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					                                            Barkly Region


                                          Darwin Region

                                        East Arnhem Region

                                          Katherine Region

                                     Palmerston & Rural Region

                                          Southern Region

Northern Territory Council of Government School Organisations
                    Phone: (08) 8999 3255
                    Fax:    (08) 8999 3254
                  Web:                               Northern Territory Council of
        1st Floor Ludmilla Primary School Bagot Road
                         PO Box 40520                               Government School Organisations Inc
                      Casuarina NT 0811

               Table of Contents                             11. Amending a Constitution
                                                             6.        After ratification, a letter is written to the Minister seeking
                                                                  approval of amendments to the constitution and enclosing:
 CONTENTS                                         PAGE
                                                                  a)    a signed copy of the amended constitution
                                                                  b)    a copy of the minutes of the Special General Meeting
1.   Setting The Scene                                  2
                                                                  c)    a list of all the amendments made to the constitution.
2.   School Council Annual Requirements                 2    7. Council will receive a letter from the Chief Executive Office of the Depart-
                                                                  ment responsible for Education in the Northern Territory on behalf on the
3.   Roles and Responsibilities                         3
                                                                  Minister, advising that the amendments to the constitution have been ap-
4.   Standing Orders                                    3         proved.

5.   Preparation and Conduct of Meetings                4    An Example Constitution is available at (Legal)
6.   Resolutions and Motions                            5

7.   Amendment                                          7    12. References and Resources
8.   Quorums and Meeting Attendance                     7    Other Companion Handbooks in this series include:
9.   Committees and/or Subcommittees Roles              8    • Secretary Roles and Responsibilities
                                                             • Treasurer Roles and Responsibilities
10. Effective School Councils                           8
                                                             • You’re On A School Council … Now What?
11. Amending a Constitution                             9         These Handbooks provide a guide to Roles and Responsibilities for NT
13. References and Resources                            10        Government School Council Members. Published and distributed by COGSO.

                                                             Department of Education and Training
                                                             • Department of Education and Training;
             Companion Handbook to                           • School Management Handbook

            You’re on a School Council                            Published and distributed by Department of Education & Training
                   … Now What?
        COGSO’s complete guide to the roles and
           responsibilities of School Councils
                                                             • School Asbestos Hotline 8901 4945

 All information may be freely copied and distributed        NT Department of Education & Training
Copies available at: (Publications)       • via government switchboard 8999 5511

                             1                                                                           10
Effective School Councils (cont’d)                                                1. Setting The Scene
• Establish clear processes for developing policy, which are carried out in an    Use of the word Chairman instead of Chairperson is the recognised legal term.
  inclusive and consultative manner                                               It does not reflect the male/female role of the leader of the governing body.
• Receive financial reports which accurately convey the school’s financial        Each Council may make its own decision on this matter.
                                                                                  At any meeting the Chairman is the most important person in terms of the way
• Ensure their budget is consistent with the goals and priorities of the APIF
                                                                                  the meeting operates.
  for school improvement
• Regularly report to and seek input from the broader school community            The Chairman uses this position to initiate, facilitate and motivate ideas and
• Budgets and authorize the employment of non-teaching and other staff for        people to accomplish the goals of the meeting.
  short term projects                                                             Important aspects of a good Chairman include impartiality, firmness, tact,
• Consult all sections of the community in developing the School’s Code of        common sense and a good sense of humor. Other useful qualities are courtesy,
  Conduct and other such matters as may from time to time be applicable           patience, fairness, self-control, tolerance, and an orderly mind.
• Respond to issues in the school community in a proactive and productive
• Treat all other councilors in a fair and considerate manner, recognizing that   2. School Council Annual Requirements
  all parents have the right to contribute to their children’s education
                                                                                  Each year a School Council must:

