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School councils and governing councils – the different terms

On this website you’ll see we sometimes use the phrase ‘school council’ and sometimes ‘governing council’. It might look inconsistent, but it’s done on purpose. There’s an important difference between the two terms.

Different constitutions, different responsibilities

Schools councils and governing councils have different constitutions. This means they are legally different. The key difference is who is responsible for governance of the site.

  • A governing council constitution mentions joint responsibility. Specifically:

'[...] the Principal’s joint responsibility with the council for the governance of the school.'

  • A school council constitution does not mention joint responsibility.

You can read about the different responsibilities for the site leader, school councils and governing councils.

On this website – what we mean

When we use one of these two terms we mean the specific legal definition. In person, you might hear someone calling a governing council a school council. We won’t do that. When we say ‘school council’, that’s what we mean.

When we just say ‘council’ we're using a generic term that can mean either governing council or school council.

These similar terms can make reading about councils a bit difficult, so we’d appreciate any feedback. If you find something confusing or that we’ve used the wrong term, please get in contact and let us know the details. If it works well for you, we’d like to hear about that too.

Practical differences

Aside from the different constitutions, there are practical day-to-day differences. You’ll see some of these in different areas of this website, usually under the heading ‘school councils – the difference’.

Governing Councils, Office for Education and Early Childhood

Phone: 8226 9617
Emaildecd.sitegovernance [at] sa.gov.au