The council or board of a public school works with the school community to achieve the best outcomes for students.
It plays an important role in contributing to good school governance so that school resources are used efficiently and community expectations and the school’s priorities reflect the needs of students.
There are two types of school councils/boards: incorporated and unincorporated. Most schools have an unincorporated council/board. Incorporated councils/boards have higher levels of obligations and additional functions. An unincorporated council/board uses approved terms of reference to define its way of working and to meet the requirements of the legislation. The information pack includes advice on the roles and responsibilities of a school council/board, membership, induction and procedures for conducting elections and meetings. An incorporated council/board must have a constitution which defines its rules and way of working. The constitution meets legislative requirements and includes advice on the roles of office bearers, meetings and proceedings, management of finances, disputes and mediation, legal responsibilities, induction and requirement to obtain insurance.
The functions of councils/boards are covered by legislation and include both approval and advisory roles. Some of the matters councils/boards may make decisions on include fees and charges, book lists, sponsorship and dress codes. Councils/boards make these decisions with the principal who ensures the decisions adhere to legislative and policy requirements. Principals also seek the advice of councils/boards so as to understand local community views.
The council/board does not intervene in the control or management of the school. This is the role of the principal.
- Being a council/board member
- Councils/boards and Parents and Citizens’ Associations (P&Cs) working together
- Support for council/board members
Being a member of a council or board is an important and rewarding role that contributes greatly to the success of a school.
Members include the principal, parents, students (15 years, or will reach that age during the year), staff, and others from the wider community who can lend their skills and expertise to the school. When a vacancy occurs on a council/board, the principal seeks nominations. There are also criminal history screening requirements for parents and community members. The term for which members sit on a council/board is determined by each school council/board in accordance with legislation.
A council/board seeks to be representative of the school community.
Having quality members is a critical part of the process of establishing and maintaining a successful council/board. It is imperative that schools have broad networks to ensure a wide variety of people are considered. Ensuring diversity on councils/boards contributes to effective school governance, and leads to better informed decision-making, new ideas, opinions, solutions and stronger connections with the school community. In determining the composition (or the balance between categories), regard should be given to the nature of the student population of the school and the social, cultural, lingual, economic or geographic factors that may be relevant to the school.
Council/board members are encouraged to reflect on the diversity of their school community and the council/board. Approaches can be made to persons who would bring diversity to the council/board and to encourage them to nominate when there is a position vacant.
What do public school P&Cs do?
The functions of P&Cs are covered by legislation. P&Cs promote the interests of the school. They do this through cooperation between parents, teachers, students and members of the general community; assisting in the provision of resources, facilities and amenities for the school; and fostering of community interest in educational matters. P&Cs are very highly regarded in public schools for their organisation of fundraising or other benefits for the good of the school. P&Cs can seek voluntary contributions from parents of students at the school, and these are reflected in the contributions and charges schedule published by the school each year.
What do councils/boards do?
The council or board of a public school works with the school community to achieve the best outcomes for students. It plays an important role in contributing to good school governance so that school resources are used efficiently and community expectations and the school’s priorities reflect the needs of students. The functions of councils/boards are covered by legislation and include both approval and advisory roles. Some of the matters councils/boards may make decisions on include fees and charges, book lists, sponsorship and dress codes. Councils/boards make these decisions with the principal who ensures the decisions comply with legislation and policy. Councils/boards promote the school in the community and take part in establishing and reviewing the school’s objectives, priorities and general policy directions and evaluating the school’s performance in achieving these.
What is the relationship between the P&C and the council/board?
P&Cs and councils/boards each play important roles in supporting public schools. They have separate functions which are legislated but work together to achieve common goals. Members of the council/board and the P&C often work together on different projects. The P&C is often an incorporated body through WACSSO, and if so, they can apply for grants or funding.
Can a P&C member be a member of the council/board?
While there can be no ex officio position for a P&C member on the council/board, there are two ways by which P&C members can be members of the council/board:
- nominated as a parent member; or
- nominated as a community member.
The legislation provides categories of membership on a council/board: parent/student, community and staff.
Once appointed to the council/board, members do not represent any particular group. These include, for example, teachers, P&C members or members with other affiliations. P&C members bring their experience as parents at the school, and the views and context of the wider school community. Teacher members may bring expertise such as an education perspective, networks and knowledge that the council/board is looking for at that time.
How can you be involved in your child’s school?
There are so many ways to be involved! Here are just a few:
- Join the P&C
- Nominate to be a member of the council/board
- Act as a classroom helper
- Volunteer in the canteen or library
- Help out at events such as the sports carnival
- Bring along your skills to a ‘busy bee’
- Take part in class excursions
- Coach sporting teams or clubs e.g. chess, computer, netball, football
- Attend school assemblies and special occasions, P&C and council/board meetings – everyone is welcome
- Help to organise fundraising initiatives.
A new program called Linking Schools and Communities has been developed to support council/board members in their role. The program provides them with training and online resources that are accessible, flexible and respond to the changing needs of councils/boards.
Council/board members can also seek advice on training, resources and other council matters from the Department’s Leadership, Innovation and Strategy unit. P&C Association members can also seek support from the Western Australian Council of State School Organisations (WACSSO).
The Leadership Institute
T: 1300 610 801
WACSSO for P&C members
T: 9264 4000
A resource for community representatives on principal selection panels. The resource outlines the process, roles and responsibilities of being an effective panel member and the importance of the community voice in selecting public school principals. This resource has been developed with the support of the Western Australian Council of State School Organisations.Download Size: 843.5kB
A resource for principals to use with their school community that recognises many positive developments and innovations are already occurring in schools. It has been developed to support schools to build on these partnerships, and as a result, influence the quality of learning.Download Size: 794.4kB
This package provides information for public school councils and boards about their role in linking schools and communities.Download Size: 822.7kB
Find out more about incorporated school councils and boards.Download Size: 413.3kB
Find out more about unincorporated school councils and boards.Download Size: 421kB