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Csd prospective members-1

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  • Explanatory Notes: This presentation is intended to provide those people who might be interested in joining a school council with: An overview of what a school council is An overview of the legal framework in which school councils operate What they can expect as a school councillor Where to go for more information.
  • What is a school council? All government schools in Victoria have a school council (except for the Distance Education Centre, Victoria). Each school council is a legal entity in its own right. School council is the group of people who are given the power to set the key directions for the school. This means that school council can directly influence the quality of education that a school provides to its students. School council endorses the key school planning, evaluation and reporting documents including the School Strategic Plan, the school budget and the Annual Report to the School Community. School council therefore makes sure that the school is running effectively in terms of how it spends its money and the guidelines it makes for how the school is to work. The school council is accountable to the Minister for Education in respect to how it fulfils its functions.
  • What laws affect school councils? School councils operate under the following legal framework: Education and Training Reform Act 2006 Education and Training Reform Regulations 2007 A constituting Order is an order of the Minister for Education specifying the size and configuration of the membership of the school council, its objectives, functions and powers and election procedures.
  • What are the objectives of school council? A school council's objectives are described in the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 . The objectives are to: Assist in the efficient governance of the school Ensure that its decisions affecting students of the school are made having regard, as a primary consideration, to the best interests of the students Enhance the educational opportunities of the students at the school and Ensure the school and council comply with any requirements of the Act, the Regulations, a Ministerial Order, direction, guideline or DEECD policy.
  • What are the functions of a school council? The functions of a school council are outlined in the Education and Training Reform Act 2006. In essence, the function is one of helping to set the long-term future for the school and maintaining oversight of the school's operation. It is not about running the school – that is the job of the principal. Three of the critical functions are: Participate in developing the School Strategic Plan and engaging the school community Approving the annual budget and monitoring expenditure, and Developing, reviewing, updating and monitoring policies including the Student Engagement Policy (how the school promotes expected student behavior, how bullying will be managed and the school's approach to supporting student wellbeing) and the School Dress Code (this includes how students are expected to dress during school hours including traveling to and from school, if the school has a uniform and what that looks like, and any arrangement with clothing suppliers that the school might enter into) Additional functions include: Preparing an annual report relating to financial activities and the School Strategic Plan and presenting the Annual Report to the School Community at the annual public meeting of school council and publishing and making available the annual report to the school’s community. Informing itself and taking into account the views of the school community when making decisions regarding the school and the students Arranging for the supply of the things needed for the conduct of the school (such as goods, services, facilities, materials and equipment) including the provision of preschool programs Providing meals and refreshments for students and staff and charging for this Raising money for things that the school needs and ensuring any money that council receives is properly spent on school-related purposes Making sure the school’s grounds and buildings are maintained Entering into contracts for things like cleaning the school or a school council building project Regulating and facilitating the after-hours use of the school premises and grounds Stimulating interest in the school within the community Approving overnight excursions and adventure activities, etc. For further information on the role of school council, see the DEECD publication Making the Partnership Work ( http://www.eduweb.vic.gov.au/edulibrary/public/schacc/make_partnerships_work.pdf)
  • Limitations: What school council does not do School council does not manage the day-to-day running of the school. For example, it does not employ ongoing teaching staff with no fixed date for termination, decide which classes students will be assigned to, or sort out issues relating to individual teachers and students and/or parents. Nor does it discuss individual issues relating to teachers or staff or parents – these are very clearly management roles, and therefore the principal's job. School councillors are not appointed to represent specific interest groups or permit special interests to dominate the agenda of the council. School council does not renew the principal’s contract nor recruit or dismiss the principal - that is the role of the regional director. For the majority of schools, the school council is responsible for recommending to the Secretary, DEECD, a person to fill a vacant principal position. School Council is also not allowed to license or grant any interest in land; purchase a motor vehicle or plane; enter into hire purchase agreements or obtain credit or loans; form or become a member of a corporation; or provide education services outside of Victoria, unless it is given permission by the Minister. For further information on the role of school council and what it is not responsible for, see the DEECD publication Making the Partnership Work ( http://www.eduweb.vic.gov.au/edulibrary/public/schacc/make_partnerships_work.pdf)
  • Key Partnerships for school councils For school councils to operate effectively, it is important that school council is able to work as a team. Councillors’ responsibilities relate to the good of the whole school, not just one section of it. A critical relationship is that between the principal and the school council president . They need to work together 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. There is no place for one-upmanship on school council. Similarly, school council president and the convenors of the subcommittees need to maintain respectful and cooperative relationships. Subcommittees are advisory bodies to school council and do not make decisions by themselves. It is important for subcommittee convenors to remember this. School council members need to be able to work as a team . That means respecting the different skills, knowledge and experience that each member brings to council, sharing the workload, with everyone contributing and sharing responsibility. It follows that school council also needs to be able to work cooperatively with the parents and staff at the school. This does not mean that councillors have to like everyone, rather they 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 – for example, uniform policy or dress code. School council needs to discuss and document a process for consulting with its community. All government school councils are bound by legislation, Ministerial Orders, directions, guidelines and DEECD policy. It is important for councillors to be aware of their responsibilities.
