Scots are not the only ones heading to the polls today as Manchester Grammar School (MGS) students cast their own vote on independence – and ‘No’ came out as the winner.
The mock referendum, which involved 1,500 pupils aged seven to 18 and 300 teachers, saw the school transformed into a polling station between 8am and 5pm.
A majority of 853 voted against granting Scotland independence while 281 backed the move with a turnout of 64%.
Richard Kelly, Head of Politics at MGS, said: “It was always a likely that it was going to be a no vote and so it proved, but the number of students who voted yes was surprising.
“I spoke to some of the students who voted and I think they voted yes for the same reason as those who are doing so in Scotland today.
“There is much disillusionment within Scotland and many felt the same need for constitutional change in England. I was surprised at the amount of alienation many felt, which is the same as in Scotland.
“A lot of students felt overlooked by those in London and the South East.”
Among the students, the split was less apparent as the age of pupils increased with an 83:17% vote in favour of ‘no’ for junior school – but only a discrepancy of 56:39% in sixth form out of a 56% turnout.
There was no such indecision among staff with 90% of teachers and other workers voting in favour of keeping the union together.
* Turnout was 69% among teaching staff
Richard believes that even though the issue doesn’t go south of Gretna, it does affect everyone.
He said: “MGS takes the political education of its pupils seriously and it’s important to acknowledge historic events such as this.
“Also, even though this is a Scottish vote on a ‘Scottish matter’ we believe that the effects will be widely felt across the entire UK, and affect the future of all of our students.
“Voting is quite an important thing and if you want change you have to get involved. It’s important to make students aware there is more to life outside the walls of the school.
“The last time we held a ballot at MGS it was on the Alternative Vote in 2011. Interestingly, the results and turn-out of that vote mirrored exactly the results and turnout percentage nationally.”
As part of the exercise, the school will now analyse the voting patterns in different year groups of pupils, as well as among staff.
Over the last fortnight, there has been a ‘Yes or No’ campaign run by A-Level Politics students, with students arguing for either side.
The campaigns have included assemblies as well as discussions being held at school clubs such as the Politics Society.
The two sides have mimicked the campaigns run north of the border by Scottish National Party Alex Salmond and Better Together’s Alistair Darling.
Scottish A-Level student Ross McDonald said: “It has been an extremely vibrant campaign and it has enabled pupils and staff alike to engage with the political agenda.
“We have Scottish pupils and staff at the school and this will be our only chance to vote on an issue which affects our nation.”
More than four million Scots are expected to vote in today’s referendum – making it one of the country’s busiest voting days in their history.
Recent polls have shown the two sides to be neck-and-neck with no more than a couple of percent separating them.