Standing Orders for Laburnum Primary School Council


Purpose:

 

Laburnum Primary School (School) Council (Council) is the public entity that is given powers to set the key directions of the School. It is the governing body of the School that, within Department of Education and Training (DET) guidelines, decides the future directions for the School and overseas the School’s operation.

 

The Legislative Framework:

 

The Council operates under a framework provided by the:

  • Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (the Act)
  • Education and Training Regulations 2007 (the Regulations)
  • Laburnum School Council Constituting Order

 

Council Objectives:

 

The Council’s objectives include:

  • Assisting in the efficient governance of the School
  • Ensuring that the Council’s decisions are made having regard, at all times, to the best interest of the students
  • Enhancing educational opportunities of students; and
  • Ensuring the Council adheres to all legal and DET requirements.


Council Functions & Powers:

 

The Council is the key governance body supporting the School’s principal in delivering a comprehensive educational program to all students.

 

The functions of the Council are to: 

  1. establish the broad direction and vision of the school within the community; 
  2. arrange for the supply of goods, services, facilities, materials, equipment and other things or matters that are required for the conduct of the school, including the provision of preschool programs; 
  3. raise funds for school related purposes; 
  4. regulate and facilitate the after-hours use of the school premises and grounds; 
  5. exercise a general oversight of the school buildings and grounds and ensure that they are kept in good order and condition; 
  6. provide for the cleaning and sanitary services that are necessary for the school; 
  7. ensure that all money coming into the hands of the council is expended for proper purposes relating to the school; 
  8. provide meals and refreshments for the staff and students of the school and make charges for those meals or refreshments; 
  9. inform itself and take into account any views of the school community for the purpose of making decisions in regard to the school and the students at the school; 
  10. generally stimulate interest in the school in the wider community; 
  11. prepare the School Strategic Plan and the Annual Implementation Plan (to be signed by the President and Principal)
  12. report annually (the Annual Report) to the School community and to the Department on the School’s financial activities, Strategic Plan and any other matters that are determined by the Minister
  13. manage hire, licence and shared use of the School’s facilities
  14. determine the dates of the School’s student free days in accordance with the number of student-free days each calendar year as specified by the DET
  15. regularly review and assess the need for policies to ensure that the School remains compliant with relevant legislation and DET requirement and to ensure each policy remains relevant and valid.
  16. perform any other function or duty, or exercise any power conferred or imposed on the Council by or under the Act, regulations or a Ministerial Order issued by the Minister.

The School principal has direct responsibility for operational matters of the School. However, the Council has responsibilities with respect to certain areas of school activity. The table below differentiates between the roles and responsibilities of the Council and School principal for each area of activity:

 

School activity

Council

Principal

Curriculum

  • Develops the broad direction and vision for the School using DET guidelines.
  • Leads development of teaching and learning programs.
  • Determines teacher, subject, and time allocations; timetable; class sizes and structures.

Student Management

  • Develops a student dress code.
  • Consults with the School community before adopting changes to dress code policy.
  • Develops student engagement policy in consultation with School community.
  • Implements the student engagement and dress code policies.
  • Considers and, where appropriate, grants exemptions to dress code.
  • Manages all matters of student wellbeing, discipline and academic progress.

Staff Employment and Management

  • Approves employment of some staff e.g. casual replacement teachers, canteen staff.
  • Recommends to the Secretary of the DET the appointment of the principal.
  • As a delegate of the Secretary to the DET, responsible for the employment and management of person in the Teaching Service (including non-teaching staff).

Building and Grounds

  • Overseas school cleaning and in regional areas, enters into contract for school cleaning.
  • Enters into contracts for building and grounds improvements.
  • Oversees maintenance of all facilities.
  • Monitors implementation of contracts.

Child Safe Standards

  • Develops policies as required by the Child Safe Standards (CSS).
  • Reviews existing contracts and ensures future contracts address the requirements of the CSS.
  • Implement the CSS policies.

