Q.1. What is the difference between a School Representative Body and School Council?
‘School Representative Body’ is the collective term used for School Council, Independent Public School Board or a Joint School Representative Body.
Q.2. Why should I be a member of a School Representative Body?
On your School Representative Body at least half of the members must be parents of students enrolled at the school.
Parents provide different viewpoints and have a variety of skills and knowledge that they can bring to the role. It is important to have all voices on the School Representative Body to ensure the best outcomes for students and the school community.
Q.3. How can I become a member of the School Representative Body?
If you have a child enrolled at the school, including the preschool, you can be elected by other school parents. This usually happens at the Annual General Meeting (AGM). Vacancies may also arise throughout the year. (Speak to your Principal or Chair about becoming a member.)
Q.4. What sort of time commitment is expected?
A School Representative Body member will usually have to attend 2 meetings a term and where possible assist with activities and events.
Q.5. Do I need a Working with Children (Ochre) Card?
Yes. All School Representative Body Members and Committee Members will have to apply for a Working with Children card from SAFE NT. See 4.4 in DoE School Council Guidelines
Ask your Principal for advice or SAFE NT https://forms.pfes.nt.gov.au/safent/. In many instances the School Representative Body will pay for your application as a volunteer.
Q.6. I don’t have any real experience. I think I would be out of my depth.
If you are committed to children getting a quality education then you already have what a School Representative Body is looking for. Your Principal can provide further information. Schools need passionate and devoted parents that can bring different skills and experiences to the team.
Q.7. Who is on a School Representative Body?
The Education Act 2015 requires that a School Representative Body must consist of the following members:
- Parents of students enrolled at the school (at least 50% of the total membership must be parents)
- Teacher/s (other than the Principal) who teaches at the school
The Education Act 2015 states that a School Representative Body may include additional members:
- Student Members (if secondary education)
- Invited Members (when invited by the School Representative Body).
Q.8. How many people are on a School Representative Body?
A School Representative Body must choose their number of members and this will be stated in the Constitution. The total number of members must be between the minimum of 5 and maximum of 19 members. Your school’s Constitution will tell you the definitive composition.
Q.9. Who can take on the role of Chair of a School Representative Body?
The Chair must be a Parent and cannot be a Teacher or Principal of any NT Government School.
Q.10. Who can take on the role of the Treasurer of a School Representative Body?
The Treasurer should, where possible, be a Parent Member. Any elected Member of the School Representative Body can hold the position of Treasurer. Where this is not possible members shall ask the Principal to direct the Business Manager to act in this role.
The Business Manager is an ex-officio member and does not have voting rights.
Q.11. Who can take on the role of the Secretary of a School Representative Body?
The Secretary should, where possible, be a Parent Member. Any elected Member of the School Representative Body can hold the position of Secretary. Where this is not possible members shall ask the Principal to direct the Business Manager to act in this role.
The Business Manager is an ex-officio member and does not have voting rights.
Q.12. Who can vote at a School Representative Body meeting?
Voting is by simple majority. Each elected member has one vote including the Chair, Principal and elected Invited Members.
Q.13. Is it possible for people who are not parents, teachers or students at the school to become members of the School Representative Body?
Yes. A School Representative Body can invite one or more members, as stated in your Constitution to become an Invited Member. An Invited Member is someone from the school community who the members believe has special qualifications, knowledge or experience. An Invited Member may also be a local Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) or a local government nominee. A School Representative Body cannot ask a teacher or Principal from another government school to be an Invited Member.
Q.14. Is a School Representative Body required to have Invited Members?
No. When adopting the Constitution, a School Representative Body can decide to have the option of Invited Members.It is up to the members elected at the AGM to decide who to invite and for what period of time as per the requirements under the Education Act, Education Regulations, Guidelines and the Constitution.
Q.15. Can Invited Members vote?
Yes. Invited Members have voting rights, the same as all other members.
Q.16. How long can I be a Member for?
Parent, teacher and student members can serve three consecutive two-year terms (a maximum of six years in a row in the same capacity).
Capacity means Parent Member, Teacher Member, Student or Invited Member – not Chair, Treasurer, Secretary.
Invited Members serve for a length of time determined by the members but only a maximum of two years at a time. Invited Members are also eligible for a maximum of three consecutive terms, with the exception of an MLA or person nominated by the local government council. These people may serve longer. The Principal of the school is always a Member.
Q.17. If I am a parent as well as a teacher at the school can I be both a Teacher Members and Parent Member?
You can only be a member in one capacity, that is, as a Parent Member or a Teacher Member.
Q.18. Are there ways of getting more people involved and sharing the workload?
