School Council Membership and Elections

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

School councils are made up of parents, staff, community members and the principal.

Become a school councillor

To be a school councillor, you must have an interest in the school and be able to work cooperatively with others to shape the school's future.

If you're a parent, guardian or staff member, you must nominate yourself to be a school councillor and then be elected through a vote. Elections are held in February or March each year. The steps to nominate are later in this page.

Parents and guardians of students enrolled at the school can vote on which nominated parents become school council members.

School staff can vote on which nominated staff become school council members.

Community members are chosen by the school council.

School council size and structure

A school council's constituting order sets the total size of the council and the number of members in each category. These categories are outlined below.

Most members of a school council are parents of children at the school. A smaller number of members are Department employee members (usually school staff).

Other members can be chosen by the council within the limits of the constituting order. A school council must include between six and 15 members and can have up to three categories of membership.

Membership categories

  1. There must be an elected parent category: Because parents have such an important part to play in schools, there is an elected parent member category. Parent members must make up more than one third of council's membership. Department employees are eligible to be parent members at their child's school, as long as they do not work at the school.
  2. There must be an elected Department employee category: Department employees include staff members at the school. Members of this category may make up no more than one third of the membership of the council. The principal of the school is automatically one of these members.
  3. There is an optional community member category: These members are chosen by the council because of their special skills, interests or experience. For example parent club representative, student representatives or an accountant. Department employees are not able to be community members.

Elected and chosen councillors both have the same roles and responsibilities.

If you are a parent member of a school council and your child stops attending the school, you are no longer able to serve as a parent member. If your child finishes school at the end of the normal school year you may continue on the council until the next election, if you wish to. The school council may also choose for you to be a community member.

If you are a parent and also work at the school, you must be in the Department employee category if you work more than 8 hours per week, either as an ongoing employee or on a fixed term of 90 days or more.

School council positions

School councils must include these positions:

  • President: This can be a parent who is not a Department employee, or a community member. The president is the chairperson of school council meetings
  • Executive officer: This is the principal.

Other positions may include:

Length of service

School council members are elected or chosen for approximately a two year term. Half the membership is elected or chosen every year. This creates vacancies for school councillor positions every year.

Election process

  1. The principal arranges and conducts the election. Each year, the principal will issue a notice and request nominations in late February or early March. The notice will include a form or way to reply and the deadline to submit your nomination. Ask at the school for help if you would like to stand for election and are not sure what to do.
  2. Return your nomination to the principal before the deadline. You will receive a receipt.
  3. If there are more nominations than there are vacant positions on the council, a vote will be conducted two weeks after the call for nominations has closed.
  4. If you decide to stand for election, you can arrange for someone to nominate or you can nominate yourself in the appropriate category.
  5. The election process must be completed by the end of March.

Election process schedules and templates

Election process schedule 3: Notice of election and call for nominations for the first school council election

Schedules notice of election and call for Nominations for the first school council election

Other languages

Where a translation of Schedule 3 is provided to members of the school community, this must be accompanied by the schedule in English

Election process schedule 4: Notice of election and call for nominations

Schedule 4 - Notice of Election and Call for Nominations

Other languages

Where a translation of Schedule 4 is provided to members of the school community, this must be accompanied by the Schedule in English.

Election process schedule 5A: Self nomination form for parent member category

Self nomination form for parent member category

Other languages

Where a translation of Schedule 5A is provided to members of the school community, this must be accompanied by the Schedule in English. Parents nominating for council must complete the nomination form (Schedule 5A) in English.

Election process schedule 5B: Nomination form for parent member category

Nomination form for parent member category

Other languages

Where a translation of Schedule 5B is provided to members of the school community, this must be accompanied by the Schedule in English. Parents nominating for council must complete the nomination form (Schedule 5B) in English.

Changing the size or structure of a school council

School councils can change both the size and structure of their membership within the guidelines provided by the Department, and by completing the Schedule 9 form, see. Schedule 9: Change of Size or Configuration form (pdf - 39.4kb)

Forward the completed form to the School Operations and Governance Unit at: school.council@edumail.vic.gov.au

Raise a concern about elections

If you have a concern about the conduct of an election, you may make a complaint in writing to the principal. This complaint must be made within 14 days of the date when the election was declared.

Staff members on leave

A Department employee on any form of leave or secondment can stand for school council election and has the same Department employee status they had prior to going on leave.

Department employees who go on leave for less than six months can be considered to remain a member of the Department employee category of the council of which they were part of before going on leave.

Being absent from council meetings

If an apology is recorded and accepted by the council that a person cannot attend, then the person has been granted permission to be absent. If no apology has been received, then the person may be considered as not being active and creating a casual vacancy. However, this would normally occur only after repeated failures to attend or send an apology.

Ministerial Order No 52 states that a casual vacancy is created when (among other things):

  • a member is absent from three consecutive meetings of the school council without special leave previously granted by the school council and subject to a decision of the school council.

This means that the council would need to move a motion, recorded in the minutes to remove a member and create a casual vacancy.

It is always a good idea to discuss with the member their reasons for non attendance and give them the option of either attending in the future or resigning rather than being removed. Removal can cause angst and misunderstanding in a community so should be handled sensitively.

Ministerial orders and guidance for principals

For more information see: