What does the Education Select Committee do?


You might have heard of the Education Select Committee but might be unsure of what they do and what their remit is.

As a member of school staff you might not follow the day-to-day goings-on of the committee but you might find it interesting to find out about the topics they discuss and the reports which are published.

The Education Select Committee is currently composed of 11 cross-party MPs (a mixture of Conservative and Labour MPs).

The committee scrutinises the work of the Department for Education (DfE), covering children’s social care, schools, colleges, the early years and higher education. The Committee also holds regular hearings with DfE’s arms-length bodies, including Ofsted, Ofqual and the Children’s Commissioner. 

You can follow the Committee on Twitter @CommonsEd

In this support article, we provide an overview of what different Select Committees do, look specifically at the role of the Education Select Committee and link to further information. 

What are Select Committees?

The UK Parliament website explains much of the work of the House of Commons and the House of Lords takes place in committees. 

Select Committees work in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

They check and report on areas ranging from the work of government departments to economic affairs. The results of these inquiries are public and many require a response from the government. 

There is a Commons Select Committee for each government department, examining three aspects:

  • Spending
  • Policies
  • Administration

These departmental committees have a minimum of 11 members, who decide upon the line of inquiry and then gather written and oral evidence. Findings are reported to the Commons, printed, and published on the Parliament website. The government then usually has 60 days to reply to the committee’s recommendations.

For most inquiries, the Committee will also hold question and answer “oral evidence” sessions with witnesses. These are held in public, normally in a Committee Room at the Houses of Parliament.

The Education Select Committee: what does it do?

The UK Parliament website outlines information specifically on the education select committee

You can view current inquiries here. 

Inquiries allow committees to consider oral and written evidence on a particular topic. They usually result in the publication of a report.

For example on the topic of  ‘Left behind white pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.’ 

The Education Select Committee investigated the issues faced by disadvantaged groups, with an initial inquiry into the educational underachievement of white pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds including white working class pupils.

The inquiry examined the extent of the achievement gap between this group and their peers and how it is measured, alongside a consideration of the effects of the covid-19 outbreak. 

An interactive summary of the report can be viewed here.

The latest publications of the Education Select Committee can be viewed here.

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