About This Module

MODULE 3: Finance


The goals of this module are for school councillors to understand their governance responsibilities in relation to:

  • internal controls

  • budgeting

  • investing and fundraising.

This module will also help councillors understand and interpret financial reports.


The school council is responsible for overseeing the school’s financial performance. It is a legal and Department of Education and Training requirement that council makes sure that funds coming into the school are being properly spent and authorised.

To ensure this happens, council is responsible for ensuring that the school has a functioning and effective system of internal controls. Internal controls are the procedures that make sure that:

  • all financial activity within the school is sound, accurate and legal

  • the school’s assets are safe

  • council can rely on the accuracy of the financial information it receives.

Council also helps develop the school's program (non-staff) budget that shows how the school will allocate its resources to implement the key improvement strategies in the School Strategic Plan and Annual Implementation Plan. Council then monitors the school’s financial performance against the budget in conjunction with the school principal.

Finally, council is responsible for how the school raises income, over and above the funding provided by the government. It must manage any financial and reputational risks that could arise and ensure that all legal requirements are met.

It is recommended all school councils elect a treasurer each year. Most school councils have a finance sub-committee, which handles many of council’s routine financial responsibilities. The treasurer is responsible for:

  • convening the finance sub-committee, where applicable

  • working closely with the principal, school council president and business manager to report to council on all financial reports.

The convenor/treasurer of the finance sub-committee, as elected from council members, is preferably a non-Department member (this includes DET parents). The business manager/bursar should not hold this position.

It is recommended the office bearer position of treasurer be elected at the council’s first meeting after declaration of the poll, in line with current practice.

School councillors are indemnified by the Crown against any liability in respect of any loss or damage suffered by the council or any other person in respect of anything necessarily or reasonably done or omitted to be done by the councillor in good faith in:

  • the exercise of a power or the performance of a function of a councillor

  • the reasonable belief that the act or omission was in the exercise of a power or the performance of a function of a councillor.

Units in this Module

Financial reports
Internal controls
Investing and fundraising