Students raise your voice!

We did it! After years of campaigning for student voice to be better represented and heard at the highest levels in schools across Victoria new regulations require school councils in Victorian government secondary schools to include two Student members.

So…what does this mean?

You can find some information about the Student member category for school councils  here

In plain, non-government speak, the new legislation means that all Victorian government secondary schools (not Catholic or Independent) now have to have two Student members on their school council. Some schools were already doing this, but now everyone has to.

Students at government secondary schools should receive information from their Principal when nominations are open.

What do school councils do?

A school council is a group made up of teachers, parents and other community members who make decisions about how a school is run. They meet regularly to work on things like:

  • How the school spends its money
  • The school’s strategic plan and vision
  • Maintaining school grounds and facilities
  • Developing, reviewing and updating school policies
  • Deciding what staff are required
  • …and lots of other things to do with the running of the school.

Why is student representation important?

The school council should make all its decisions considering the best interests of the students at the school. No one knows more about what it is like to be a student at a school, than the students themselves! Students have a right to have a say on decisions that might affect them – whether it’s the placement of new water fountains, or the appointment of a new Principal.

The Student members on school council have a responsibility to represent not only their own views, but the views of the student body. They should be consulting with students at their school regularly so they can be the best possible representative.

If you’re into reading big reports, VicSRC’s report on Student Representation on School Governance Councils is a good place to understand more about student representation.

How do nominations and voting work?

Good question! The process will be different for each school. Generally, the Principal should call for nominations for the position of Student member. Any student from Year 7-12 is eligible to put their hand up to sit on the school council. If there are more than two students nominating, the student body will vote for who they want to represent them on school council. The Principal should organise the voting process.

The election of students to school council should be democratic and fair. Students who already hold leadership positions can’t be automatically selected for school council, a dedicated vote on Student members has to be held.

When will this happen?

The election process for new Student members needs to be completed by 29 June 2018, so that Principals can report back to the Department of Education and Training.

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

Your Principal should have received lots of information about the new member category from the Department of Education and Training, so they should know about it! However, we know that Principals have a lot going on and so they might not have passed that information on to you yet.

VicSRC suggests that you approach your Principal if you haven’t heard any information about elections for school council members. You can send them a link to this document to show that you know what you’re talking about!

Most Principals and schools are really supportive of getting students onto their school council. However, if you feel like your school isn’t following the proper process (eg assigning two students to school council without elections) then you can email . You can also call VicSRC on (03) 9267 3744.

What if I’m at a Primary, Catholic or Independent school?

If your school isn’t a government secondary school, it’s not mandatory to have student representation on your school council. However, it’s still a great idea! You, maybe along with your Student Representative Council, could approach your school leadership with a proposal to include Student members on your school council. Check out our research report on Student Representation on School Governance Councils for some insight into why Student membership is so important.  

Any other questions?

Please let us know! Contact VicSRC on (03) 9267 3744 or at .

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