11. Amending a Constitution                                                       •   Hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM) by 15th March each year.
                                                                                      (Permission must be sought from the Minister for Education to hold an AGM
To amend the Constitution of the School Council follow these steps:
                                                                                      after this date)
1. Form a subcommittee to draft an amended Constitution which still meets
                                                                                  • Ensure all teachers are registered with the NT Teacher Registration Board
   the requirements of the Education Act and Regulations.
                                                                                  • Ensure an up to date Asbestos Register is available for workmen to sight
2. The subcommittee makes recommendations for constitutional amendments
                                                                                    and sign
   to meet the needs of the school community.
3. Recommendations for changes are returned to the School Council for their
   consideration and acceptance.                                                  3. Roles and Responsibilities
4. A Special General Meeting is called to ratify the amendments to the consti-
                                                                                  The duties of a School Council Chairman, are to:
   tution. This meeting, which will have no other item on the agenda, but it
                                                                                  • Be a spokesperson for School Council, in line with the Constitution
   may be held on the same night as a monthly meeting. It must be advertised
                                                                                  • Chair meetings and to assist the Secretary prepare the Agenda
   to the school community, usually at least 14 days prior, as specified in the
   existing constitution.                                                         • Convene meetings and act on Council resolutions
5. If held on the same night as a monthly meeting, each meeting must be           • Inform the school community of Council decisions and activities
   opened and closed separately with official Minutes of each meeting being       • Understand and implement Council’s Standing Orders and meeting
   taken.                                                                           procedures

                                      9                                                                                   2
Roles and Responsibilities (cont’d)                                              Quorums and Meeting Attendance (cont’d)
• Be familiar with the meeting’s correspondence, reports etc.                    When there is no quorum

• Improve the organisation’s policies and practices                              If a quorum is not present you can proceed with an ‘Informal Meeting’. Any
                                                                                 business is then ratified at the next meeting and must be formally noted in the
• Ensure all office bearers and sub-committees are undertaking their
                                                                                 Minutes of that meeting.
  functions and are fully informed in order to do so
• Act, subject to any expressed or implied instructions, on behalf of the        Quorum at AGM
  organisation and its committee in the interval between meetings                The quorum at an AGM is the number of members required under the
• Perform courtesies such as thanking guest speakers                             Constitution for a   full Council, but is not necessarily made up of Council
• Act on valid requests from members                                             members. It may be comprised of parents of the school community.
• Seek suitable people to stand for office, or act in other capacities i.e.
  subcommittees etc.                                                             9. Role of Committees/Subcommittees
• To sign, for identification purposes, any document requiring the official
  signature of Council i.e. a new Constitution                                   Committees and subcommittees carry out specific tasks for the School Council
                                                                                 and may be comprised of a minimum of two members or as many as may be
                                                                                 required to complete the task given.
4. Standing Orders
                                                                                 Some examples of possible committees/subcommittees which a School Council
Standing Orders describe the meeting procedures to be followed, and they
                                                                                 may form are; Finance, Canteen, Fundraising, Building and Grounds
should be clearly defined, and made available to all members.
                                                                                 Maintenance, Outside School Hours Care / Vacation Care.
Standing Orders should also be carefully worded so that disagreement can be
                                                                                 Guidelines for committees can be written and attached to the School Council’s
                                                                                 Constitution as an appendix. This allows for insertion or deletion of rules in the
The following is an example of a set of Standing Orders:                         Constitution, without needing to hold a Special General Meeting.

A quorum for general Council meetings is half of a full Council.                 10. Effective School Councils
Order of Business
                                                                                 For a School Council to operate effectively and provide good governance to the
The order of business follows the prepared Agenda and new business is only
                                                                                 school community, councilors should:
introduced on completion of the Agenda.
                                                                                 • Have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities
Suspension of Standing Orders
                                                                                 • Cleary understand the difference between the governance role of Council
A member can move for a suspension of Standing Orders to allow for a more
                                                                                   and the management role of the Principal
full debate on issues. In such cases there will be for an agreed upon time pe-
riod for the suspension. Suspended Standing Orders must be put as formal         • Contribute to and actively support the school’s Accountability and
motions to be carried.                                                             Performance Improvement Framework (APIF)

