What is a school council and what does it do?
All government schools in Victoria have a school council. They are legally constituted bodies that are given powers to set the broad directions of a school in accordance with their constituting Order and the Education and Training Reform Act 2006. In doing this, a school council is able to directly influence the quality of education that the school provides for its students.
Who is on the school council?
For most primary school councils, there are three possible categories of membership:
- A mandated elected Parent member category – more than one-third of the total members must be from this category. DET employees can be Parent members at their child’s school as long as they are not engaged in work at the school
- A mandated elected DET employee member category – members of this category may make up no more than one-third of the total membership of school council. The principal of the school is automatically one of these members
- An optional Community member category – members are co-opted by a decision of the council because of their special skills, interests or experiences. DET employees are not eligible to be Community members.
- For all schools with a year 7 and above cohort, there is a fourth category of membership:
- A mandated elected Student member category, 2 positions.
Generally, the term of office for all members is two years. The term of office of half the members expires each year, creating vacancies for the annual school council elections.
Why is parent membership so important?
Parents on school councils provide important viewpoints and have valuable skills that can help inform and shape the direction of the school.
Those parents who become active on a school council find their involvement satisfying and may also find that their children feel a greater sense of belonging.
Why is Student membership so important?
Students have a unique perspective on learning, teaching and schools. Having student members on school council allows students to have a say in the future direction of their school and ensures student input into decision making.
Student representation on secondary school councils will assist in the development of students’ skills, including leadership skills and communication skills.
Do I need special experience to be on school council?
Each member brings their own valuable life skills and knowledge to the role. However, councillors may need to develop skills and acquire knowledge in areas that are unfamiliar to them. What you do need is an interest in your child’s school and the desire to work in partnership with others to help shape the school’s future.
How can you become involved?
The most obvious way is to vote in the school council elections, which are held in Term 1 each year. However, ballots are only held if more people nominate as candidates than there are positions vacant.
In view of this, you might consider:
- standing for election as a member of the school council
- encouraging another person to stand for election.
What do you need to do to stand for election?
The principal will issue a Notice of Election and Call for Nominations following the commencement of Term 1 each year. All school council elections must be completed by the end of March unless the usual time line has been varied by the Minister.
If you decide to stand for election, you can arrange for someone to nominate you as a candidate or you can nominate yourself in the Parent member category.
DET employees whose child is enrolled in a school in which they are not engaged in work, are eligible to nominate for Parent membership of the school council at that school.
Once the nomination form is completed, return it to the principal within the time stated on the Notice of Election. You will receive a Nomination Form Receipt via post, email or by hand following the receipt of your completed nomination.
If there are more nominations received than there are vacancies on council, a ballot will be conducted during the two weeks after the call for nominations has closed.
- Consider standing for election to school council this year.
- Ask at the school for help if you would like to stand for election and are not sure what to do.
- Be sure to vote in the elections.