Students from schools across London engaged in the CLS Summer Course: “Harnessing the power of longitudinal research for policy impact” for 7 weeks in June and July.
Here, they reflect on their experience on the course, and how it helped them gain a better understanding of the use of longitudinal research in shaping policy, how researchers and the general public can engage with policy makers, and the role of parliament in creating legislation.
What have you learned about the value of longitudinal research?
During the course of the summer school, I learnt that longitudinal studies consist of quantitative and qualitative data, which is collected at different important periods across the life course. However, what was highlighted for me is that longitudinal studies also capture the experiences of individuals, and this should be valued and used to implement positive change for policies.
Furthermore, longitudinal research can be used to influence government decisions towards policies and legislations. As I learnt through the CLS summer course, there are many ways in which longitudinal research can be used to influence the policy cycle. For example, when members of parliament use data from academic research to assist in debating various legislations.
We created infographics based on research covered on the summer course, therefore developing case studies and promoting evidence that can be used to support research for bills. By raising the profile of important topics addressed using longitudinal research, such as differences in the way parents and children report their mental health, these issues can be pushed forward onto parliament’s agenda.
What was your experience of visiting parliament?
Visiting parliament was not what I expected, but it was certainly a positive experience that I’ll remember. The day started in Porticullis House where we met Nikki, a senior education and engagement officer, who encouraged us all to campaign more and showed us the ways we could do so. This was an important point which I took away from the day, as many of the other speakers we met reiterated this point. From Nikki’s talk, I feel that I’ve gained a better understanding of the processes that go on within parliament, the different roles of people who work in parliament, and what the general public can do to aid campaigns, such as signing petitions or writing letter to their local MPs.
Following this, we went on a tour through the houses of parliament. One thing I enjoyed was learning about the symbolism inside the actual building. For example, the art in the two houses, including that related to women’s suffrage, and the partial rebuilding of the entrance to the commons following the war, as a reminder of the consequences of human actions. I believe the message from this is that despite secular changes, the prevalence of the parliamentary buildings reflects the resilience of the people both inside and outside of the house. This is something I found with the UCL team who worked with us and I’m grateful for my experiences on the summer course. One of my favourite aspects of the visit to parliament was speaking to the Lord Kennedy of Suffolk, who had strong convictions about holding resilience and humility. One of the things he said that I will take away with me, is that “there always will be change was long as there are people who want change”.
What part of the summer course did you enjoy most?
Being able to visit parliament was an incredible opportunity during the summer course. I was able to understand the significance and importance of research while also going on an insightful tour of the parliamentary buildings – it was an absolute pleasure to go on this trip. This experience helped deepen my connection with my peers who also joined this summer course and led to lasting friendships as a result. I am extremely glad that I took part in this course and hold great memories towards this.