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Holding effective governing council meetings

When you work on a governing council being involved in meetings is central to your role. These ideas can help to get things done and make the meetings effective.

For every meeting

There are some basics that you need for every meeting to help it to run well. To make it legal, you need to have a quorum.


There should be plenty of notice for meetings so that everyone can prepare and be available for it. An ordinary meeting of the council only needs 7 days notice, but other types of meetings need more time.


A clear agenda of items for discussion shows you the direction and purpose of the meeting so you don’t get off track.


Minutes are an official record of council business and must be:

  • accurate
  • a record of agenda items, attendance, decisions, votes, abstentions (people who choose not to vote)
  • filed appropriately.

Tips for the chairperson

These tips are for the chairperson to keep in mind and can help make sure discussions are smooth, relevant and positive.

The chairperson should:

  • start by explaining
    • the details of the issue or problem
    • what the goals are
  • ask others what they think
  • make sure they include everyone at the table – diverse backgrounds and opinions are important to good decision-making
  • don’t just ask yes or no questions, for example don’t say ‘Do you agree?’ say ‘What do you think?’ or talk to an individual, eg ‘John, what are your thoughts?’
  • summarise what’s been discussed
  • make a note, reach consensus or take a vote, whichever best fits the discussion.

The secretary should record what gets decided, noted or what actions needs to be done.

What’s expected from you in your role on the council

Everyone on the council can contribute to positive meetings by:

  • being actively involved, not just turning up and sitting quietly
  • listening to other people, being respectful and paying attention to what’s going on
  • giving detailed reasons about why you agree or disagree with what’s being discussed
  • staying positive – remember the aim is to get the best results for children and young people.

How you can tell a meeting went well

You can tell when a meeting has gone well when:

  • people feel they achieved something
  • there was good, positive discussion
  • everyone had a chance to be involved
  • different points of view were heard and shared
  • decisions were made and actions were planned.

What to do when a meeting is not working

If things aren’t working, you might like to try:

  • resetting the conversation
    • summarise what you think people are saying and ask if you have it right
    • remind people what you were talking about
    • ask what the next steps might be
  • taking breaks and allowing people time to think things over
  • if time and other limits allow it, offering to leave a decision for the next meeting – ask people to be prepared to discuss it again and come to some kind of agreement.

Site Governance, Partnerships, Schools and Preschools

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