Orkney Islands Council
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Orkney Pupils Ready to Vote

Orkney Pupils Ready to Vote
21 April 2017

Senior pupils at Orkney’s two biggest secondary schools have been busy over the last few months preparing themselves for the local elections on May 4.

For the first time in the local Council elections, 16 and 17 year olds will have the right to vote.

Pupil at Stromness Academy will put questions to prospective Councillors from the West Mainland ward at a hustings event in the school today (Friday 21 April) and have also been learning about the election process in their lessons.

Ian Berstan is Acting Head Teacher at Stromness Academy. He said: “At Stromness Academy we think it really important that our pupils learn to become engaged in political processes. We’re delighted to be joining other schools in Scotland in taking part in the Ready to Vote campaign and really looking forward to welcoming the candidates into our school.”

Time constraints have not allowed Kirkwall Grammar School to run a hustings, but pupils there have also been encouraged to engage in the local council election through special assemblies and classes.

Pupils at both schools have also been given the opportunity to contribute to BBC Radio Orkney’s live hustings, with pupils recording questions in advance for the programme.

Don Hawkins is the Head Teacher at Kirkwall Grammar School. He said: “Our pupils have been heavily involved in the national #ReadyToVote campaign and our staff in the social studies department have been working hard to prepare them for voting in the election, ensuring that they understand and feel engaged with the process.

“Kirkwall Grammar School covers four different wards and 28 prospective candidates, so we weren’t in a position to run a hustings in our school with the exam timetable fast approaching.  However we were delighted to be able to contribute to the BBC Radio Orkney hustings and I know that pupils relished the opportunity to put their questions to the candidates.”

Dave Gray is the Senior Producer at BBC Radio Orkney. He said: “When we went to KGS and Stromness Academy and asked if any students who were potential voters would like to put questions straight to the candidates, the response was fantastic. We recorded about twenty brilliant questions from pupils and have played them directly to the candidates. The schools were helpful and enthusiastic and I hope that the pupils enjoyed having their questions on the radio.”

The local Council elections take place on 4 May, with polling stations open from 7.00am to 10.00pm. The electronic count takes place on 5 May, with results expected before lunchtime. 

The #ReadytoVote campaign is aimed at preparing pupils for this and helping them become engaged in the political process. The campaign aims to raise awareness of 16 -17 year olds’ entitlement to vote, support eligible students to register to vote and inform students about the local candidates.