What is a School Council?
All government schools in Victoria have a school council. The school council is the group of people who are given the power to set the key directions for the school. This means that school council can directly influence the quality of education that a school provides to its students. School council also makes sure that the school is running effectively in terms of how it spends its money and the guidelines it makes for how the school is to work.
School Council Membership
There are three types of membership on school council:
- Parent members – more than one third of school council members must be parents.
- DEECD employee members – the principal is included as a DEECD staff member and has full voting rights
- Community members – this is optional and these positions are co-opted, rather than elected at the discretion of the school council depending on required skills.
Term of Office
- School council members are elected for a two year term or co-opted in the case of community members.
- Half the membership is elected or co-opted each year and this creates vacancies for the yearly school council elections which are held in March.
The Role of School Council
In essence, the role is one of setting the long term future for the school and maintaining oversight of the school's operation. It is not about running the school, employing staff or assigning children to classes – that is the job of the principal.
Three of the critical roles include:
- developing the strategic plan
- approving the annual budget, and
- setting and reviewing policies.
Other roles include:
- raising money for things that the school needs;
- making sure the school’s grounds and buildings are maintained;
- entering into contracts for things like cleaning the school or a school council building project; &
- creating interest in the school within the community.
The School Council of Rolling Hills Primary School has the following sub-committees:
- Finance- development of annual budget and presentation to school council for approval, monitoring of expenditure and reporting this to school council;
- School Development- planning and developing the school's facilities, organising working bees and other actions to maintain or improve the appearance of the school;
- Education- developing the educational policy for school council, possibly monitoring the implementation of the strategic plan, and reviewing school data;
- Marketing- developing ways for the school to work more actively with its community, both parents/carers and the wider community;
- OSHCare- to ensure it is running effectively and legally; and
- Canteen- overseeing the school canteen, development of policy e.g. healthy eating policy.
Note: You do not have to be a school councillor to sit on a sub-committee. Non school council parents are very welcome to join sub-committees.
Do I have what it takes to be on School Council?
- You need to be keen but you don’t need to be an expert.
- It helps if you like people and you do need to be able to work as a team member.
- School councils work best when people from a variety of different backgrounds and who have different experiences come together as a team.
- You do need to be prepared to commit the time and effort needed to ensure the work of council gets done.
Why join School Council?
- Being on school council is a great way to get involved and have a real say in what your school is doing for its students.
- Being on school council is a very good way to help present and future students of the school. One of the roles of school council is to help set the future direction for the school.
- Many school councillors have also found that their children have a greater sense of belonging within the school.
Some notes about elections...
- The principal arranges and conducts the elections according to strict governance guidelines outlined in the schools constituting Order, and in the Principals’ Guide to School Council Elections.
- These are held in March each year.
- If you decide to stand for election, you can arrange for someone to nominate you as a candidate or you can nominate yourself.
- Your form needs to be returned within the time stated on the notice of election.
- Ballots are only held if more people nominate as candidates than there are positions to fill.
- Make sure you vote and encourage other parents to do the same.
Where can I find out more?
To find out more about what school council involves, talk with:
- The Principal- Robyn English
- School Council President – Fleur Cousins
- Past and present school councillors
- http://www.education.vic.gov.au/management/governance/schoolcouncils/role.htm (What is a school council and what does it do?)