 

With respect to its objectives and functions, the Council has certain powers and may:

  1. enter into contract, agreements and arrangement
  2. form sub-committees
  3. sell property acquired for use in the School (excluding purchase for consideration any land or building)
  4. provide pre-school programs
  5. use any funding provided to the School for any purpose related to the School, unless the funding was provided for a specific purpose
  6. establish a trust and act as the trustee
  7. employ staff (excluding a teacher for longer than 12 months or with no date fixed for the termination of that employment)
  8. charge fees to parents for goods and services or other things provided by the School
  9. conduct programs in or use, or allow any other person or body to conduct programs in or use, any of the school’s building or grounds for the purpose of educational, recreational, sporting or cultural activities for students or the local community, but only if the building and grounds are not required for ordinary school purposes
  10. construct or carry out any improvements to any School building structure or grounds, subject to applicable approvals by the Minister
  11. do any other thing that is necessary or convenient to be done for, or in connection with, meeting its objectives or performing its functions and duties
  12. do anything else conferred by the Act or Ministerial Order made by the Minister.

Unless authorised by the Act, regulation or a Ministerial Order, the Council does not have the power, amongst the exclusion stated above, to:

  • license or grant any interest in land, including the School’s land or buildings
  • enter into hire purchase agreements
  • obtain loan or credit facilities
  • form or become a member of a corporation
  • provide any matter or thing outside Victoria unless related to an excursion by students from the School or the professional development of staff of the School
  • purchase a motor vehicle, boat or plane.

 

Council Membership:

 

The Constituting Order of School states that the Council is permitted to have a total of fifteen members, with the following composition:

  • Nine elected parent members who must represent more than one third of Council.
  • Five elected DET employee members. The Principal, who is Executive Officer, is included in this number.
  • One community member, who may be appointed from the Parents Group. This is an appointed and not an elected position and DET employees are not eligible for this category.
  • Laburnum Primary School Council has a total of fifteen members.

School councils must apply to the Department to change their size or composition. 

 

 

Member Election

The Principal is responsible for conducting Council elections and assessing the validity of nominations and eligibility of the candidates. A call for nominations must be made at least 21 days before the poll closing date.

 

The election process cannot commence earlier than the first day of the school year and must be completed on or before 31 March.

 

A person is ineligible for election to the Council if the person:

  • is or has been an insolvent under administrations of unsound mind
  • is found guilty or convicted of an indictable offence or an offence that would be an indictable offence if it had been committed in Victoria
  • is a registrable offender within the meaning of the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004
  • is subject to a medical condition that makes them unable to fulfil the role of a council member
  • ceases to be eligible for election or co-option to their membership category.

Membership Term

The term of office for elected or co-opted members is not more than two years, commencing the day after the date of declaration of the poll. Where a member resigns or is no longer eligible to complete the term of office, a casual vacancy is created.

 

The office of President of the Council should not be open to the same person for more than four consecutive years.

 

Casual Vacancies

Should a casual vacancy occur on School Council, this vacancy is filled by co-opting a person from the appropriate category who then completes the term of office of the retiring member or until the elected member returns to fill the position.

 

Office Bearers

The regulations require that there be at least two office bearers – the President and the Executive Officer.

 

The President is elected by all members of the Council and cannot be a DET employee. The role of the President is to:

  • Chair the meetings of the Council
  • Be a signatory to contract, the School’s strategic plan and financial accounts
  • Together with the Council, endorse the School pre-view and self-evaluation, terms of reference for the School review, strategic plan, annual implementation plan and annual report and communicate this information to the School community
  • Ensure the Council remains focused on improving student outcomes
  • Together with the Principal, be the Council’s spokesperson and official representative on public occasions
  • Access email communication from the DET each week through the President’s Education Mail account and communicate these to the Council members where relevant.
  • Confirm the School’s annual report that the school has met Victorian Registration and Qualification Authority (VRQA) registration requirements

The position of Executive Officer is filled by the School Principal. The role of the Principal is to:

  • provide the Council with timely and adequate advice about educational and other matters
  • ensure the Council decisions are implemented
  • ensure that adequate support and resources are provided for the conduct of Council meetings
  • prepare the Council’s agenda in consultation with the President
  • report regularly to the Council about the School’s performance against the strategic plan
  • ensure new Council members are inducted
  • liaise with DET about Council related matters.