  • School council membership There are three types of membership on school council: Parent members More than one third of the school council’s total membership must comprise members elected to this category (i.e. they must have a child or children enrolled at the school). 2. DEECD employee members – the principal is the executive officer and is included as a DEECD member and has full voting rights 3. Community members – this is an optional membership category and persons are coopted by school council to a Community member position rather than elected. Coopting a person to a Community member position allows school councils to bring additional skills and perspectives to the council that may not be available from the parent or teaching community. The cooption of community members is a decision made by school council at its first meeting for the year and during the year to fill casual vacancies. For example, the council may decide that it wants to use a Community member position to coopt a member from the local community, such as a representative of a community support organisation, key local employer, a builder or someone with particular skills they feel they might need, or it might include students (in a secondary school) or parent club representatives . DEECD employees cannot be community members. Community members have the same voting rights as elected members. School councillors are elected for a two-year term of office. Half the members retire each year but they can stand for re-election. A school council must comprise between 6 and 15 members and its size and/or configuration may be changed by a Ministerial Order.
  • Some examples of subcommittees Schools may have subcommittees for things such as: Finance – development of annual budget and presentation to school council for approval, monitoring of expenditure and reporting this to school council; Buildings and grounds – planning and developing the school's facilities, such as its buildings and grounds; organising working bees and other actions to maintain or improve the appearance of the school; Educational policy – developing the educational policy for school council, possibly monitoring the implementation of the strategic plan, and reviewing school data; Community building or community relations – developing ways for the school to work more actively with its community, both parents and carers and the wider community, and developing fundraising activities for the school, including sponsorship for school events; Outside school hours care, if the school provides such a service, to ensure it is running effectively and legally. Canteen, if the school provides a canteen, overseeing the school canteen and development of policy e.g. healthy eating policy. Note: You do not have to be a school councillor to sit on a sub-committee.
  • Role of school council members For school councils to operate effectively, members need to respect everyone’s opinions – even those they disagree with. It is also important that once council reaches a decision, all school councillors support that decision in the school community. Parent members on school council bring their experience as parents at the school and the views of the wider school community to school council meetings. DEECD employees bring their educational expertise to school council meetings. Community members, if they are on a school council, most often bring a particular skill to school council. They might bring accounting skills or building skills or some other skill that the school is looking for at that time. Note: an example of a school council code of conduct can be found on the department’s website at http://www.education.vic.gov.au/management/governance/schoolcouncils/operations.htm
  • Do I have what it takes to be on school council? You need to be keen, but you don’t need to be an expert. It helps if you like people and you do need to be able to work as a team member. You do need to be prepared to commit the time and effort needed to ensure the work of council gets done. (The workload is discussed in more detail later in the presentation.) School councils work best when they have people from a variety of different backgrounds and who have different experiences.
  • Why join school council? Being on school council is a great way to get involved and have a real say in what your school is doing for its students. You get to both learn a lot and contribute a lot. Being on school council is a very good way to help present and future students of the school. One of the roles of school council is to help set the future direction for the school. Some school councillors have also found that their children have a greater sense of belonging with the school.
  • How much work is involved? School council must meet at least 8 times in each school year, and at least once per school term. It is good practice to have 2 meetings per term. Meetings should be restricted to approximately 2.5 hours duration at most. In many schools, all school councillors are expected to sit on at least one subcommittee. Subcommittees also usually meet at least twice each term.
  • Some notes about elections The principal arranges and conducts the elections according to the procedures outlined in the school council’s constituting Order and in the Principals Guide to School Council Elections . Elections are held in February or March each year. If you decide to stand for election, you can arrange for someone to nominate you as a candidate or you can nominate yourself. Your nomination form needs to be returned within the time stated on the notice of election and call for nominations. Ballots are only held if more people nominate as candidates than there are positions to fill. Make sure you vote and encourage other parents to do the same. Details of the election process are available from your school.
  • Where can I find out more? To find out more about what school council involves, talk with: The principal The school council president Past and present school councillors. Alternatively, you can contact the Community and Stakeholder Relations Branch, DEECD, via email at: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/management/governance/schoolcouncils/contacts.htm You might also wish to volunteer to be on a subcommittee that interests you. You do not have to be a councillor to be on a subcommittee.
  • What training is available for school councillors? Training packages have been produced and are available on the DEECD website: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/management/governance/schoolcouncils/default.htm Fact sheets referring to specific roles and responsibilities or issues that school councillors face are also located on the website. Each of the Department’s nine regional offices conducts training programs for school councillors. Your principal can give you the phone number of the person in the regional office you can talk with about training programs. The Community and Stakeholder Relations Branch, Coordination and Strategy Division, DEECD, also has people who can assist you with any queries regarding school council members’ roles and functions. There are two organisations your school council can become a member of and that provide ongoing training, development and support for school councillors. They are: Victorian Council of School Organisations (VICCSO) Association of School Councils in Victoria (ASCIV)

Transcript

  • 1. Introduction to School Council: a guide for prospective members
  • 2. What is a school council?
