Councillors need to understand their role, the powers and functions of the school council and how they are required to work with the principal and the school community.
Through DET-provided training School Councillors should understand:
• how the legislative functions of school councils translate into governance roles and responsibilities, including those that require decisions of council
• the distinctions in roles and responsibilities of school council and those of the school principal
• how partnerships can assist the school council in performing its functions, powers and roles.
Functions of a school council
The functions of a school council are specified in the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 and include:
• establishing the broad direction and vision of the school within the school's community
• participating in the development and monitoring of the school strategic plan
• approving the annual budget and monitoring expenditure
• developing, reviewing and updating school policies
• raising funds for school-related purposes
• maintaining the school’s grounds and buildings
• entering into contracts (such as for cleaning or construction work)
• reporting annually to the school community and to the Department
• creating interest in the school in the wider community
• informing itself of and taking into account the views of the community
• regulating and facilitating the after-hours use of school premises and grounds
• making provision for a preschool program at the school or other premises controlled by the Minister.
What school council is not authorised to do
A school council is not authorised to:
• purchase or acquire for consideration any land or building
• employ teachers with no fixed date for the termination of that employment.
Unless authorised by or under the Act, regulations or a Ministerial Order, a school council is not able to:
• licence or grant any interest in land including school lands or buildings
• purchase a motor vehicle, boat or plane
• enter into hire purchase agreements
• obtain credit facilities or loans
• form or become a member of a corporation; or provide for any matter or thing outside of Victoria unless it is related to an excursion by school students or the professional development of school staff.
Different roles and responsibilities
Understanding the functional split between school councils and principals is critical for the effective functioning of the school council. The school council has a governance role and the principal manages the school and is responsible for ensuring the delivery of a comprehensive education program to all students.