Other Office Bearers are:

  • The Vice President, who is elected by all members of the Council. As the Vice President may need to chair a meeting in the absence of the President, this position is to be filled by a non DET parent or community member.
  • The Convenor of the Finance sub- committee is appointed by the School Council and is held by a non DET parent or community member. This position is not to be filled by the Business Manager.
  • The Minutes Secretary may be either an elected member of the School Council or a person appointed to this role that is not a member of the School Council and is therefore a silent observer with no voting rights.

 

Council Decisions and Votes:

 

The Council will endeavour to reach decisions by consensus but when that is not possible, a vote will be taken with the number “for” and “against” recorded in the minutes.

 

All members of the Council, including community members, are entitled to one vote.

 

The decisions of the Council will be by a majority of those eligible to vote and who are present at the meeting, where the majority are non DET members.

 

Voting will normally be by a show of hands, but a secret ballot may be used for particular issues.

 

Excluded Votes

A Council member who has an actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest in a matter being considered by the Council is not entitled to vote on the matter.

 

Visitors and / or observers attending the general Council meeting do not have voting rights.

 

Tied Votes

When a vote is tied, i.e. an even number of people are “for” and “against” the decision, the President has the casting or deciding vote. It is therefore important that when the President offers a personal opinion on an issue, this is clearly stated. Councillors need to be able to clearly distinguish between the President’s personal views and when a ruling is made as President of the Council.

 

Proxies and Voting Procedures

Eligible members of the Council must be present at a meeting to be part of the decision making process. There is no provision in either the Act or the Regulations for proxies. Therefore, if someone is unable to attend a meeting, another person cannot attend and vote on their behalf.

 

 

Meetings:

 

General Meetings

The Council must hold at least eight general meetings (at least one in each term) per year. Unless otherwise decided, the Council meetings will be held twice a term, usually on the third week of the month, on the Tuesday of that week from 7:00pm to 8:30pm.

If members are unable to attend a meeting, they are expected to send their apology prior to the meeting. An extraordinary meeting may be held at any time decided by the Council, provided all members are given prior notice of the date, time, place and purpose of the meeting. At least one week’s notice is preferable if an extraordinary meeting is to be held.

 

Quorum

A quorum requires not less than one half of the Council members currently holding office to be present at the meeting, with a majority of members present who are not DET employees. Any parent members on the Council who also work for the Department are counted as employees for the purpose of the quorum. A member of the School Council may be present in person or by video conferencing or teleconferencing.

 

Public Meetings

The Council must also hold at least one public meeting each year (the Annual General Meeting) to report to the School community on its activities and to present an Annual Report including statement of the School’s income and expenditure for the previous calendar year, if the accounts have been audited.

 

Open and Closed Meetings

Visitors or observers can be present at the general meeting of the Council with the agreement of the Principal and a decision by the Council. While all Council general meetings would normally be open to the School community, there may be times when the meeting, or part of the meeting needs to be closed to protect the confidentiality or privacy or for another valid reason. Should this occur, the School Council will need to approve a recommendation (called a motion) to go into a “closed” session. The School Council should then return into open session once the topic under discussion has been concluded.

 

If permitted to attend a general Council meeting, visitors and observers must direct all their comments through the Chairperson.

 

Chair

The elected President must chair all meetings of the Council.

 

In the absence of the President, the Vice President must chair the Council meeting. If neither the President nor Vice President is present, councillors may elect a member to chair the meeting. This person should be a non DET employee.

