To ensure school parent clubs are established and operated in accordance with the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017 (the Regulations) and Department policy.
Role of a parent club
Parent clubs (and associations) promote the welfare of, and provide support to, the school and its community. Parents are key partners in their child’s learning. By interacting with the school and other parents, parent club members can use their skills and experience to work collaboratively with others in supporting the school and its students, and build a sense of community within the school.
The role of a parent club is threefold:
- to provide support, in various forms, for the school, its students and community, including raising funds for the benefit of the school
- to work in cooperation with the principal, staff and school council in building effective partnerships between home and school
- to encourage diversity by getting to know the parents of other children at the school, and to support the operation of the school.
A parent club is not a sub-committee of the school council. Parent clubs have no legal powers, functions or formally prescribed powers or duties and must ensure they operate in accordance with the Regulations and have a Ministerially approved Constitution.
Working with the principal and school council
Parent clubs are most effective when there is a close and cooperative working relationship with the principal and school council. This can be achieved by:
- providing opportunities for regular updates and discussion between the parent club, principal and school council
- principals providing feedback (and school council where required) when the club is planning social, educational or fundraising activities
- encouraging discussion about, and an understanding of, a wide range of issues relating to broader general education and student welfare matters
- inviting parent club members on sub-committees of the school council
- offering a position on school council in the community member category, where appropriate to do so, to a parent club representative
- utilising the parent club as a reliable mechanism for parent feedback on school policy and initiatives, to assist in school council decision-making.
A parent club may raise funds for the school with the prior approval of the school council.
Typical activities of a parent club
In performing their role, parent clubs may undertake a variety of social, cultural, educational or fundraising activities. Parent club members, working with the principal, provide invaluable support to the school in a number of ways with the primary motivation of building a sense of community. Such activities may include:
- participate in discussion, plans and activities for welcome events for new students and parents at the school
- promoting cultural and social diversity by encouraging membership and participation of all parents in parent clubs
- participate in discussion, plans and activities for second-hand book and uniform schemes, social opportunities such as Father's Day breakfast, Mother's Day high tea
- participate in discussion, plans and activities for fundraising (which require prior approval of school council) for example comedy or movie nights, twilight market, bush dance and barbeques
- channeling parent views to the school leadership about school policies that have been identified by the school for review, such as anti-bullying, codes of behaviour, etc.
- participate in discussions, plans and activities for school tours for potential new students; parent information sessions and school presentations.
Forming a parent club
Requirements for forming and running parent clubs are set out in the Regulations and Department policy.
If there is no existing parent club at the school, and there is sufficient interest from a number of parents in forming a club, one or two interested parents should arrange to meet with the principal to discuss the process of formally establishing a new parent club.
The formal process is outlined in the table below.
Parents who wish to establish a parent club at a Government school must send a written request to the principal to establish a parent club.
The request must be signed by at least six parents of students at the school.
|Upon receiving the request, the principal must:|
- convene a meeting for the purpose of forming a parent club; and
- at least 14 days before the meeting, take reasonable steps to circulate a notice informing the school community about the meeting.
Any member of the school community may attend the meeting.
At the meeting, the attendees must decide whether to establish a parent club for the school. If it is decided that a parent club should be established, those present at the meeting must appoint an interim committee to:
- prepare the template Model Parent Club Constitution published by the Secretary of the Department; and
- seek the Minister’s approval for the formation of the parent club under the terms of that Constitution.
These are the sole functions of the interim committee. They may not meet for any other purpose or conduct any other business including fundraising activities.
Parent clubs that are not constituted in accordance with the Regulations will not be recognised by the school or the Department.
The interim committee must prepare a proposed Constitution for approval by the Minister. All parent clubs must use the template Model Parent Club Constitution.
