A voting box bearing a religious symbol

Edinburgh Council delays decision on religious votes over schools

August 22, 2019

Edinburgh Council was due to take the decision on whether to maintain the unique position of certain faith groups on how the city’s schools are run. However, after debate, the council decided to delay the decision until November.

The failure to decide was met with disappointment from Humanist Society Scotland. The charity – whose ‘Fair School Votes’ campaign has been calling for an end to the imbalance of say on local education committees – said that this decision continues the ‘democratic deficit and religious imbalance’ on how schools are run.

Edinburgh City Councillors already delayed the decision earlier this year because of a perceived threat of legal action on Perth and Kinross Council after they took a similar decision – which never materialised.

Commenting on the further delay, Humanist Society Scotland Chief Executive, Fraser Sutherland, who spoke at today’s council meeting, said:

It’s disappointing that councillors today didn’t reach a decision despite clear legal advice and arguments put before them. We will of course continue to engage with the council on this important issue ahead of any future decision.

“The current system – which allows three representatives of religious groups the right to vote on how schools are run – is completely outdated and undemocratic. The fact that over half of Edinburgh’s population has no religious beliefs makes this even more jarring. It also freezes out members of minority religious communities in Edinburgh from the decision making process.

Parents, teachers and pupils all have less say on how their schools are run than three religious groups. This is entirely undefendable in the 21st Century. There is a democratic deficit and religious imbalance in the current setup which must change.

Fraser Sutherland, Humanist Society Scotland

To find out more about the Fair School Votes campaign, visit: www.humanism.scot/fairschoolvotes

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