 

Extensions of Meeting Times

If business has not been concluded by the scheduled closing time for the meeting, the chair should ask councillors whether they wish to defer the rest of the business until the next meeting or to extend the meeting by a specified period of fifteen minutes. Not more than two fifteen extensions are to be granted.

 

A motion is necessary if School Council wants to extend the meeting for that evening.

 

Conflict of Interest

If a Council member has a direct financial or personal interest in a matter being considered before School Council, then that councillor must:

  • Declare the conflict of interest
  • Not be present during the discussion unless invited to do so by the President
  • Not be present when a vote is taken on the matter i.e. conflicted member’s vote is excluded
  • May be included in the quorum for that meeting

Agenda and Notes

The agenda and any notes for meetings, including sub-committee minutes, President’s report (if any) and Principal’s report all need to be distributed to Council members in the week prior to the meeting.

 

Minutes from the meeting will be distributed before the next meeting.

 

Business arising from the previous minutes and all sub-committee recommendations will be itemised in the agenda.

 

Minutes

All decisions of Council shall be recorded as minutes. Also included in the minutes are the dates and times of the meeting, those present and apologies and an overview of key discussions.

 

When the School Council minutes are submitted for confirmation, only questions regarding their accuracy as a record of the meeting are to be raised.

 

Once the minutes have been accepted as a true and accurate record of the meeting, they are to be signed by the School Council President or the person who has chaired the meeting.

 

Business arising from the minutes is dealt with after the minutes have been confirmed.

 

 

School Council Sub-Committees:

 

Sub-committees assist the Council in all work that needs to be done. They report regularly at the School Council Meetings, provide advice and make recommendations to the School Council, which has the final responsibility for decisions. The sub-committees cannot make decisions for the School Council, rather, they make recommendations to the School Council.

 

All Council members are expected to play an active role in at least one sub-committee. Each Council sub-committee should:

  • have a nominated convenor who shall be a member of School Council
  • consist of not less than three members.

The sub-committees for the Council are:

  • Finance
  • Communication and Wellbeing
  • Buildings and Grounds - only as needed

Parents Group reports to School Council, but is not a sub-committee in itself, as per DET guidelines.

 

 

Code of Conduct:

 

The School Councillors will at all times behave in a civil and respectful manner. School Councillors will promote:

  • The School values
  • Respectful partnerships
  • Clear and honest two way communication
  • Transparent processes
  • Democratic, informed decision making
  • Personal and professional integrity

School Councillors must abide by the School Council Code of Conduct, drawn from the Victorian Public Entity Directors’ Code of Conduct 2006. These are available from the Executive Officer (Principal).

 

In the context of the Council’s duties and functions, members are required to:

  • Act with honesty and integrity:
    • be truthful, open and clear about their motives and
    • declare any real potential or perceived conflict of interest and duty
  • Act in good faith in the best interests of the School:
    • work cooperatively with other members and the School community
    • be reasonable and make all decisions with the best interest of students foremost
  • Act fairly and impartially by:
    • consider all relevant facts of an issue before making a decision
    • seek to have a balanced view
    • never give special treatment to a person or group
    • never act from self-interest
  • Use information appropriately:
    • not use their position as a member of the Council to gain advantage
  • Act in a financially responsible manner:
    • observe all principles when making financial decisions
  • Exercise due care, diligence and skill:
    • accept responsibility for decisions
    • do what is best for the School
    • comply with relevant legislation and policies when making decisions
  • Demonstrate leadership and stewardship:
    • set a good example, encourage a culture of accountability and child safety
    • manage risks effectively and responsibly to keep the School strong and sustainable.

 

Self-Assessment and Training:

 

Upon being elected, Council members are required to complete the training modules offered by the DET to ensure the Council can:

  • perform efficiently and effectively
  • respond strategically to changing demand and educational challenges
  • strengthen community confidence in the Council

The Council will conduct an annual self-assessment, at time to be determined by the President, to evaluate the effectiveness of the Council in discharging its duties and identify areas of improvement.

 

 

Endorsed by School Council: February 2021

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