                                       3                                                                                 8
Resolutions and Motions (cont’d)                                                 Standing Orders (cont’d)
Putting the motion to the vote                                                   Conduct of Speakers
• Once all speakers have presented arguments for and against a motion, the       • All remarks are addressed to the Chairman
  Chairman must put the motion to the vote, according to the method              • The Chairman will choose alternate for and against speakers
  described in the standing Orders of the organisation. Suitable wording could
                                                                                 • All proposals made to the meeting shall be in the form of motions
  be “The motion ….. (read out in full). Those in favor ….. Those against …..
                                                                                 • All motions and amendments should be in writing to the Chairman
  Any abstentions …..
                                                                                 • Motions must have a mover and seconder, or the motion lapses
  I declare the motion …..” (carried, passed or adopted if a motion is
  successful or lost, rejected or failed if voted against).                      Voting
• Once a vote has been taken discussion of the motion ends, and the meeting      Voting is determined by a simple majority of the members present
  moves on to the next item of business                                          and voting. The Chairman has a deliberative or normal vote which
• When a motion is passed it becomes a Resolution of Council                     arises from her or his membership of the Council. This vote must be
                                                                                 exercised at the same time as all other members are voting on the
                                                                                 issue concerned.
7. Amendments
An amendment is an alteration or proposed alteration to the terms of a
motion, designed to improve the motion without contradicting it.
n amendment may seek to leave some words out, add new words or replace
some words with others. It       must start with “that ………….” and must be        5. Preparation and Conduct of Meetings
specific and unambiguous.
                                                                                 Prepare for the Meeting
For example:                                                                     • Plan the meeting and Agenda in conjunction with Secretary
• “That the words ‘but only with the Committee’s approval’ be omitted”           • Ensure notification of the meeting has been sent to all concerned
• “That ‘Tuesday’ be substituted for ‘Thursday’ “                                • Familiarize yourself with correspondence, reports etc
• “That the word ‘Saturday’ be inserted before ‘Sunday’ in Line 3”               • Ensure the Secretary/another member is able to take Minutes
                                                                                 • Invite outside experts to attend if necessary
8. Quorums and Meeting Attendance                                                At the Meeting
                                                                                 • Declare the meeting open and note a quorum/no quorum
                                                                                 • Ensure Minutes of the previous meeting are confirmed
A quorum is the smallest number of members that must be present to
                                                                                 • Review action items
constitute a valid meeting. The Standing Orders or Constitution should state
the required number. If not, then the common law quorum of a majority            • Follow the Agenda, unless directed by the meeting
(more than half) of members applies.

                                        7                                                                              4
Preparation and Conduct of Meetings (cont’d)                                       Resolutions and Motions (cont’d)
• Introduce and make welcome any guest speakers                                    A Motion may:
• Sum up debates prior to voting                                                   •   Incorporate an explanation by way of preamble
• Attempt to get all members to contribute to the debate                           •   Be in the negative
• Establish action items arising                                                   •   Be amended
• Formally close the meeting                                                       •   Be altered or withdrawn but only by leave

After the Meeting                                                                  Procedure for a Motion:
• Check that actions decided at the meeting are undertaken                         •   The mover of a motion is recognised by the Chair, and puts the motion by
                                                                                       saying, for example;    “Mr Chairman, I move that a letter of protest be
                                                                                       written to the Minister in regard to the proposed change of school
6. Resolutions and Motions                                                         • The motion is proposed before the Chairman allows any debate or
                                                                                     discussion on the topic
All items of business requiring a decision must come before the meeting by the
                                                                                   • The Chairman ensures discussion is focused on the motion
way of a Motion, which if passed becomes a Resolution.
                                                                                   • The mover must then explain or ’speak to’ the motion.
There are two types of motions:                                                    • A mover also has a ‘right of reply’ - speaks last ‘for’ the motion
A procedural motion deals with the conduct of the meeting itself. i.e. “that
                                                                                   • If the motion is a formal Agenda item, the mover can say “I move that
the meeting now adjourn” or “that Mr Smith now be heard”.
                                                                                     motion 2 as written, be accepted”.
A substantive motion authorises an action,         or expresses the meeting’s      • The Chair calls for a person to second the motion
opinion in regard to a topic or issue, i.e. “that the Secretary send a letter to   • The motion will lapse if there is no Seconder
the Minister in protest of increased fees”                                         • A Seconder may support the motion or reserve their right to speak
A Motion must:                                                                     • The Chairman asks for a speaker against the motion
•   Commence with “That …”                                                         • The speaker against the motion is followed by a speaker for the motion and
                                                                                     so on until there are no more speakers
•   Be quite specific and unambiguous
                                                                                   • Only two consecutive speakers for either side are allowed
•   Not be worded in the first person
                                                                                   • Each person should only be allowed one speech per motion
•   Not contain more than one sentence
                                                                                   • If no amendments are called for, the ‘mover’ has final right of reply
•   Not attempt to revive a motion previously rejected
                                                                                   • This closes debate as each person can only speak once
•   Be duly proposed and seconded, but not by the Chair

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