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School operations

School Council — Composition and Office Bearers

Policy

This policy sets out school council composition requirements (including membership categories) and the roles and responsibilities of office bearer positions.

Summary

  • Ministerial Order 1280 Constitution of Government School Councils specifies the total size of the council and the number of members in each school council membership category.
  • School councils comprise mandatory membership categories: parents, school employees and for schools with a Year 7 cohort or above, students (unless the school has a student category exemption).
  • School councils may also co-opt community members to the council
  • It is mandatory to have a school council president, and an executive officer (the principal).
  • School councils must apply to the Department to change their size or composition.

Details

School councils comprise parents, the principal, staff, and students if the school has enrolments in Year 7 and above. Many school councils also have community members.

Ministerial Order 1280 Constitution of Government School Councils specifies the total size of the council and the number of members in each school council membership category.

Government schools with a student cohort of Year 7 and above will have 2 student positions on school council, unless the school has received an exemption from the Regional Director in relation to the student membership requirements.

Other members can be co-opted by the council within the limits of Ministerial Order 1280 Constitution of Government School Councils.

Membership categories

School councils are made up of the following membership categories.

A mandated elected parent category

Parent members must comprise more than one-third of the school council's total membership as detailed inMinisterial Order 1280 Constitution of Government School Councils. Parent members within this category are elected by parents of students currently at the school.

'Parent' includes a guardian or person with parental responsibility for the student. A parent of a student at the school who is a Department of Education and Training employee but does not work at or for the school is included in the parent electorate. These parents are classified on school council as ‘Department employee parents’.

If a Department employee is elected to the parent category (Department employee parent) of the school where their child is enrolled but where they do not work, they are counted in the Department employee category for school council meeting quorum requirements.

A parent who works at the school for more than 8 hours per week, either as an ongoing employee or on a fixed-term of 90 days or more will be in the Department employee category.

A parent member of school council whose child no longer attends the school is no longer eligible to serve as a parent member. However, if the child finishes school at the end of a normal school year, the parent may continue on the council until the next election, at the beginning of the next year.

A mandated elected school employee category

Members of the school employee member category make up no more than one third of council membership according toMinisterial Order 1280 Constitution of Government School Councils.

School employee members are elected by employees at the school, except for the principal who is an automatic school employee member of school council as the council’s executive officer.

Members under the school employee category include the principal of the school and Department employees engaged in work at, and for, the school. The principal and Department employees of a school are, and can only be, school employee members of the school council.

‘Department employee’:

  1. means a person employed:
    1. under Part 2.4 of the Education and Training Reform Act (2006) or by the Secretary under the Public Administration Act 2004 or
    2. for 8 hours or more per week in either an ongoing capacity or a fixed term of at least 90 days
  2. includes a person employed by a school council of a government school (for example, maintenance or grounds person, cleaner) for 8 hours or more per week in either an ongoing capacity or for a fixed term of at least 90 days.

Note: A person who works at the school as a contractor or an employee of a contractor, for example, a parent employed by a company to manage the school canteen, is not a Department employee.

For all government schools with a Year 7 cohort and above, a mandated student member category (2 positions)

To be eligible to run in the student member category, that person must be a student enrolled in Year 7 or above at the school where they are seeking to be on council. There is no minimum age requirement. These members are elected by all students enrolled in Year 7 or above at the school.

Student members of school council have the same role and responsibilities as other council members including full voting rights. However, student members are not eligible to hold any office bearer position.

If a Year 12 student, who has been elected to the student member category, has completed the normal school year and ceases to be enrolled at the school, that student may continue to be a member of the council until the next council election, at the beginning of the next year.

An optional community member category

The community member category is an optional category for school councils. Community members are co-opted onto council, usually at the first meeting of the newly elected council. Community members:

  • cannot be Department employees
  • typically bring special skills, interests or experience to the council including:
    • members from parent clubs
    • accountants, digital technology skills, project management.

Community members generally have the same rights, responsibilities and terms of office as elected members unless otherwise provided in Ministerial Order 1280 Constitution of Government School Councils.

Nominee member category

A very small number of school councils have a nominee member category. Nominee members are appointed by organisations authorised by the Minister for Education. Principals with nominee members on school council should review the terms of appointment of the nominees at the start of each school year and action as required.

Nominee members generally have the same rights, responsibilities and terms of office as elected members unless otherwise provided in Ministerial Order 1280 Constitution of Government School Councils.

Student member category — alternative arrangement requirements

Certain secondary schools may be eligible to determine whether it is practical to have mandated student positions on their school council. This includes special, small and rural schools. For information for seeking an exemption to the student member category requirement, refer to: School Council — Elections.

