School council elections

School councils comprise parents, the principal, staff and often community members. School council elections are held in February or March each year.

All parents or guardians of students enrolled at the school are eligible to vote for parent members, and staff vote for staff members. Community members are co-opted by the school council.

School council membership

A school council's constituting order specifies the total size of the council and the number of members in each category. 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 co-opted by the council within the limits of the constituting order. 

Membership categories

  1. A mandated elected parent category – because parents have such an important part to play in schools, there is an elected parent member category. Parent members must comprise more than one-third of council's total membership. Department employees are eligible to be parent members at their child's school, as long as they do not work at the particular school.
  2. A mandated 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 total membership of school council. As the Executive Officer, the principal of the school is automatically one of these members.
  3. A mandated student member category - all schools with Year 7 students and above have a mandated student member category. Students in Year 7 and above enrolled at the school are eligible to nominate for membership.
    • NOTE: Separate advice (Appendix E to the Principals Guide to School Council Elections) has been developed which details the election process for students. Appendix E is available in the School Policy and Advisory Guide, see: Conducting an Election
  4. An optional community member category – its members are co-opted by the council because of their special skills, interests or experience, for example parent club representative, local business representative, lawyer or accountant. Department employees are not eligible to be community members.

A parent who works at the school for more than 8 hours per week, either as an ongoing employee or on a fixed-term of ninety days or more will be in the Department employee category.

A parent member of council whose child no longer attends the school is no longer eligible to serve as a parent member. However if the child finishes school at the end of a normal school year the parent may continue on the council until the next election, at the beginning of the next year.

If a year 12 student who has been elected to the student member category has completed the normal school year and ceases to be enrolled at the school, that student may continue to be a member of the council until the next council election.

Elected and co-opted councillors both have the same roles and responsibilities.

Student member category - Alternative arrangement requirements

Certain secondary schools may be eligible to determine whether it is practical to have mandated student positions on their school council. This includes special, small and rural schools. For further information see the School Policy and Advisory Guide: Conducting an Election - Election requirements.

School council positions

School councils must include these positions:

  • President – parent member (non-Department employee) or community member who is chairperson of school council meetings
  • Executive officer – the principal

Other positions may include:

  • Vice president - parent member (non-Department employee) or community member.
  • Convenor of the finance subcommittee – as elected from council members, preferably a parent member or community member who is not a Department employee. The business manager/burser should not hold this position. The convenor may be appointed by council as the treasurer.  
  • Minute taker / Secretary - the person undertaking this role records the actions and discussion in council meetings. It can be filled by a non-council member. If this is the case, the person is required to be a silent observer and has no voting rights. The position can also be filled by a council member.

Student members are ineligible to hold an office bearer position.

The following documents provide further details on school council membership:

Terms of office

School council members are elected (or co-opted in the case of community members) for approximately a two year term. Half the membership is elected or co-opted each year creating vacancies for the annual school council election.

The term of office and rights and responsibilities of community (i.e. co-opted) members are the same as those of elected councillors.

Election process

  1. The principal arranges and conducts the election. The principal will issue a notice and call for nominations for parent and Department employee members in late February or early March. The notice will include a form or way to reply and the deadline to submit a nomination.  The election process must be completed by the end of March.
    • Note: In 2018 the election process for student members must be completed by the end of May. Principals are required to use the schedules and information in Appendix E to conduct the election process for student members (available late Term 1).
  2. Return the nomination form to the principal within the timeframe stated on the notice of election. Those who nominate will receive a receipt. Ask at the school for help if you would like to stand for election and are not sure what to do.
  3. If there are more nominations than there are vacant positions on council, a ballot (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 you or you can nominate yourself in the appropriate category.

Election documents

The following Schedules must be used to post notice of a school council election, call for nominations and to nominate for school council membership, in the parent category.

Translations of these Schedules in five community languages (Arabic, Dari, Traditional and Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese) can be found in the School Policy and Advisory Guide at: Elections - Translated Documents and Support Materials

The remaining Schedules, including Department employee nomination forms and ballot papers, can be found in the Principals Guide to School Council Elections 2018 (pdf - 642.95kb). A separate appendix (Appendix E) detailing the school council election process for the student member category is available in the School Policy and Advisory Guide, see: Conducting an Election - Election documents.

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 a part of before going on leave.

Changing the size or configuration of school council

School council can change both the size and the configuration of its membership, within the guidelines provided by the Department, by completing the Schedule 9 form, see. Schedule 9: Change of Size or Configuration form  (pdf - 39.48kb)

Note: Councils are unable to alter the number of Student members on council. This category is fixed at two members.

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

Raising a concern

Any person with a concern about any matter arising out of the conduct of an election may make a complaint, in writing, to the principal. This complaint must be made within 14 days of the date when the poll was declared.

More information

For more information see: