More than 100 pupils from schools across East Dunbartonshire were given a crash course in Scottish public affairs with a unique conference at Bearsden Academy.
The East Dunbartonshire Youth Council (EDYC) held their Youth Summit last Friday to discuss the roots of democracy and the mechanics of modern elections.
Naturally, the upcoming referendum was also on the agenda and the headline debate featured some well-known public figures who traded blows on the consequences of a ‘yes’ vote.
Former Scottish Conservative Leader Annabel Goldie MSP joined local Labour councillor Gemma Welsh for a spirited defence of the Union.
On the other side was SNP MSP Fiona McLeod, along with the Greens’ representative Ross Greer — a former pupil at Bearsden Academy.
Struan Johnston, convener of the EDYC, felt the event raised the political awareness of the pupils and helped to provide a brief treatise on the independence debate.
He said: “This Youth Summit was a great opportunity for the EDYC to engage with young people on a range of issues and to provide a platform where young people’s voices were heard.
“We are glad that we have made an impact on informing young people on the importance of voting and in particular in the upcoming referendum.”
The award-winning debate team from Douglas Academy also took the floor to discuss the Importance of Voting, followed by a presentation from the council’s Diane Campbell on how elections are conducted.
After the referendum debate, young people were asked to vote on how useful they found the event.
The poll showed that 83% of the audience now feel capable of making an informed decision in September, while 15% say the event had persuaded them to change their vote.
Councillor Eric Gotts, convener of the council’s Education Committee, added: “The programme for the day promised to address some meaty current issues and the young people who contributed did not disappoint. Discussions throughout the day were very spirited and showed just how well informed our young people are about the referendum and politics in general.”
The EDYC is an elected body, representing the collective voice of young people in the area.