a government department – in this case, the Department for Education (DfE). During an inquiry, they’ll take evidence from a wide range of sources, and the Government minister responsible will be questioned by the committee. 

Once they’ve gathered all the evidence and heard from a range of experts, the Committee will publish a report including their policy recommendations. Crucially, the Government must respond to each recommendation – and in many cases will implement the Committee’s suggestions.

Select committee inquiries provide an excellent platform to highlight important issues, hold the Government to account, and ultimately change policy.

How can you get involved?

The Committee wants to hear from you: the experts in how schools are responding to the crisis. You can respond on an individual basis, or on behalf of your school, multi-academy trust or network. We’ve got the Teach First response covered, so we ask you not to respond on Teach First’s behalf.

You can upload your written evidence on the Committee’s website.

Be quick though! The deadline for submissions is 31 May.

Top tips for submitting your evidence

Writing a submission for a select committee inquiry might sound intimidating, and it can be hard to know where to begin. 

Some prompts to help you get started:
  • Do your research: start by looking at the inquiry’s terms of reference. At the beginning of your response, outline the specific parts of the terms of reference you're addressing, then stick to those. 
  • Keep it concise: you don’t need to cover everything – just focus on your areas of expertise. Try and stick to no more than 3,000 words, and reflect the experiences of your students and colleagues. 
  • Tell them who you are: it’s useful if you provide a few sentences of context about yourself and your school. This is a great chance to raise the profile of your school and it will really help the Committee staff interpret your response (although you can submit anonymously if you wish).
  • Be clear, specific and structured: at the start of your submission, be really clear about what you’re going to talk about. Use headings, sub-headings and bullet points to make your written evidence easy to follow, and keep referring back to the terms of reference.
  • Use examples: the Committee are most interested in hearing about how the outbreak has impacted your staff, students and wider community, and how your school is responding to the crisis. Help by giving them factual information and specific examples, and explaining the support that you and your students need.
  • Be constructive: this is your opportunity to make policy suggestions that could influence ministers. Think about what’s worked well in your school, and how it could be scaled up. If you’ve got plans on how to support your most vulnerable students when schools return, share them. You never know – your recommendations could make it to the final report and end up being adopted as new education policy. 

Great! So what's next?

Time to start writing! Then you can submit your own evidence to the Committee. If you’ve got any questions or want some feedback on your response, we’re more than happy to have a chat. Just drop us an email and we’ll arrange a call.

We’d love to learn about your experiences and your recommendations, so please share your final submission with us either by email or on Twitter.
 

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