Scottish independence: Councils bar 'Yes' and 'No' campaigns from schools

 
A BBC Scotland survey revealed 84% of councils will restrict access to pupils once the purdah period starts on 22 August. BBC Scotland spoke to the country's 32 councils about their policy on referendum debates in schools

The official referendum campaigns are being barred from the majority of schools in Scotland ahead of polling day, BBC research has found.

Twenty-six of the country's 32 councils will restrict access to Yes Scotland and Better Together.

However, most councils said pupils would be able to talk about the referendum in school.

For the first time in the UK, 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland - the majority of whom attend high school - can vote.

The findings come on the first day of "purdah" which curbs what public bodies can do during election periods.

In the lead up to the referendum on 18 September, governments and local authorities are restricted on what new projects they can announce and legislate on, for fear of influencing the way people vote.

Many councils north of the border are applying those "purdah" rules to referendum debate activities in schools.

What are the policies of Scottish councils?

Authority name Have campaign groups been barred?

SOURCE: Scottish councils

Aberdeen

Yes

Aberdeenshire

No

Dumfries and Galloway

Yes

Dundee

Yes

Glasgow

Yes

Midlothian

Yes

Scottish Borders

Yes

BBC Research: Full breakdown on what Scottish councils said.

In four weeks time, Scotland's electorate will be asked the "Yes/No" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

The BBC Scotland research found the majority of local authorities had chosen to limit access to campaign groups in the coming weeks, and were strictly adhering to guidelines outlined in the Referendum Act.

Six councils - Aberdeenshire, East Ayrshire, Edinburgh, Orkney, Shetland Islands, and Western Isles - said they would allow the Yes Scotland and Better Together campaigns access to their students during this 28-day period.

Public bodies

Electoral Commission guidelines stipulate what materials may not be published by public bodies, but they do not specifically address whether campaigns can visit schools and interact with pupils ahead of polling day.

A commission spokesman told BBC Scotland it was up to each local authority to decide how to approach the pre-referendum period.

Orkney Council, which has not barred Yes Scotland and Better Together, stressed that any activity on school premises would need to be balanced in the countdown to polling day.

A statement said: "In the interests of even-handedness, both sides of the debate would have to be involved in any such visit.

"This would also have to take place outside class time and would have to be short."

line
What is the purdah period?

By BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor

"Political purdah means different things for different people.

"For ministers, in the run-up to an election, it places a curb upon their natural desire to evangelise their undoubted talents to the citizens at public expense.

"For civil servants, it can provide a welcome relief - from the ever helpful advice offered by ministers. A chance to get on with governing the country, free from unwarranted interruption. And, of course, to prepare for the next administration - of whatever political hue.

"More seriously, purdah refers to the specified period prior to an election when governments desist from making announcements designed to impress the people and, thus, win votes for their party."

line

The Better Together campaign questioned the approach by many councils to limit access to schools.

A statement from the group said: "The decision we take on 18 September will determine the future of Scotland's young people, so it's vital that those with the vote get to hear all of the facts and the arguments.

"For young Scots the idea of creating barriers and limiting their opportunities makes no sense."

A spokesman for Yes Scotland said the issue of schools hosting referendum debates was a matter "for local councils to administer".

He added: "Yes Scotland is always happy to accept invitations to debate."

line
What are the issues of the referendum?
Debt graphs

As the people of Scotland weigh up how to vote in the independence referendum, they are asking questions on a range of topics, from welfare to pensions. In a special news website series, we take a look at those major questions and by using statistics, analysis and expert views shining a light on some of the possible answers. Our correspondents have already written about how broadcasting, oil, education, trident and debt fit into the referendum debate.

line

Many councils said that while the two campaigns would not be allowed into schools now, they had attended school debates earlier in the year.

Falkirk Council agreed upon a policy with head teachers that each secondary school should hold a referendum presentation between February and June, attended by two members from each campaign.