The interim committee must fill out the template Model Parent Club Constitution (docx - 46.43kb) by altering ONLY the following information:
- the school name (heading)
- the name of the club/association (first paragraph)
- the month in which the annual general meeting will occur (point six)
- remove the word ‘club’ or ‘association’ throughout the document – whichever one does not apply
- the club may insert the school’s logo on the first page of the document.
No other changes to the template Model Parent Club Constitution are permitted.
For assistance in completing the Model Constitution, please see the Instruction Sheet (docx - 2.19mb)
Note: the Model Constitution has been updated for 2019. To understand the changes and how they affect the running of the club, please see the Guide to the 2019 Model Parents’ Club Constitution (docx - 98.08kb)
Once the proposed Constitution has been prepared in accordance with Step 4, the interim committee must seek the Minister’s approval of the proposed Constitution and the formation of the parent club.
The proposed Constitution must be sent via email to:
firstname.lastname@example.org (preferred). Please note that only documents in Word format will be accepted. Please do not submit a document in PDF format.
Or by mail to:
Manager, School Operations and Governance Unit
Group Planning, Coordination and Operations Division
Department of Education and Training
GPO Box 4367, MELBOURNE 3001
Note: A parent club is not established until it has been approved by the Minister. Until the Constitution has been approved, a parent club may not undertake any activities, including fundraising.
Once the Minister approves the formation of the parent club and the proposed constitution, the parent club is formally established. The interim committee is immediately dissolved.
The Department will write to the club or club’s representative to confirm that the parent club has been approved. The principal will be copied in to this communication.
Once the Department’s confirmation is received, the parent club must:
- call an inaugural meeting of the club for the purpose of electing office bearers
- have interested parents complete the ‘Parent Club Registration Form’ at Schedule 1 of the Model Constitution (docx - 46.43kb), to become members of the club. The Registration Form should be submitted to the principal or principal’s delegate (as there are no club office bearers yet)
- request nominations for office bearers. Parent clubs may wish to use the Department's nomination form (docx - 48.01kb) for the election of office bearers.
As a new club will not have office bearers, the principal or principal’s delegate is best placed to facilitate this process.
At the inaugural meeting, the election of office bearers must be conducted by an independent person such as:
- the principal
- a teacher of the school
- a senior regional officer of the Department.
The person who conducts the election of office bearers must not be a current club member, or nominated for office in the parent club.
|9.||Upon the election of office bearers, the club is fully operational.|
Parent clubs must operate in accordance with the rules and procedures set out in their Constitution. The Constitution must be consistent with the template Model Parent Club Constitution published by the Secretary from time to time.
Note: the Model Parent Club Constitution has been revised for 2019. Any pre-existing parent clubs will need to update their constitutions to the 2019 template and submit to email@example.com. The Department's instruction sheet (docx - 2.19mb) for completing the 2019 Model Parent Club Constitution is available as a guide if required.
Schools who have submitted a Constitution to the Department in Term 1, 2019 using the old template will not need to update their Constitution to the new Model until 2020.
Advice on how the new Model Constitution impacts the running of the Club can be found in the Guide to the 2019 Model Parent Club Constitution (docx - 98.08kb)
Updating the Constitution
New versions of the Model Constitution are published from time to time, so parent clubs are encouraged to review their Constitution annually, and when required, update their Constitution to ensure consistency with the current Model.
A Parent Club may adopt a new Model Constitution by vote at its Annual General meeting or at a General Meeting. Parent Clubs will be notified of updates to the Model Constitution via the Department's:
- regular communications to schools (through the school's principal)
- website, including the School Policy and Advisory Guide.
Any proposed changes to the Constitution should be circulated to members one month prior to the meeting the changes will be voted on. Should the club wish to change its name or the month of the Annual General Meeting as stated in the Constitution, this change should be voted on at the Annual General Meeting or a General Meeting.
This should be minuted and kept as part of the club’s records.
Following endorsement at the Annual General Meeting or General Meeting, all changes to the Constitution must be forwarded to the Department for approval by the Minister (or his/her delegate) by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested parties are no longer required to become Financial Members. Instead, they must become Registered Members by completing the Registration Form at Schedule 1 of the Model Constitution.
