Plans to give Edinburgh pupils stronger voice at council

PUPIL power could be on its way to the City Chambers under fresh plans to give students a louder voice in key council decisions.

Tuesday, 30th May 2017, 10:11 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 7:54 pm
Lindsay Law and her two daughters Josie 12 and Laurie 10. Picture; Neil Hanna

Proposals being put forward by the Capital’s Green contingent would see a student elected to represent their peers on the city’s education committee.

The move comes four years after the committee was joined by its very first parent equivalent, who has now come out in support of the idea.

It was back in 2013 that Lindsay Law, then chair of Broughton Primary School’s parent council, attended her first education, children and families committee as its new parent representative.

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The mum-of-two juggled her three-year tenure with a full-time job in finance, and is now vice-chair of Flora Stevenson Primary School’s parent council and convener of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC).

Lindsay, 38, said having a pupil on board would help ensure schoolchildren were put first during the decision-­making process.

She said: “I think it’s quite rare that people making policy decisions in education talk to the direct recipient, those who will be actively affected.

“It’s really important to have a pupil representative to give children a louder voice and to act as a visible reminder to 
everyone that the purpose of the committee and of education is the children and the future of the children. It will allow the committee to hear from pupils but it also sends a message to the next generation that participating in local and national democracy is worthwhile.

“It’s not just having a voice on the committee, it’s starting a conversation in schools across the city which encourages people of all ages to participate in local democracy and that’s what I think would be really powerful.”

While the concept is still in its early stages, if it was given the go-ahead it is expected the pupil rep would likely come from one of the Capital’s 23 high schools.

It is hoped students – perhaps those already involved in pupil councils – would be keen to put themselves forward and that the eventual position could be decided by a vote.

Melanie Main, education spokeswoman for the Greens, said it was vital young people felt their voices were being heard.

She said: “Education shouldn’t be something that’s done to people, it’s done with them and on the premise of that we want them to be involved.

“It’s very important that we recognise it’s not new – there are other parts of Scotland where they have had a young person on an education committee for a long time.

“Young people have the right to be listened to and to have their views heard.”