Record on the Select Committee activity of SCIE Politics Club


On 6 January 2022, Politics Club members discussed the British Select Committee system online with Doctor Alexandra Meakin from the University of Leeds, who had been invited by the Academic Deputy Principal– Mr. Richard Driscoll. 

Meakin first introduced the definition, functions, benefits, and drawbacks of the Select Committee enthusiastically. Then, she merged into the class with a Q&A session. An impressive discussion followed, finally putting a period to Meakin’s tercet. More importantly, the whole activity facilitated club members to acquire insights into British politics and enhanced their cultivation of critical thinking and group study skills.

Meakin delivered the lecture with great passion and enthusiasm. Meakin first ardently dispose of the basics regarding the Select Committee, instantly grabbing every club member’s straight attention. She went beyond the confinement of prosaic traditional didacticism, expounding fervently with enthusiastically fluctuating intonation and euphoric expressions. Feeling such passion at an archetypically serious academic seminar proved an overdose of avidity for club members. However, it then assisted them to indulge in the feast of supposedly ‘dull knowledge.’ 

In short, members knew that a Select Committee is a cross-party entity appointed by the House of Commons or the House of Lords. It includes members of parliament or peers to supervise the government and, increasingly, private firms. For example, the Commons Select Committee of Science and Technology is responsible for the Government Office of Science supervision. 

In addition, the Select Committee can be categorised into two divisions: the first category includes ad-hoc committees set up for resolving a particular issue and for a specific duration or deadline. The second category involved sessional committees that are organised to meet at intervals to discuss problems unique to a particular topic. 

Overall, the general aim of Select Committees is to institutionalise parliamentary supervision of governmental and private entities to investigate matters of public concern, improve government transparency, and attempt to solve problems incurred during the investigation. It was worth noticing that without Meakin’s captivating method of education, the teaching could be the most inefficient, especially if the fact that details other than what has been mentioned are considered.

After clarifying some misunderstandings about the functioning of Select Committees that may arise among club members, Meakin analysed the merit and demerit, as “He is lifeless that is faultless” as the institution of Select Committees – they do have their maladies. A chosen committee often does a one-off operation and then seldom has any follow-up with the matter, whatever the problem is solved. However, it works beneficially to some extent. 

Some club members consulted Meakin about the functioning and misfunctioning of the Select Committee under the present context. Critical thinking skills were naturally applied and improved when a student asked, “No matter how good it sounds that a Select Committee can improve transparency, won’t they be affected by partisan politics and rent-seeking interest?” 

Later, the focal point shifted to a discussing fundamental defect of Select Committees – “Who are there to supervise Select Committees that supervise others? If any, is the ‘over’ flat management from superior supervision effective at all?” Meakin answered heedfully questions with a more scholarly attitude and lasting passion.

Everyone found the activity a success. Many club members started realising the talent of Meakin’s organisation and pedagogy right after the session. With the overexcitement at the beginning of the activity, club members satisfactorily and efficiently obtained the “dull” basics and insights of the Select Committee indispensable for the later academic discussion. 

Above all, Meakin significantly maintained the balance between duller deep learning and fascinating conversation. The activity was successful as the politics club Select Committee activity bolsters the acquisition of political knowledge, group learning skills, and the habit of critical thinking. Later, Doctor Meakins claimed she was impressed by the questioning quality of the Politics club students. She remarked how surprised she was by their strong understanding of the Select Committees.

Politics club has allowed us at SCIE to develop key critical thinking skills which will assist university application. We are excited for the next activity. Thanks again to Dr Meakins to help inspire us in our learning