The annual Registration Form should be submitted to the Club/Association Secretary on or before the Annual General Meeting of the Club/Association or at any General Meeting of the Club/Association.
Upon submitting a signed and completed Registration Form, a person becomes a Registered Member of the Club/Association until the next Annual General Meeting.
Only Registered Members are eligible to vote at any Club/Association meeting or for election to any office in the Club/Association. An individual wishing to join the Parents’ Club at another point in the year can submit their Registration Form at a General Meeting. They will be entitled to vote at the following General Meeting.
Financial management, legal and policy requirements
All funds in a parent club sub-program must be managed strictly in accordance with the Regulations. For further information on the financial requirements see the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017 (at Part 4, Division 7, Sections 54, 58 and 59).
Parent clubs are no longer permitted to hold their own external bank accounts. Rather, funds must be held in the school’s financial management system, CASES21. The Regulations specify that separate sub-programs must be maintained in CASES21 for:
- funds for the club’s administrative functions; and
- any funds raised by the parent club for the school.
Any parent club which continues to operate an external bank account (previously known as ‘Option B Account’) must immediately transfer all funds to the respective parent club subprogram in the school’s official bank account. For support in this process, contact: email@example.com
Allocation of funds in CASES21
The Department does not consider it best practice for unallocated sums of money to sit in a club’s CASES21 sub-program account. Where funds are raised for a particular purpose they should be recorded in CASES21 against that purpose and expended by the school council for that purpose.
If a parent club raises funds for the purpose of establishing or augmenting school funds, the funds may be used at the discretion of the school council. The Department strongly recommends that the school council discuss early on with the club what the funds will be used for.
Any unspent parent club funds should be included in the financial commitment summary at the end of each year and carried forward into the parent club sub-program the following year as part of the budgeting process. These funds are considered to be ‘committed funds’.
The Department considers it best practice that principals and Business Managers work closely with parent clubs and provide the club with a copy of the club’s sub-program CASES21 Variance Report and Transaction Report (usually once per month). It is recommended that the parent club meet with the principal and/or Business Manager to discuss timelines which work for both the school and parent club.
The club’s finances will be audited as part of the audit of the school’s finances.
Parent clubs may undertake fundraising activities with the prior approval of the school council. Fundraising activities may be undertaken
- to establish or augment a school’s general funds; or
- for a specific school purpose.
Parent clubs must also obtain school council approval before spending funds raised via fundraising activities (e.g. installing shade sails, upgrading library books or computers). The funds raised must be held in a separate sub-program in CASES 21, and must be held separately from funds used for the club’s administrative purposes.
Unless the Fundraising Act 1998 otherwise provides, all funds raised for a Government school by fundraising activities must be held in the club’s sub-program account by the school council in trust for the purpose for which they were raised.
If a club plans to raise funds by means of a raffle or bingo or other minor gambling activities, permission and instructions must be obtained from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, see: Community and Charitable Gaming
School council – approving or rejecting a fundraising proposal
Before a school council rejects a fundraising activity proposed by a parent club, the school council must form a committee to consider the proposal. The committee must consist of:
- the president of the school council or the president’s nominee, who must be the chairperson
- one other representative of the school council elected for the purpose by the school council
- two representatives of the group, or body proposing the fundraising activity, and
- the principal.
The committee must consider the proposed fundraising activity and make a recommendation to the school council about whether the activity should be approved.
As part of this process, it is recommended that the school council and the parent club discuss how the funds raised will be spent, to determine what is in the best interests of the school. The agreed purpose (e.g. install shade sails, upgrade the library books or computers, or to augment school funds) must be included in the minutes of the school council meeting at which the fundraising activity is approved.
The school council must not reject a fundraising activity proposed by a parent club until it has considered the committee’s recommendation.
