What is a School Council and why should I care?

"Having students as part of School Council has implemented a change that has directly affected the climate of my school, enforcing student voice not passively, but proactively." - Wren

School council elections are here again! If you’re at a government school with students in Year 7 or above, your school council is required to have two places for Student members.

 

What do school councils do? 

School Councils consist of elected members from different categories, including community members, parents, Department of Education representatives (including teachers) and students! School councils establish the school’s broad direction and are involved in work on the development of its strategic plan, approval of the school budget and the development and review of school policies.

School councils are responsible for the governance of a school, while Principals are responsible for the daily operations of a school. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference, but the table below gives some examples.

 

Activity

The Principal...

The school council…

Student dress code policy

  • implements the policies developed by council
  • considers, and where appropriate, grants exemptions to dress code guidelines
  • develops student dress code policy in close consultation with the community
  • consults with the school community before adopting changes to this policy

Curriculum

  • leads development of teaching and learning programs
  • determines teacher, subject and time allocations; timetable; class sizes; and structures
  • develops the broad direction and vision for the school using guidelines provided by the Department

Finances

  • Provides financial reports to council
  • Develops the budget timeline and communicates budget to staff
  • Reviews and approves the budget

Further Information about School Councils and their roles can be found here.

 

Do I need special experience to be on school council? 

No! Your special experience is that you are a student attending the school, and so will have valuable input into how policies and big decisions affect students.


You might need to learn some new skills and jargon, but you should have access to training and other support throughout your term on school council.

 

How do the elections work?

At the start of Term 1, your Principal should share information about nominating for school council. You can choose to nominate yourself or someone else. Principals or other school staff are not allowed to elect students to sit on the school council themselves - for example, your school captains can’t automatically take the student positions on the school council.

If more than one or two students nominate (depending on how many positions are available), then the Principal will need to hold elections. You should receive information about how to vote, but generally you will have to complete a voting slip which then goes in a sealed ballot box.

 

Elected school council members have to be announced by the 31st March 2019.

 

 

What if I haven't heard anything about elections at my school?

The VicSRC encourages you to approach your Principal, in person or via email, to ask for more information, and check if they have called for nominations. Feel free to print out the DET’s fact sheet to show that you know what you’re talking about!

In the unlikely event that after talking with your Principal you still feel like your school isn’t following the correct procedure for the election of Student members for school council, you can email and it will be followed up by members of the Department of Education and Training. You can also contact VicSRC by emailing and we’ll have a chat with you about what to do next.

 

For more information on how school councils work, when meetings are held, training options and more, visit the Department of Education website and download their fact sheet for students: https://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/principals/spag/governance/Pages/election.aspx

 

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