Speaking directly to Parliament: A young person’s experience

On the 24th of March, my living room became the House of Commons. And that Zoom meeting room became the Committee Rooms. That day still feels unreal; as young people, we spend hours trying to plead with adults that our opinions matter and that we deserve to be involved in shaping laws about us, and here I was. After over a year of fear, uncertainty, online learning and way too many hours on screens, here were MPs with a strong message: they care. 

That day, I gave evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee on Education. I did it with two of my best friends, in front of MPs who hold power over our lives and our futures.

Our whole world was turned upside down last year, our homes became our colleges, our youth clubs, our places of worship, and we've all dealt with the circumstances differently. The Education Select Committee is currently running an enquiry about education during lockdown, and when I was asked to give evidence, I leapt at the chance. As a Politics student, I recognise the importance of government scrutiny and shaping policy involving my life. The feeling after being able to speak to these MPs for over an hour on how this year has been, was indescribable. We covered different subjects, such as exams, content, teachings, extracurricular activities and our fears and worries for the future. We echoed our fears on subjects such as the future of the job market, or how our exam grades will be seen by employers, as a year who’s A Levels/GCSEs were “cancelled”. 

Watch the Education Committee session

It was also an opportunity of a lifetime to be able to ask the MPs questions, including one on their role in scrutinising the government, and also when they think the educational gap that has been widened as a result of covid, will finally even out.

The last year has been the most uncertain. In a year where I should have had the most certainty and power over my life; I've had to choose university courses based on unis I've never seen apart from via a screen, I've had to study and do tests online and battle internet issues or distractions from across my house. 

But that zoom call gave me hope for the future.

I'm extremely grateful that the House of Commons made a conscious effort to listen to young people and value our opinions and our experiences, and I really hope they take our views into account when creating further legislation. 

Bethan, 17.