School councils of government schools operate within a complex and unique governance framework, sharing governance responsibilities with the principal of their school and the Department of Education and Training (DET). Because the governance framework of government schools is unique, it is particularly important that the roles, responsibilities, limits of authority and accountability of those involved are clearly defined and well understood, and that the framework works well in practice.
School councils’ role within government schools is not insignificant. As of February 2017, school councils operated in 1 534 government schools that served over 600 000 students. In 2016–17, Victorian school councils were responsible for budgets totalling $1.65 billion. School councils’ activities have a real impact on students and their school community’s confidence in the way they are managed.
DET is responsible for ensuring that school councils understand the governance framework, for overseeing their activities and for advising the Minister for Education on their performance.
In this audit, we examined whether school councils are meeting their objectives under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006. In doing so, we considered DET’s guidance, and whether DET effectively oversees school councils and keeps the minister informed on their performance.
We made five recommendations for DET.