All 800 pupils at Nairn Academy are to be invited to vote in a mock referendum on Scottish Independence. Voting will take place within the school between 8 am and 5 pm on Thursday 21 November with the result announced the following day in front of senior pupils.
It is hoped that the Nairn mock referendum will provide a template for other secondary schools to follow as part of a major exercise in the Highlands to raise awareness of the democratic process and in the run up to the independence referendum on 18 September next year.
The mock referendum is being organised by the school community in partnership with election officials at The Highland Council and follows a decision by the Council’s Community Planning, Public Engagement and Equalities Committee to involve younger people in voting.
Senior pupils Finlay Allmond and Ellena Leslie will be playing a key role in promoting the election and acting as the Presiding Officers at the count. Other senior pupils will be helping to generate interest in the mock referendum by promoting the “yes” or “no” campaigns.
The referendum was launched at school assembly today (Monday).
Polling cards will be issued to all pupils on Monday 11 November and in the run up to the election, a debate will be held with senior pupils arguing the case for and against voting for the proposition: “Should Scotland be an independent country”.
Head Teacher Julie Macdonald said: “The school takes an active involvement in the Highland Youth Voice and in public debating and we are delighted to be the first school in the Highlands to organise a mock referendum on Scottish independence which promotes the democratic process with our young people.
“I will be looking very much to the senior pupils at the school to generate the interest in the event and ensure we achieve a really good turn out at the ballot box.I t will give them good experience at organising a major event.
“It will also give the younger pupils a better understanding of the issues and the process that goes with voting in a referendum.”
Finlay said: “This is an amazing opportunity for young people to learn about the election process and give their opinion on matters affecting our nation today.”
Ellena said: “ The mock election is a fantastic opportunity for young people, not just the 16-17 year olds to experience the election process. It is an excellent idea and I know that the young people will really enjoy the day as it opens up a new learning curve.”
Councillor Drew Millar, Chair of the Community Safety, Public Engagement and Equalities Committee said: “We are delighted that Nairn Academy has offered to organise the first of what we hope will be a series of mock events linked to the Scottish Independence referendum. It is clearly a subject that will interest young people and I am sure there will be an excellent turn out on the day of the vote.
“The aim is to encourage younger people to engage with the voting process and this is an excellent way to generate interest.”
Mr William Gilfillan, Corporate Manager, The Highland Council will be at Nairn Academy to announce the result at 11 am on Friday 22 November.