Meeting protocols

School council meetings should be:

  • conducted in accordance with the school council’s Standing Orders
  • chaired by:
    • the president of the school council or
    • the principal as executive office of council at the first school council meeting of the new council to appoint community members and elect office bearers chaired or
    • the vice-president
      • if the president of the school council is unable to preside, and
      • if a vice-president has been appointed by the school council, or
    • a member of the school council (other than a Department employee member) decided by the council
      • if the school council has not appointed a vice-president, or
      • the vice-president is unable to preside at the meeting
  • provided support and resources for the conduct of meetings by the principal as the executive officer of school council
  • open to the school community
    • visitors or observers can be present at a council meeting with the agreement of the principal and a decision of council
    • there may be times when, for the purpose of confidentiality or other reasons, a council meeting needs to be closed and the school council determines the need for a closed meeting


The agenda lists the business that school council will consider at the meeting. Some items are for information only, some for discussion and others for decision.

Meeting papers should be sent approximately 5 days (when possible) prior to the meeting date to:

  • allow school council members to reflect on the issues
  • gather more information if necessary, and
  • canvass the opinions of school community members, where applicable

Most information regarding agenda topics to be discussed in council meetings will be provided by the principal or in reports from relevant individuals or subcommittees.

In order to avoid the agenda being crowded with too much business, a significant amount of work may be undertaken by subcommittees.

Reports from the subcommittees can

  • provide information and recommendations to council, and
  • are considered at council meetings when appropriate

Further information on school council sub-committees is available at School Council Subcommittees.

School councils may use the school council sample agenda and minutes template (DOCX)External Link — also available on the Resources tab.


School council minutes must be taken and should record:

  • the type of meeting (regular, extraordinary or public)
  • date, time and venue of meeting
  • names of attendees (including visitors) and apologies received from members
  • the name of presiding officer
  • the business of the meeting including the decision on the minutes of the previous meeting, inward and outward correspondence and reports of any subcommittees tabled at the meeting
  • decisions of the meeting including motions and any amendments, names of movers and seconders
  • whether the motion was carried or rejected
  • the number of votes for and against
  • the resulting actions required and when the actions or activities are completed

The minutes of the school council meeting should be:

  • written up under the agenda item headings
  • circulated by the principal prior to the next meeting of council
  • confirmed as accurate at the next school council meeting, and
  • signed by the school council president or the person who presides at the meeting

There is no right-of-access to the minutes of a school council meeting under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic)External Link . However, the school community should be kept informed of school council matters by way of:

  • a report in the school newsletter
  • a digital communication system and/or
  • the school website

School council may use the school council sample agenda and meeting minutes template (DOCX)External Link — also available on the Resources tab.


School councils make decisions by a majority vote of eligible members who are present (including the principal) at a council meeting.

Generally, the process for voting on a decision involves the following:

  • A member of school council (typically the president but can be any member of council) asks the school council members to approve or agree to a particular issue or decision.
  • This request is called a ‘motion’. An example of a motion is: 'that the school council approves the expenditure of $ ... for the purchase of ... as detailed in the quote presented by ... to council.'
  • The chairperson will ask for another member of school council to 'second' the motion to be presented to school council.
  • All school council members will be asked to vote on whether or not to approve (‘pass’) the motion.
  • The voting will determine if the motion is accepted or not, based on the majority of votes indicated by members present at the meeting.

Voting can occur by a show of hands or verbally and can be done in person or via videoconference or teleconference. Where school council decides voting is to be anonymous, members may vote on paper or by text or email sent to a designated vote receiver, provided votes are sent and received during the meeting. Records should be kept to facilitate checking if necessary.

If votes are tied, the presiding member has a second or casting vote.

A school councillor’s temporary absence due to a conflict of interest in a matter under discussion and decision-making does not affect the meeting quorum.

For a school council decision to be valid, the meeting must have a quorum. Proxies cannot be used, nor can decisions be ratified by email or any other electronic means, outside the meeting time.

The number of votes, both for and against the motion, will be recorded in the minutes.

Length of meetings

School council meetings should require no longer than 2.5 hours, regardless of the setting.

If business has not been concluded by the scheduled closing time for the meeting, the chairperson should ask councillors whether they wish to:

  • defer the rest of the business until the next meeting, or
  • to extend the meeting by a specified period of time, for example: 15 minutes
    • a motion is necessary if school council wants to extend the meeting

Conflict of interest

A conflict of interest occurs when a school councillor’s personal interests may influence, or may be seen to influence, their role and decision-making on council.

  • Personal interests can also be pecuniary (financial) or non-pecuniary. Potential conflicts of interest occur where an actual conflict of interest may arise in the future.
  • Perceived conflicts of interest occur where a reasonable person might suspect that a school councillor is subject to a real conflict of interest, whether or not one actually exists.

Councillors are obliged to identify these risks and take action in consultation with the principal and the president to mitigate them.

For further information, see School Council — Conduct and Conflict of Interest.

Code of Conduct

School councils in Victoria are public entities as defined by the Public Administration Act 2004 (Vic)External Link . School councillors must abide by the 2016 Directors’ Code of Conduct issued by the Victorian Public Sector Commission.

The Code of Conduct is based on the Victorian public sector values:

  • responsiveness
  • integrity
  • impartiality
  • accountability
  • respect
  • leadership, and
  • human rights

The Code of Conduct and values underpin the behaviours that the government and community expect of all directors of public entities, including school council members.

Further details on the Code of Conduct, including preventing and managing school council conduct issues, can be found in the School Council — Conduct and Conflict of Interest.

Guidance chapter on school council meeting protocols including agendas, minutes, decision-making and length of meetings

Reviewed 13 February 2024

Was this page helpful?