Tony McDaid, head of education at South Lanarkshire Council, said: "Over 500 young people from schools throughout South Lanarkshire took part in a debate on independence at Hamilton Town House in June.

"Representatives from the Yes and No campaign pitched their points to the audience of 16 and 17 year olds."

Last year all councils were issued with a joint briefing from key organisations including;

  • The Association of Directors in Education Scotland
  • Education Scotland; the Electoral Commission
  • The Electoral Management Board for Scotland
  • And School Leaders Scotland.

The briefing encouraged councils to ensure young adults were;

  • Registered to vote,
  • Were aware of how to vote on polling day
  • Understood the key referendum issues
  • And were made aware of other online resources.

At the start of 2014, all councils were issued with Education Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence briefing which informed teachers how to promote political literacy ahead of the referendum.

The BBC Scotland research found that five councils - Angus, Dundee, Highland, Moray and North Ayrshire - were placing the heaviest restrictions on their schools during the "purdah" period.

No school debates

In guidance notes issued to its schools, Angus Council stated: "Individual school mock hustings must be held prior to the pre-referendum period and in the course of session 2013 / 2014."

Similarly, a spokesman for Dundee council said: "We have organised a central referendum debate through the Dundee Youth Council which has already been held and all secondary schools were involved.

"We have agreed that there will be no individual school debates over and above this."

The remaining councils stipulated that while school debates were not permissible, general classroom discussion related to the referendum would be allowed.

 

More on This Story

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • Comment number 357.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 356.

    Indoctrination isn't teachers etc. openly stating their views.
    Rather UK press constantly putting down education, Europe, and now Scotland.
    In fact many Yes voters cite UK's press-banker-corporate elite.
    UK's the only EU gov't that allows MPs on corporate payrolls.
    So- worst income gap, education, etc.
    UK elite seem untouchable.
    I don't find that in W. Europe.
    W'minster is past reform.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 355.

    353.Auld Reekie

    What you on man?
    Just how long do you want him to go on for?

    So you are going to help us by absolving us of our share of the national debt created by Westminster governments.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 354.

    349.hengis

    Not keeping up with the news?
    Culturally, London is the most expensive place in all Europe.
    As for living there, many Londoners commute due to horrendous housing costs, and have to pay exorbitant rail fares to a 2nd rate subsidised rail system.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 353.

    @352. Drunken Hobo

    "Whisky, tourism, energy, farming, engineering, ..."

    The only people to talk our great nation down is your party and Project Hate.

    Interesting to see you listed many industries, which as it happens the rUK are the main recipients of our exports! Tourism? Yep, the rUK our biggest guests.

    You wish to give 2 fingers to them and then expert them to be our lender of last resort!

 

Comments 5 of 357

 

More Scotland politics stories

RSS

Scotland Live

  1.  
    10:02: Sing-a-long St Andrews hits high note

    The St Andrews Voices Festival, the only festival in the country devoted to vocal and choral music, begins tomorrow.

    The festival offers something for everyone with singing workshops and open air performances with music from Bach to Beyonce.

    The Alleycats

    One of the groups involved in the festival are the award-winning acapella group from the University of St Andrews, The Alleycats.

    Artistic director Sonia Stevenson says St Andrews is the perfect location to test the vocal chords.

    "It's a very cultural place," she added. "St Andrews is a small town but it punches way above its weight in terms of culture."

    Given the chance, which song would you choose at the sing-a-long?

    Text 80295, email here or tweet using #ScotlandLive.

     
  2.  
    09:58: A History of Maps

    A new book has been published exploring Edinburgh's history through maps, some of which have never before appeared in print.

    Edinburgh: Mapping the City brings together 71 maps, including the earliest known map of Edinburgh which was drafted about 1530 by exiled Scottish Lutheran theologian Alexander Allane.

    Edinburgh maps
     
  3.  
    09:30: Cargo ship towed to safety

    A cargo ship which was drifting off Fair Isle overnight is being towed to safety at Lerwick Harbour.

