Roles and Responsibilities of School Councils
School councils play a vital role in the educational opportunity and outcomes of all students at the school. In essence, the role of school council is one of setting the long term future for the school and maintaining oversight (not management) of the school's operation. It is not about running the school – that is the job of the principal.
Role of School Councils
Three of the critical roles of school councils are; developing the strategic plan, approving the annual budget, and setting and reviewing policies.
Other Roles Include:
Role of School Councillors
It is important for school councillors to be aware of their roles and responsibilities.
For school councils to operate effectively, school council members need to be able to work as a team, respect the different skills, knowledge and experience that each member brings to council, and share the workload and responsibility. The council president and principal need to work cooperatively and, where necessary, be prepared to acknowledge any personal differences so as to be able to work in partnership for the good of the school. Similarly the school council president and the convenors of the sub-committees need to maintain respectful and cooperative relationships.
School councillors also need to be able to listen and ask the school community, and sometimes the wider community, about their views on topics that council might be considering.
Role of Sub-Committees Including Finance Sub-Committees
Sub-committees are advisory bodies to the school council and assist council in all the work that needs to be done. They report regularly at school council meetings and provide advice and make recommendations to the school council, which has the final responsibility for decisions. Sub-committees are open to non school council members and therefore provide opportunities to involve many people in the school who are not members of school council.
School Council Membership
Mandated school council positions are:
President – Parent member (non DEECD employee), who is chairperson of school council meetings
Executive officer – the principal
Other positions may include:
Vice president - Parent member (non DEECD employee) or community member, who chairs school council meetings in the absence of the president
Convenor of the finance sub-committee – as elected from council members, preferably a non DEECD parent member or a community member
Minute taker - can be filled by a non council member. If this is the case, that person is required to be a silent observer and has no voting rights. Alternatively, the position of minute secretary can be filled by a council member.
Role of School Councils in Strategic Planning and Policy
The school council is responsible for ensuring that the school has a Strategic Plan that sets out the schools’ goals and targets for the next four years and the strategies for achieving those goals and targets. The school council does this through the Annual Implementation Plan (one for each of the four years of the Strategic Plan) and is reported on in the Annual Report. School council can encourage input to the Strategic Plan from parents, carers and students, as well as the wider community.
A strategic plan is a three or four page document that tells people what the school wants to achieve in the future and how it plans to get there. The plan lets people know:
A policy is designed to influence decisions and actions that the school makes. It is usually a written document that outlines a required process or procedure within the school, such as how to deal with bullying, the school’s approach to homework or how complaints are to be managed within the school.
A policy should only be established to achieve some purpose which reflects a set of beliefs or values on the issue concerned. For example, a homework policy might reflect the belief that regular homework develops sound study habits. Not all issues require a policy; many routine matters can be dealt with by developing simple procedures. For example, you might have a procedure for “wet” lunch times – this is unlikely to require a detailed policy.
Good policies are essential because they demonstrate that the school is being operated in an efficient manner, let everyone know what the approach to certain matters will be, and ensure that there will be uniformity and consistency in decisions and in how the school operates.
Big Hill Primary Current School Council Members
1. Do I need special experience to be on the school council?
No! What you need is an interest in the school and the ability to work cooperatively with others to help shape its future.
2. Why is parent membership so important?
Parents on councils provide important viewpoints and have valuable skills that can help shape the direction of the school. Parents who become active on a school council find their involvement satisfying in itself and may also find that their children feel a greater sense of belonging.
3. How can I become involved?
The most obvious way to become involved is to vote in the elections that are held in February or March each year. Since ballots are only held if more people nominate as candidates than there are positions vacant, you might seriously consider standing for election as a member of the school council, or suggest to another person that they stand for election
4. What do I need to do to stand for election?
The principal arranges and conducts the elections. Ask at the school for help if you would like to stand for election and are not sure what to do. The principal will issue a notice and call for nominations in the second half of February or early in March. For parents, this notice will probably be given to your child so you may need to check with them whether it has been sent home.
Further information from the Department of Education and Training (DET) will provide additional information regarding the role and responsibilities of the School Council
SCHOOL COUNCIL MEETINGS
Meetings are conducted twice per term at school.
Please contact the school office for more detailed written material and contact information regarding the nominated school councillors.