Joining Your School Council
School councils exist to give a voice to parents so they can "better influence decisions affecting both students’ education and schools themselves" (from Ontario's School Council: A Guide for Members).
What do school councils do?
When you join a school council, expect to take part in two central categories of duties: advisory duties and outreach duties.
- School improvement planning
- School-based services & community partnerships such as lunch programs
- Providing advice on school budget priorities
- Local school calendar planning
- Providing input on community use of school facilities
- Providing advice on the principal profile
- Planning and fundraising for extracurricular activities
- Reporting to parents and the community
- Holding seminars and workshops for parents/guardians
How school councils work: When must the school council be consulted?
By law, school councils must be consulted in many situations but here are some of the most common:
- The process as well as the criteria for selection & placement of principals.
- Codes of conduct and dressing
- Fundraising policies
- School closings
- Student improvement action plans
School councils must consult with as many parents as possible before developing policies. School councils have the responsibility of sharing information with parents and the community, the parish, as well as other stakeholders.
Why are school councils necessary?
Before school councils, there were no effective formal channels for parents to offer their advice, as well as, hold the school management and overall education system accountable.
In a nutshell, school councils have helped parents know and take part in what is happening in their children’s schools and the education system as a whole.
Why is it important to get involved with school council activities?
1. A parent’s involvement in their child’s education is crucial for children’s success in school
According to a research study conducted by the Education Improvement Commission, parent involvement is one of the most important factors contributing to children’s success in school.
When you are more involved with your child’s education, your child is more likely to attend school regularly, complete assignments consistently and have a better attitude towards school and education as a whole.
For more information on parents and education see the PDF, Engaging Parents in Raising Achievement, Do Parents Know They Matter?
2. School councils help create the perfect environment for learning in the community
School-community partnerships help build a more favourable environment for learning in and outside school (i.e. through outreach programs).
3. You have the greatest influence on school and education system policies when you are involved and your ideas are shared with others
On a personal level, you become an education system partner when you become a school council member. Becoming a school council volunteer is a great way to make your views heard and valued since the opinion of school council members are highly regarded.
4. You’ll make a positive difference
Participating in school council activities is a rewarding experience for everyone who values the opportunity to improve their child’s education and help the community as a whole.
Joining your School Council
All parents are free to take part in the activities of school councils.
For those seeking membership, we recommend you see our detailed information in
What is expected of volunteers?
As a parent representative volunteering in a school council, you will be expected to:
- Contribute to school as well as school council discussions
- Solicit views from other parents/guardians and the community and share them with the council
- Encourage other parents/guardians to participate in council events/programs
- Take part in council committees
- Adhere to the school council’s code of ethics & constitution
Advice from the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board:
"Some parents are intimidated to attend meetings — particularly the first one — because they feel they will have to take on more than what they are able or prepared to. To encourage parents to attend, a ‘shared responsibility’ model may help. That is, for the Secretary role, for example, this can be shared by 2 or 3 people who take turns taking minutes. "
Advice from the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board:
"I think a key is to keep the meetings light and not stuffy. When you think about it, it’s a few parents sitting around talking with the school staff about different issues. Keep the conversations light and interesting...make people want to come out because the meetings are interesting and casual. I think that’s important."
The above two comments are from the Report on School Councils (PDF) published by the People for Education.
School councils need volunteers to implement their mandate effectively. Becoming a school council volunteer is a great way to help your school council achieve its goals.
If you are a community member or parent who wants to become involved, please call your local school for more information.