Using funds raised via fundraising activities
Where funds were raised for the purpose of establishing or augmenting school funds (under Section 58(1)(a) of the Regulations) the school council may determine how those funds are spent. Before spending the funds, the school council should consult with the parent club and the principal as to what is most desirable in the interests of the school.
Where funds are raised for a particular school purpose (under Section 58(1)(b) of the Regulations):
- the school council, as trustee, must ensure that these funds are expended only for that specific purpose. The school council cannot choose to allocate the funds to a different purpose (for example, because the funds are needed elsewhere, or it would be inconvenient to use them for the original purpose). Doing so could be a breach of the school council’s duties as trustee of the funds.
- and as a result of subsequent developments that purpose ceases to exist, the school council should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.
For more details about the financial requirements of a parent club, see: Parent club frequently asked finance questions (docx - 99.38kb).
Dissolution of a parent club
A parent club will only cease to exist if it is voluntarily or automatically dissolved in accordance with the Regulations. A parent club is automatically dissolved if the school closes, merges, or demerges.
In all other cases, the procedure for voluntary dissolution must be followed. Principals do not have the authority to dissolve a parent club without following the voluntary dissolution procedure set out below.
The following must occur to voluntarily dissolve a parent club:
- All reasonable steps must be taken to circulate a notice of the proposed dissolution generally throughout the school community
- A meeting to discuss the notice of dissolution must be held at least 14 days after the notice is circulated
- At the meeting, at least two-thirds of those present must agree to the proposal to dissolve the parent club
- If it is decided at the meeting to voluntarily dissolve the parent club:
- all property and other assets must be transferred to the control of the school council; and
- a person present at the meeting must advise the school council in writing of the dissolution of the parent club as soon as practicable.
- As soon as practicable after the above actions have been completed, the school council must write to the Minister and advise him that the parent club has been dissolved, that the school council has been notified of the dissolution, and that all property and other assets of the parent club have been transferred to the school council.
When a school closes, the parent club is automatically dissolved. No further action needs to be taken to dissolve the parent club.
Where schools merge or demerge, the schools involved close and form a new school entity, or entities. If the schools have parent clubs, the clubs will also close. Any funds, property and/or assets from the closed parent clubs go to the newly merged school entity, or entities.
It is at the discretion of the school council of the newly merged school as to how those funds are allocated. Should a new club form, these funds are not considered to be the funds of the new club.
The principal should be proactive and clear in his or her communication to the parent club about this process.
A new parent club can be formed once the new school entity, or entities, have been established. If, in the case of a merger, a new parent club is formed, it is recommended that a representative from the finance sub-committee meet with the club to discuss the allocation of past parent club funds, if appropriate to do so.
Good communication and positive working relationships are important to promote understanding amongst club members, minimise conflict and achieve cooperative solutions. It is important that parent club members take the time to get to know each other and to develop trust and helpful working relationships.
There may be occasions where members of a parent club hold strong conflicting views or do not work cooperatively with other members. The club president (as chair) is responsible for managing any conflict or conduct issues that arise during the course of a meeting.
Some strategies for the president dealing with difficult situations include:
- using clearly understood protocols to ensure all members are heard (for example the parent club may adopt terms of reference, similar to that of school council sub-committees). They may also create standing orders or business rules. The Values listed in clause 2 of the Constitution may be a useful starting point to develop a code of conduct
remind members of the requirements of the Registration Form
- dealing respectfully with all comments and contributions
- ensuring eyeryone has a say in meetings and one individual does not dominate a discussion
- bringing the discussion back to the club’s core objectives
- anticipating matters that might result in conflict between members and introducing them in a way to minimise tension
- being prepared to let an aggrieved member express their view, but then being prepared to bring the debate to a conclusion.
The school principal is responsible for managing any conflicts that extend beyond the meeting. Should the principal deem it necessary, he or she is able to access the conflict resolution services provided by the Department. See: School Council conflict resolution guide