    • Is a legally formed body that is given powers to set the key directions of a school
    • Is the major governing body of the school
    • Plays an important role in school accountability and improvement processes
    • Endorses the key school planning, evaluation and reporting documents
  • 3. Legal framework
    • Education and Training Reform Act 2006
    • Education and Training Reform Regulations 2007
    • Individual school council's constituting order
    • All school council decision-making takes place within a framework of legislated powers, Ministerial Orders, directions, guidelines and DEECD policy
  • 4. Objectives of school council
    • Assist in the efficient governance of the school
    • Ensure students’ best interests are primary
    • Enhance the educational opportunities for students
    • Ensure compliance with relevant legislation and regulations
  • 5. What is the function of school council?
    • Establish the broad direction and vision of the school within the school's community
    • Participate in the development and monitoring of the school strategic plan
    • Develop, review and update school policies
    • Develop, review and monitor the Student Engagement Policy and the School Dress Code
    • Raise funds for school-related purposes
    • Approve the annual budget and monitor expenditure
    • Maintain the school’s grounds and facilities
    • Enter into contracts (e.g. cleaning, construction work)
    • Report annually to the school community and to DEECD
    • Generally stimulate interest in the school in the wider community
  • 6. School council does not …
    • Manage the school
    • Employ ongoing teaching staff with no fixed date for termination
    • Represent sectional interests
    • Renew the principal's contract or hire and fire the school principal
    • Determine class allocations
    • Discuss individual issues between teachers and students and/or parents
    • Purchase land or buildings
    • Enter into hire purchase agreements or obtain credit or loan facilities, unless authorised by the Minister
  • 7. Key partnerships
    • Principal and school council president
    • President and subcommittee convenors
    • Council members
    • Staff and parents and school council
    • School council and DEECD
  • 8. Who is on school council?
    • There are 3 categories of membership:
      • Parent members
      • DEECD employee members
      • Community (co-opted) members (optional)
    • School councillors are elected for a two-year term
    • Terms, rights and responsibilities of community members are the same as those of elected councillors
  • 9. School council subcommittees
    • School councillors would normally sit on at least one subcommittee
    • Sub-committees might include:
      • Finance
      • Environment/grounds/facilities/buildings
      • Educational policy
      • Community liaison/community building/community relations
      • Other – e.g. outside school hours care, canteen
  • 10. What is the role of school council members?
    • All school councillors need to respect other members’ opinions AND support and uphold all council decisions
    • Parent members bring expertise and views to council on behalf of the whole school community
    • DEECD members bring educational expertise and views to council on behalf of the whole school community
    • Community representatives tend to bring individual expertise to assist council in specific decisions
  • 11. Do I have what it takes to be on school council?
    • You need to be keen, but you don’t need to be an expert
    • You need to like people and be able to work in a team
    • You do need to be prepared to commit the time needed to ensure the work of council gets done
    • School councils work best when they have people from a variety of backgrounds and have different experiences
  • 12. Why would I want to be on school council?
    • It’s a great way to get involved and have a real say in what your school is doing for its students
    • It’s a very good way to help present and future students of the school
    • Your children may feel a greater sense of belonging with the school
  • 13. What is the workload?
    • School council must meet at least 8 times in each year, and at least once per school term
    • Meetings should be restricted to approximately 2.5 hours duration at most
    • In many schools, all school councillors are expected to sit on at least one subcommittee
    • Subcommittees generally meet at least twice each term
  • 14. What about the elections?
    • The principal arranges and conducts the elections
    • These are held in February or March each year
    • If you decide to stand for election, you can arrange for someone to nominate you as a candidate or you can nominate yourself
    • Your nomination form needs to be returned within the time stated on the Notice of Election and Call for Nominations
    • Ballots are only held if more people nominate as candidates than there are positions to fill
    • Make sure you vote and encourage other parents to do the same
  • 15. Where can I find out more?
    • The principal
    • The school council president
    • Past and present school councillors
    • Community and Stakeholder Relations Branch (DEECD)
    • Volunteer for a subcommittee that interests you
  • 16. Professional development available for school councillors
    • Online professional development packages and information sheets
    • Regional workshops and seminars
    • Professional development provided by peak school council organisations (e.g. VICCSO, ASCIV)
  • 17. For more information
    • http://www.education.vic.gov.au/management/governance/schoolcouncils
    • http://www.asciv.org.au Association of School Councils in Victoria (ASCIV)
    • http://www.viccso.org.au Victorian Council of School Organisations (VICCSO)
    • http://.www.ssa.vic.gov.au State Services Authority (SSA)