    The Dutch registered freighter Myrte which has nine crew suffered engine failure following a small fire on board.

    A tug from the port of Sullom Voe attached a line to the vessel this morning.

    The Myrte was travelling from Invergordon to Lerwick with a cargo of pipes for the oil industry when she ran into trouble 12 miles south east of Fair Isle.

     
  4.  
    09:22: Devo max

    Speaking on Morning Call about the Smith Commission, Lesley Riddoch said she wanted devo max from the process.

    Ms Riddoch added: "Devolution is not like a bit more milk, or a bit more cream. You don't just get a bit more, a bit less, and it is much the same. There is quite a step change of what gets handed back to Scotland.

    "The proposals currently on the table, particularly from the Tories and Lib Dems to devolve the income tax without oil revenues, that could be a recipe for disaster for Scotland."

     
  5.  
    09:15: Oil revenue John Beattie BBC Scotland

    Scottish oil revenue is down to £1.1bn for the first six months of the year.

     
  6.  
    09:13: Hen Harrier protection

    The RSPB has launched a cross-border five-year programme to protect the future of an endangered bird of prey, the hen harrier.

    Most of the UK breeding population of the birds are found in Orkney, the Hebrides and parts of the western mainland.

    Hen harrier

    Between 2004 and 2010, Scotland's hen harrier population declined by 20%.

    The birds were previously a common sight in the UK's uplands, but persecution by game preservers and skin and egg collectors meant that by 1900 they were almost extinct in the UK.

     
  7.  
    09:03: Obituary - Glenn Gibbons The Scotsman

    In a professional career spanning five decades, Glenn Gibbons forged a reputation as one of Scotland's most independently minded and insightful sports journalists.

    Primarily a football correspondent, he utilised his pugnacious and often acerbic style of writing to telling effect throughout the dramatically different eras of the sport in this country of which he was a colourful chronicler and sharp observer.

    Read the full obituary.

     
  8.  
    Text 80295 09:00: Political powers - Get Involved

    Jon, East Kilbride: The best thing for Scotland would be get rid of the Scottish Parliament and all the defeated SNP never-ever-has-been's and never-ever-will-be's.

    Martin, Bishopton: It has to be maximum devolution. (Devo Max) with 45% voting Yes and at least 10% voting No on the basis of the vow. Federalism, home rule, devo max were terms used by Brown, Alexander, Galloway to persuade people to vote No. Anything less would be an epic let down.

    George in Elgin: Smith Commission - Let's call a halt to any more wind farms trashing our finest landscapes!

     
  9.  
    08:55: Assisted suicide

    Proposals to legalise assisted suicide are "unnecessary, unethical and uncontrollable", according to campaigners opposed to the move.

    Care Not Killing (CNK) has launched an online petition calling on MSPs to reject a bill that would allow people to obtain help in ending their life.

    Nurse and patient holding hands

    The Assisted Suicide Bill is backed by Green MSP Patrick Harvie on behalf of former independent MSP Margo MacDonald.

    Ms MacDonald died in April following a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

     
  10.  
    08:45: Today's papers

    The Scottish Sun and The Daily Record devote their front pages to Celtic keeper Lukasz Zaluska's black eye.

    Meanwhile, the Scottish Daily Mail leads with a story on the poor meals being provided on a tiny budget to Scottish hospital patients.

    Front pages 22 October

    Fancy a full-blown account of what the papers are saying? Read our round-up here.

     
  11.  
    08:44: Travel update BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    In Dundee, the A972 Kingsway East is clear of that accident at Old Craigie Road.

    In Glasgow, it is very slow at Junction 2A - the Cambuslang Road junction of the Glasgow-bound M74 extension.

    For drivers in Dumbarton, delays of 20 minutes through the roadworks on A82 Stirling Road. At the Whitburn junction of the M8, it's looking stop/start eastbound.

