DCSIMG

Scottish independence: School referendum classes

  • by MARK MCLAUGHLIN
 

The school curriculum should include classes on the forthcoming independence referendum, according to election officials.

They hope to stage a widespread publicity campaign to ensure everyone eligible to vote next year can have their say.

They are particularly keen to engage with 16- and 17-year-olds, who will be able to vote for the first time in a major poll. This would involve communicating with children now 14.

Joan Hewton, the electoral registration officer for Lothian, said: “We would want to target schools because, if you’re looking for 14- to 15-year-olds, they have got to be in education. So I think one of the key ways would be to try and approach schools with a view to trying to get the school pupils actually registering at the schools.”

She added: “It would be great to see it as a specific item on the curriculum.”

SNP MSP Annabel Ewing said: “In terms of what we need for a good publicity campaign, I would have thought also a route would be within the school itself, via modern studies classes or citizenship classes, which every school has. That would be a good route to discuss, particularly, the registration process.”

Measures are being implemented to prevent the names and addresses of children on the expanded referendum voters’ roll entering the public domain.

The UK roll is available for sale and perusal in public libraries, but concerns have been raised that an expanded roll could cause problems for protected children if it is published.

The referendum roll, which will include the details of those reaching 16 by the time of the vote, will be available only to returning officers. Political parties and campaign organisations may also get access to check the eligibility of campaign donors.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Pupils already learn about elections and the importance of democratic systems as part of their education.

“It will be for the Electoral Commission to consider how young people who will be eligible to vote in the referendum can best be provided with the factual information they need.”

 

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