Parents getting involved at school

​This page explains some of the ways you can get involved with your school's community.

This information is about Victorian government schools. Catholic and independent schools will have their own options.

Volunteering

Government schools have volunteer programs where you can get involved with school activities. This could be helping with:

  • the school canteen
  • school excursions and events
  • committees and cultural groups, or more.

You may need to apply for a working with children check. Contact your school to find out what volunteering opportunities they have and if you need to get a check.

Parent clubs

Many schools have a club or association where you can have an active role in the school. Parent clubs help:

  • run events
  • organise social gatherings
  • run fundraising for the school.

In a parent club you can get an understanding of how the school works and build your skills.

Contact your school to see if they have a parent club and how you can join.

Parent clubs in detail

Parent clubs are valuable to the whole school community. They build relationships with community members and organisations for the benefit of students.

Parent clubs may:

  • create links between parents and teachers
  • organise welcome events for new students and parents
  • help with events like fun runs, book fairs and formals
  • run fundraising
  • help with school newsletters and publications
  • advocate for parent views on school policies
  • promote cultural and social diversity.

They:

  • do not run to make a profit
  • do not benefit any individual member
  • are not part of the school council and do not have formal responsibilities or powers.

Individual members of a parent club can sit on school council or subcommittee as a community member.

Working with the principal

Parent clubs work closely with the principal. They must:

  • give regular updates on their activities
  • get agreement from the school council for any fundraising activities.

The principal must:

  • take an active interest in club activities
  • attend meetings and pass on relevant information where possible
  • meet with the club president or other members to talk about proposed activities.

Start a parent club

You can ask to start a parent club if:

  • there isn't already one at the school
  • you have enough interest from other parents.

The initial steps are:

  1. Speak to the principal first about starting a club. Another parent should also be in this meeting.
  2. Submit a written request to the school. The request must be signed by at least six parents of children at the school.
  3. The principal will organise a meeting to discuss the request. They must also give the school community at least 14 days notice that the meeting is happening.
  4. During this meeting it will be decided whether to start the club. Anyone from the school community can attend the meeting.

If the outcome of the meeting is to start a parent club:

  1. The people at the meeting must appoint an interim committee.
  2. The interim committee must adopt and fill out the model parents club constitution (doc - 70.5kb).
  3. The committee must get their constitution approved by the Minister of Education.

Email the draft constitution to community.stakeholders@edumail.vic.gov.au or mail to:

Manager, School Operations and Governance Unit
Group Planning, Coordination and Operations Division
Department of Education and Training
GPO Box 4367, MELBOURNE 3001

If the minister approves the constitution, the first parent club meeting is held. In this first meeting the office bearers are elected.

Use the office bearer nomination form (docx - 48kb) to help with the elections.

The election is run by an independent person, like the principal, a teacher or staff member from the Department.

The process to start a club is set by legislation. You cannot start a club any other way.

After the club has been formally set up, it must be run according to the approved constitution. We recommend clubs review their constitution every year.

Finances and fundraising

Parent clubs run as a subprogram in the school's main bank account and are audited the same as the school.

You cannot run any fundraising until the Minister of Education has approved the club constitution.

After the constitution is approved, the school council needs to approve any fundraising. The principal can help you with this.

If the fundraising isn't for a specific purpose, the school council will decide how the money is spent.

If you're planning on running bingo or minor gambling, make sure get the regulation permission.

Close a club

Closing a club is sometimes called 'dissolution'.

To close a club, you need to:

  1. Give the school community 14 days notice that you will be running a meeting to close the club.
  2. Run the meeting and take a vote.
  3. Have two thirds of people at the meeting vote to close the club.

You can give notice to the school community through the school newsletter, bulletin boards or report to the school council.

If the meeting agrees to close the club:

  • the school council takes control of all club property and assets
  • everyone at the meeting must report in writing to the school council that the club will close
  • the school council must report in writing to the Minister of Education.

Parent clubs automatically close if the school closes, merges or splits. The process to open a club starts again for the new school.

Parents Victoria can give advice and information to parent clubs in government schools. They also offer an advocacy service for parents.

You can also read the parent club policy given to schools.

School councils

School councils are groups who make decisions that set the direction of the school. They:

  • help create and check the school's budget
  • contribute to the school strategic plan
  • make decisions on policies like investments, payments by parents, dress code.

Councils usually have between six and 15 members and include:

  • the principal, who is the executive officer
  • parents who are chosen through an election
  • a school or Department staff member
  • a student, if the school has year 7 students and above.

Some councils also have community members who are chosen by the council. These members have special knowledge or experience in the local community.

Become a school council member

Being a school council member means taking part in shaping the future of the school. You will need to attend meetings and may need to develop new skills.

In most cases you need to be elected to become a council member. Elections happen by March each year and all parents and guardians from the school can vote.

If you're elected, you're a council member for two years.

The process is:

  1. The principal will announce an election in late February or early March. They will provide a form or other way to nominate.
  2. Complete the form or reply to the principal by the deadline.
  3. If there are more nominations than vacant positions, a vote will happen.
  4. The principal will run the vote and announce the outcome.

You can also read the guidelines given to schools on council elections.

Be part of a council subcommittee

Some school councils have subcommittees. They are groups that help with the council's work and give advice.

Subcommittees are for a specific purpose, like finance, IT or community relations.

You do not have to be a school council member to sit on a subcommittee. Contact your school for opportunities.

You can also read the guidelines given to school council members.