    Ferries are looking much better than yesterday, but Stena Line has cancelled its 11:30 sailing from Cairnryan to Belfast.

     
  12.  
    08:40: Devolution talks Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    What do YOU want for Scotland? #SmithCommission Talking to @LesleyRiddoch on @BBCRadioScot #morningcall 0850

     
  13.  
    08:30: Ebola warning

    A global health expert is warning that the Ebola virus is "very likely" to come to Scotland.

    Dr Devi Sridhar said isolated cases are possible, with Aberdeen one of the places most at risk because of its prominence in the oil and gas industry.

    ebola

    Aberdeen councillor Barney Crockett told Good Morning Scotland: "I think we have to be appropriately concerned, but I don't think we have to make it a pressing worry to us.

    "The health service has made preparations. Our industries are used to having a worldwide approach into looking at a very careful analysis of risk. The two together, people in Scotland should take great heart from that."

     
  14.  
    08:25: Coming up... Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    As the Smith Commission meets to consider more powers for the Scottish Parliament, we're asking what do you want for Scotland?

    Also, with respect to the challenges and dilemmas of looking after someone with dementia: what comes first, care or dignity?

    Louise White

    The lines are open now. 0500 92 95 00 or text 80295.

    You can listen live from 08:50 here.

     
  15.  
    08:17: High Street sales blow

    Scotland's high streets have suffered their poorest sales figures for September since records began.

    Official statistics show total sales dropped by 2.9% compared with September 2013.

    Sale sign on the High Street

    Food sales were down 2.4%, while non-food sales decreased by 3.3% on the previous year.

    Analysts blamed uncertainty over the independence referendum and unseasonably warm weather for people staying away from the shops.

    David Martin, of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "September was a challenging month for retailers with a combination of factors contributing to the weakest sales performance since January 1999, excluding Easter distortions."

     
  16.  
    08:10: 'Hail of bullets' VC hero honoured

    A soldier who braved a hail of bullets to rescue wounded comrades during a World War One battle in France is being honoured in his home city of Glasgow.

    Pte Henry May received the Victoria Cross (VC) - the highest award for gallantry - for actions at La Boutillerie on 22 October 1914.

    Private May

    A paving stone in his memory will be unveiled outside the People's Palace.

    Stones are being laid in the home town of every UK soldier awarded the VC as part of World War One centenary events.

    The paving stone in memory of Bridgeton soldier Pte May will be unveiled on Wednesday by the city's Depute Lord Provost Gerry Leonard.

     
  17.  
    08:06: Coming up... Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    Global health expert says Scottish cases of Ebola "very likely" with Aberdeen one of the places most at risk. #bbcgms 0815

    BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme

    You can listen live to BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme here.

     
  18.  
    08:03: Travel update BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    Glasgow M8: One lane blocked RTC Westbound at J13 M80 (Provan). Lane three (Of three) blocked just before the entry slip. Police en route.

    In Dundee, the A972 Kingsway East partially blocked; accident at Old Craigie Road/Pitkerro Road/Pitkerro Drive/Kingsway East. Police are in attendance.

     
  19.  
    08:02: Bolster political powers

    The Smith Commission, set up to consider more powers for the Scottish Parliament, is to hold its first full meeting later.

    Chairman Lord Smith of Kelvin will meet representatives of Scotland's main political parties at the Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh.

    Scottish Parliament chamber at Holyrood

    The SNP, Labour, the Conservatives, the Lib Dems and the Scottish Green Party have all made devolution proposals.

    The five parties represented in the Scottish Parliament each have two representatives on the commission, which is expected to reach an agreement by 30 November.

    Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, who campaigned against independence, have all promised further powers for Scotland in areas including taxation, the economy and employment.

     
  20.  
    08:00: Welcome Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    Good morning and welcome to Wednesday's edition of Scotland Live, as we bring you a comprehensive round-up of news, sport, travel and weather from now until 18:00.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.