A School Representative Body may establish Committees to assist them. Committees support the work of the School Representative Body and make recommendations. Some examples of regularly used Committees are finance, grounds maintenance, policy, canteen, and parent liaison. All recommendations of the Committees are to be put to the members for consideration and ratification (approval). Committee membership must be open to the whole community.
Q.19. Who can take on the role of Chair of a Committee?
Each Committee needs to appoint its own Chair and the Chair is responsible for presenting the committee's information to the School Representative Body.
The Chair of a Committee must be a member of the School Representative Body.
Q.20. Can the Principal Chair the meeting?
Where the Chair is not present at a meeting, the members must elect a Chair from the members that are present at that particular meeting. This may be the Principal.
Q.21. Can a non-member speak at a School Representative Body meeting?
Yes. Non-members can attend and speak with permission from the Chair but must not vote.
Q.22. Does a professional auditor have to be employed every year to audit the financial accounts for the School Representative Body?
A School Representative Body is required to have its yearly audit prepared by a person who is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Institute of Public Accountants, or the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants. The auditor, or firm of auditors, must only be appointed to audit the accounts for a term of three consecutive years.
Q.23. When a School Representative Body employs a person to manage the canteen or work on the grounds, can it pay them any wage it likes?
The School Representative Body can negotiate with potential and current employees regarding the terms and conditions of their employment; however, relevant industrial relations awards and conditions must be complied with by law. A School Representative Body should subscribe to an industrial relations service for advice.
Q.24. How many times a year must the School Representative Body meet?
To effectively support the school, it is preferred that a meeting is held once a month during the school year. Members must meet at least eight times in a calendar year, including the Annual General Meeting (AGM). The AGM needs to take place by 15 March.
Q.25. How important is it for a member to attend every meeting?
A quorum for a meeting (i.e. the minimum number of members in attendance to allow it to occur and make decisions) is at least half the current elected membership at the meeting. It is important that members attend as many meetings as they can.
Q.26. What is the situation with insurance cover for members and other people who volunteer to assist with a school activity?
Government schools have insurance cover for a School Representative Body and other volunteers. Please refer to the DoE Guidelines for Structured Work Placement Insurance for further information or speak to your Principal.
Q.27. Does the School Representative Body have to pay the insurance premium for workers compensation, voluntary workers cover and public liability?
The Department of Education, through the NTG self-insurance arrangements, provides this coverage. Claims are assessed on a case by case basis.
Q.28. What legal protection do members of a School Representative Body have?
Section 184 of the Education Act protects members who act in good faith in their role as members. In general terms, good faith means acting honestly and in the best interests of the school and its students.
Q.29. Can a School Representative Body tell a teacher what to do?
No. Members do not exercise any authority over teachers or employees of the department. That is the responsibility of the Principal.
Q.30. If a parent(s) writes to the School Representative Body with a complaint against a teacher, can the Members conduct an inquiry into the matter?
No. Complaints against teachers should be referred to the Principal. If the complaint is against the Principal it should be referred to the Department using the process found in the Department’s Complaints Management for Schools policy and guidelines.
Q.31. Where do I go for advice, support and training?
Q.32. What is the Role of a School Council/Board Committee?
A School Council may establish Committees to undertake specific areas of responsibility i.e. Finance, Grounds, Community Engagement.
The School Council should ensure that it advertises Committee membership to the whole school community and that a Terms of Reference (TOR) is established for each Committee. The TOR outlines the purpose of the Committee, its members and how it operates.
Each Committee must be Chaired by a Member of School Council.
A Committee may only consider matters referred to it by the School Council. The Committee Chair presents recommendations from the Committee to the School Council for their consideration. Decisions of School Council are final and may not be overturned by the Committee.
Q.33. What is the Role of a Parent Member?
Did you know that?
- At least half of the elected member positions of a School Representative Body must be filled by parents of students enrolled at the school (Education Act, Section 103 (5)).
- The Chair must be an elected parent member, and may not be a principal or teacher of any government school (Education Act 103(5); Education Regulations, Clause 22 (4)(a), Clause 24 (1)).
- Although parent members also hold Office Bearer roles (Chair, Treasurer, Secretary) they are counted as parent members when determining whether at least half of the elected members are parents of students enrolled at the school.
The Education Act, Education Regulations and Departmental Guidelines recognise the importance of parents and communities in the governance of Government schools and this is the reason for the requirement that at least half of the elected members of a School Representative Body must be filled by parents of students enrolled at the school. (Education Act, Section 102 (a).
The use of a 'Members Register' is a valuable governance tool to assist School Representative Bodies with managing and monitoring their elected membership base.