Terms of office on school council

School council members are elected (or co-opted, in the case of community members) for approximately a 2 year term.

Usually half the membership expires each year creating vacancies for the annual school council election.

The terms of office of community or co-opted members are the same as those of elected councillors.

Office bearers: School council positions of responsibility

Office bearers are elected by school council members at the first council meeting after the declaration of the election poll.

Office bearers hold office until they resign as an office bearer or until they cease to hold office as a council member or until the next election of office bearers, whichever occurs first.  

Office bearers serve a one-year term of office. Student members are ineligible to hold an office bearer position.

School councils must include these positions:

  • President: parent member (non-Department employee) or community member who is chairperson of school council meetings
  • Executive officer: the principal.

Other positions may include:

  • Vice president: parent member (non-Department employee) or community member.
  • Treasurer: elected from council members, preferably a parent member or community member. The business manager/bursar cannot hold this position. The treasurer may also be appointed as the convenor of the finance subcommittee.
  • Minute taker/secretary: the councillor undertaking this role records the actions and discussion in council meetings. It can be filled by any member of school council (other than a student member) or a non-council member. If this role is filled by a non-council member, this person is required to be a silent observer and has no voting rights.

Role of principal as executive officer of school council

The principal, as an ex-officio member and executive officer of school council, is included in the school employee category. The principal is responsible for:

  • providing council with timely advice about educational and other matters
  • preparing the council’s agenda in consultation with the president
  • reporting regularly to council about the school’s performance against the school strategic plan
  • ensuring council decisions are acted on
  • providing adequate support and resources for the conduct of council meetings
  • communicating with the school council president about council business
  • ensuring that new council members are inducted
  • liaising with the Department about school council related matters.

Role of the school council president

The role of the school council president is to:

  • effectively chair school council meetings (ensure that everyone has a say in meetings and that decisions are properly understood and well-recorded)
  • be a signatory to contracts, the school strategic plan and financial accounts
  • together with the school council, endorse the school pre-review self-evaluation, terms of reference for the school review, school strategic plan, annual implementation plan and annual report and communicate this information to the school community
  • ensure school council stays focused on improving student outcomes
  • with the principal, be school council’s spokesperson and official representative on public occasions
  • with the principal, confirm in the school’s annual report that the school has met VRQA registration requirements
  • when votes are tied, have a second or casting vote
  • access email communications each week from the Department through the president’s Education Mail account and communicate these to school council members where relevant.

Casual vacancies

 A casual vacancy arises (Division 6 Clause 24.1,Ministerial Order 1280 Constitution of Government School Councils) when a council member:

  • dies
  • becomes insolvent under administration
  • becomes of unsound mind
  • resigns in writing to the school principal or school council president
  • is found guilty or convicted of an indictable offence or an offence that would be an indicatable offence if it had been committed in Victoria
  • is a registrable offender within the meaning of the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 (Vic)
  • is subject to any medical condition that would make them unable to fulfil the role of a member of school council
  • ceases to be eligible for election or co-option to their membership category
  • is absent from three consecutive school council meetings without prior special leave being granted by the school council and subject to a school council decision
  • in the school employee member category takes leave from employment with the Department (including secondment) for more than 6 months
  • in the parent member category becomes a Department employee during their term of office where that causes the school council to be in breach of its constituting Order
  • in the student member category goes on any form of leave from the school (including an exchange) for a period of more than 6 months
  • in the community member category becomes a student member during their term of office
  • who is a member of another membership category, is appointed as a nominee member of the school council
  • who is a nominee member becomes a parent member, school employee member, or community member of the school council
  • is found to have been ineligible for election, co-option, or appointment to the council at the time of their election, co-option, or appointment.

A casual vacancy is filled by the council co-opting a person who is eligible for election to the membership category in which the vacancy has arisen. The co-opted member serves the unexpired portion of the vacating member’s term of office.

For further information on each membership category for the purposes of school council election process, refer to School Council — Elections.

Changing school council size and composition

To change its membership size and composition the school council must:

A council may approve a change to its total number of members and/or its composition only once in any 12 month period.

School councils are unable to alter the number of student members on council. This category is fixed at 2 members.

The Department’s School Operations and Governance Unit are available to support schools with any school council related matter. 

Relevant legislation

Department policy outlining school council composition requirements (including membership categories) and the roles and responsibilities of office bearers

Reviewed 10 January 2022

Policy last updated

10 January 2022

Scope

  • Schools
  • School councils

Contact

School Operations and Governance Unit

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