DEECD Improving School Governance

30 04 2012

This session was held at the Loddon Mallee Regional Office on Monday 30th of April 2012 from 7.00pm to 9.00pm.  Peter Howlett presented the session.

This was an valuable session reinforcing some known details and providing details I had either not known about or had only a limited understanding of.

Importantly we were provided with a folder containing a number of key documents describing the function of school councils.  The majority of the session focused on what is covered in the induction section of the material. An electronic copy of the induction material can be found here at:  This site also contains electronic copies of the Finance, Policy Development and Review, and the Strategic Planning section. 

What are some things I learnt form the presentation

  1. School Councils no longer have AGMs.  Peter made a point of this although the module doesn’t specifically mention this. Peter clarified this is really now “The first meeting of the new council” and as such really just a name change.  Details are covered on page 23 of the Principal’s Guide to School Council Elections 2012.
  2. A Quorum requires not less than one half of school council members currently holding office, with a majority being not Department employees. Members can be present via tele or video conferencing.
  3. It was suggested that school councils should have a code of conduct for councillors and that this be part of the council’s “Standing Orders”.
  4. Subcommittees don’t decide anything.  They only require one council member and their task is to recommend things to the school council.
  5. School council members are not legally liable for anything if acting in good faith.
  6. When making decisions school council should consider the decision in reference to the Strategic Plan and Annual Implementation Plan.
  7. It’s a good idea to have the Strategic and Annual Implementation plan present for council meetings.
  8. Agenda is set by the Principal and President the week before each meeting.
  9. Although not covered in the written Induction document Peter made the point of ensuring that all parents going on an overnight excursion should have a WWC card.  This though is not government policy.
  10. . Don’t accept any excursion not on DEECD’s pro-forma for excursions.
  11. . It was suggested that at the beginning of the year parents be advised of “voluntary accident insurance” options through the newsletter.
  12. . If a school council member is absent for 3 consecutive meetings without special leave then their position becomes vacant.  This should be in the standing orders.
  13. . What an apology is should be in the standing orders.
  14. . Schedule 7 from the “Principals Guide to School Council Elections 2012” shows who’s on school council and I think Peter indicated should be available to council members.

From reading the Induction document I’ve noted the following:

  1. Functions of school council include the regulating and facilitating of after hours use of school premises and grounds.
  2. Council are significantly involved in the development of the strategic plan and the AIP.
  3. Council is responsible for how the school raises income (over and above the funding provided by the government).
  4. The school council is responsible for developing particular policies to reflect the school’s values and support the school’s strategic plan. Day-to-day policies and procedures are managed by the principal and staff.
  5. The principal is an ex-officio of all council sub-committees.
  6. Sub-committees must have at least three members with at least one school council member.
  7. Schools are encouraged to have a finance sub-committee and others as appropriate.
  8. Decisions are always the decision of the whole council.  Decisions are made by voting, ideally by, consensus.
  9. The school council should keep the community informed about its operations by publishing a report following a meeting in the school newsletter and/or on the school website. A person does not have the right of access to the minutes or other documents or records of a school council under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
  10. .  A school council must call a public meeting at least once each year and report the proceedings of the council since the date of the previous public meeting. The council muse present the annual report to the meeting and, if the school council accounts have been audited, present a copy of the audited accounts.



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