All government schools in Victoria have a school council. They are legally constituted bodies that are given powers to set the broad direction 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.
For most primary school councils, there are several 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
• A small number of school councils have Nominee members.
For all schools with a Year 7 and above cohort, there is an additional category of membership:
• A mandated elected Student member category, two 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.
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.
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. It is important to have an interest in your child’s school and the desire to work in partnership with others to help shape the school’s future.