Guidance on school council powers and functions
This guidance provides information on the application of school council powers and functions, across a range of common school council activities, with links to further information specific to each activity, where available.
School councils are responsible for the oversight of school buildings and grounds, and ensuring they are kept in good condition.
For further information on school council asset management responsibilities, refer to:
- inform themselves of the views of the school community when making decisions
- stimulate interest in the school within the wider community
The school community primarily includes:
- students, and
- parents and carers
It may also include:
- early childhood services
- service clubs
- organisations, or
School councils can also play an important role in consulting with and representing the views of the school community, when required, to support the principal in school-based decision-making.
School councils must:
- provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health for all, employees, independent contractors and contractor’s employees
- ensure that contractors are competent and able to control their own systems of work
- retain a general supervisory power over any work undertaken by a contractor
- define the contractor’s respective areas of responsibility, particularly where there is more than one contractor involved
- examine carefully the contractual arrangements, and
- ensure that the activities undertaken do not put staff, students or the contractors at risk
When engaging contractors, school councils must ensure that the school complies with:
The Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic) allocates the following financial activities to school councils:
- managing the school’s budget as it relates to running the school. Note: principals are responsible for budgeting for their school’s teaching staff, in collaboration with the Department
- entering into contracts and agreements
- maintaining property
- authorising payments
- raising funds
It is a legal requirement that school councils ensure that funds coming into the school council are being properly used and authorised. Most schools have a which handles many of the school council’s routine financial responsibilities including the development of the annual budget.
The finance subcommittee typically presents the annual budget to the school council for discussion and approval. For more information, refer to:
School councils hold a duty under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) to ensure that the school, as a workplace, is, so far as reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health.
This means that the duty will extend to all matters over which school council has management and control.
This includes matters such as:
- engagement of goods and services
- oversight of the management of contracts, and
- the maintenance of school buildings, grounds and facilities
The duty extends to all persons affected by the conduct of the school, including:
- visitors, and
For further information, refer to:
School council decides whether to:
- establish a service, or
- change operating models or service provider
A council that oversees or operates an outside school hours care (OSHC) or kindergarten service must:
- ensure the service complies with Department policy and relevant laws.
The school council has responsibility for approving school-level parent payment arrangements. Parent Payment arrangements include payment requests to parents for items and activities, financial support options for parents experiencing financial hardship and payment methods.
Schools must use the to develop their parent payments and have this approved by their school council prior to communicating it to parents. Once school councils have approved the parent payment arrangements, schools must also upload these arrangements onto their school website for transparency.
- The school council can play a valuable role in developing selected school policies and supporting the school principal to understand and consider the views of the school community where appropriate.
- School principals are responsible for operational school policies, procedures and decisions. There are a small number of policies that must be developed and approved by the school council because of legal or Department policy requirements (for example, student dress codes, parent payment policies and finance policies).
- For other local school policies, the principal may choose to seek school council approval of a policy (even where there is no legal or other requirement to do so), may consult with the school council during the policy development phase or may present policies to the school council for noting.
The (login required) is a resource for principals, school council presidents and school staff. The portal provides policy templates for Victorian government schools to download and modify to suit local needs and priorities.
On request from the Regional Director, the school council president may also provide input to principal contract renewal discussions.
The president advises the school council of that input at the next school council meeting.
A school council can purchase goods, equipment and materials for carrying out its functions, subject to Part 2.3 of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic).
When purchasing goods, equipment and materials school councils must ensure that the school complies with
School councils play an important role in school strategic planning and reporting.
- — a 4-year plan for school improvement, completed by schools after their school review. When completed, the school strategic plan is endorsed by school council, signed by the principal and school council president and submitted to the Secretary for approval.
- — outlines how the strategic plan will be implemented, monitored and evaluated. The school council president endorses the plan in SPOT, on behalf of the school council.
- — detailing the school’s financial activities, workforce composition and performance. Annual reports are endorsed by school council and signed by both the principal and school council president. They are made available to the school community at a public reporting meeting organised by the school principal, and published on the Victorian Regulation and Qualifications Authority State Register.
Reviewed 08 November 2023