A guide to board structure

Standard board structure after triennial elections

After the triennial elections, most boards will look something like this:

 Figure 1 - shows 5 blue squares as parent elected representatives, 3 yellow squares as school-based representatives (principal, staff, student) and 4 green squares as the ability to co-opt or appoint board members.

Blue seats: Since the triennial elections, some boards may have filled a casual vacancy for one or more of their blue seats. If a board has followed the selection process to fill its casual vacancy this will affect the board’s options should it have another casual vacancy for a blue seat. More about this below. Other boards may have changed the number of blue seats on their boards. This is called “altering a board’s constitution”. Changing the number of blue seats affects the board’s blue and green seats. More about this below, as well.

Yellow seats: any person in the staff or student representative yellow seat can never be elected, selected, or co-opted to sit in either blue or green seats. A board member in a yellow seat may also never preside over a board meeting.

Green seats: green seats on a state school board can be filled by the board co-opting or appointing board members to gain diversity and required expertise onto the board. Some boards may not use these options, and these seats remain empty.

In a state-integrated school, the proprietor of the school holds the right to fill four of the green seats with proprietor appointees. For more information about co-opted and appointed board members click here

What happens when a casual vacancy for a parent representative is filled by selection?

Once a board decides to follow the selection process and successfully selects someone to fill the vacancy, the board now looks something like the diagram below. The selected member is sitting in the seat with red stripes:

Figure 2 - shows 5 blue squares as parent elected representatives, one of these blue squares has red stripes over it showing that this is a selected board member. There are3 yellow squares as school-based representatives (principal, staff, student) and 4 green squares as the ability to co-opt or appoint board members.

For all aspects of the board’s work the selected parent representative's seat is actually a blue seat – the only time the red stripe matters is when dealing with further casual vacancies on that side of the table.

The number of elected parent representatives must always be more than the number of selected parent representatives. If another parent representative resigns and the board chooses to fill the vacancy by selection, this time, the board will look like this:

Figure 2 - shows 5 blue squares as parent elected representatives, two of these blue squares have red stripes over it showing that they are selected board members. There are3 yellow squares as school-based representatives (principal, staff, student) and 4 green squares as the ability to co-opt or appoint board members.

This board with 5 blue seats now has the maximum allowable number of selected parent representatives.

If anyone else in a blue seat is no longer on the board:

  • the vacancy must be filled with a by-election
  • the board cannot decide to reduce its number of blue seats. That would leave it with 2-selected/2-elected positions, which is invalid

For more information about casual vacancies click here.

Reducing the number of blue seats

If a state school board decides to reduce its number of blue seats e.g. from 5 to 4, this is called "altering the board's constitution". For more information about changing the number of parent representatives on the board click here.

Assuming all goes smoothly the board may now look something like this:

Figure 1 - shows 4 blue squares as parent elected representatives, 3 yellow squares as school-based representatives (principal, staff, student) and 3 green squares as the ability to co-opt or appoint board members.

If the board does this, it can only have up to 3 green seats, and only one vacancy can be filled by selection. This is to keep the required majority of elected parent representatives.

If a state-integrated school board would like to reduce its number of blue seats below 5, the proprietor must first agree to reduce its green seats from 4 to 3. 

Increasing the number of blue seats

If a board is thinking of increasing its number of blue seats e.g. from 5 to 6, this gives both state and state-integrated boards the opportunity for more green seats. For information about co-opted and appointed board members, click here.

More information

Education and Training Act 2020, sections 120-121 - changing a board’s constitution, and proprietors varying the number of appointees to a board

Education and Training Act 2020, schedule 23(1)-(2) and (12)-(13) – selection criteria for co-opted and appointed board members; limits on co-optation and appointment; and casual vacancies.

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