Role of the school council

For the majority of schools, the school council is responsible for recommending to the Secretary a person to fill a vacant principal position. Schedule 1 of Ministerial Order 1006 sets out the role of the school council in the selection process.

Where a principal position becomes vacant or is about to become vacant, the Regional Director will approve the timing of the advertisement of the vacancy in consultation with the school council president. The Regional Director is responsible for nominating the Secretary’s nominees to the selection panel (one of whom will be a practising principal with relevant experience) and advising the school council president of the names of the nominees.

Prior to the advertisement

Following the Regional Director’s approval of the timing of the advertisement, the role of the school council is to:

  • prepare a school profile statement for inclusion in the position description. The purpose of the school profile is to provide potential applicants with information about the school and the school community. Examples of information that can be provided in the profile include the size of the school, geographic location, priority programs and the school’s web address, where applicants can access additional information,
  • prepare a community criterion (optional) for inclusion in the position description. The addition of a community criterion provides an opportunity for the school council (or committee if there is no school council) to frame a criterion informed by the specific context and leadership needs of the school. While the addition of a community criterion is not mandatory, it is strongly recommended. Any criterion developed must be clear, objective and relevant and must not contravene the requirements of any Ministerial Order, regulations or relevant legislation such as the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and the Public Administration Act 2004
  • provide the school profile statement and the community criterion to the Regional Director. The Regional Director will notify the Schools Recruitment Unit of the details to enable the vacancy to be advertised on Recruitment Online, and
  • establish the selection panel

Establishing the selection panel

The purpose of the selection panel is to recommend to school council the best applicant on the basis of the evidence available. The effectiveness of the decision making will ultimately rest on the panel’s ability to objectively assess each applicant’s skills, knowledge and capacity and to define, articulate and reach agreement about the nature of leadership required to lead their school effectively.

Major determinants of the credibility of any selection process are the attitudes, skills, and experience of members of the selection panel and their ability to bring alternative points of view to the selection process. When establishing the selection panel, consideration should be given to including members who between them can bring to the process:

  • a comprehensive understanding of the school’s profile and resource base
  • knowledge of the school culture and future directions
  • an understanding of the expertise, knowledge and attributes required to successfully undertake the role of principal
  • an appreciation of the contributions principals can make to the wider school system, and
  • expertise in and an understanding of the selection process

Schedule 1 of Ministerial Order 1006External Link sets out the composition of the principal selection panel. It is the responsibility of both the school council and the Department to ensure:

  • at least 1 member of the panel is a person trained by the Merit Protection Boards in the principles of merit and equity,
  • provision is made for gender representation, and
  • unless otherwise approved, no panel member is an applicant for a principal position advertised at the same time

Panel members are to avoid any actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest in the selection process including the selection decision. A conflict may arise where it could be reasonably perceived that a panel member is influenced by the private interest of facilitating employment (for example, the employment of a family member or associate). Where there could be a perception of possible favouritism and bias, to mitigate the risk the panel member should remove themselves from the selection process and, or selection decision. A panel member who considers they may have a conflict of interest must declare their conflict of interest and any steps taken to manage the conflict. Further information is available on Conflict of Interest on the Schools Policy and Advisory Library.

The school council president must inform all council members that any involvement in the selection process renders them ineligible to be an applicant for the principal position in that school or any other principal position advertised at the same time.

The school council president should ensure that each selection panel member receives a copy of this Guide, Schedule 3 of Ministerial Order 1006 and arrange for the panel members to sign the Selection Panel Confidentiality Statement. The council may issue further instructions to the selection panel but such instructions must be consistent with those contained in Schedule 3 of Ministerial Order 1006.

Consideration of the selection panel’s report

On receipt of the selection panel’s report, the school council is required to consider the recommendation of the selection panel at a school council meeting (either a regular or an extraordinary meeting), attended by members of school council and the principal selection panel. No applicant for the position, including non-shortlisted applicants, should be present at the school council meeting or that part of a school council meeting where the report is tabled and discussed.

All individuals present at the school council meeting at which the selection panel report is tabled should be requested by the school council president to sign the School Council Confidentiality Statement.

Following consideration of the selection panel’s report the school council may:

  • accept the selection panel recommendation and refer the recommendation to the Secretary, or
  • refer the selection panel recommendation back to the panel for further consideration, or
  • refer the matter to the Secretary indicating that there was no suitable appointee, the selection panel was unable to reach a majority decision, or the school council disagrees with the selection panel recommendation. Where the school council does not agree with the selection panel recommendation the school council should include the grounds for this disagreement

The completed Principal Selection Panel Report should be emailed to or mailed to:

The Manager
Schools Recruitment Unit
Department of Education and Training
GPO Box 4367

Applicants should not be advised of any selection decision until the Secretary (or delegate) has considered the selection panel’s recommendation and determined the selection outcome.

Schools without a school council

In new schools or established schools without a school council, Schedule 2 of Ministerial Order 1006 provides that the committee representing the local community shall be the selection panel. Schedule 2 sets out the composition of the selection panel and sets out the procedures to be followed in making a recommendation to the Secretary. In this case the selection panel will undertake the tasks described above in accordance with Schedule 2 of Ministerial Order 1006.

This chapter of the Principal Selection Guidelines is about the role of the school council and the regional director. It also covers the establishment of a selection panel.

Reviewed 17 March 2024

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