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Policy development in governing councils

Sometimes a school or preschool (a site) might need to make a site-specific policy. You might need to do this as part of your role on a council.

Policies are documents that clearly explain some processes, functions and responsibilities. Policies help sites to do things consistently, as well as meet requirements from legislation, the constitution and the department.

All policies should be reviewed regularly so that they stay relevant and correct.

Responsibility for policy

Site leader responsibilities

  • Advise the council about how site policy fits with departmental policy or legislation, the council constitution, and the administrative instructions (PDF 772KB).
  • Contribute to policy development as a member of council
  • Implement and monitor the policy at the site.

Council responsibilities

  • Decide if a local issue that the council is responsible for needs to have  a policy
  • Develop the policy and consult with the school community if needed
  • Monitor and regularly review existing policies.

Understand why you need a policy

You need to think about why your site needs a policy. There might be an ongoing situation or local need that has to be dealt with. For example, the site might need a policy about how pick-up and drop-offs happen because there’s always a traffic jam.

Questions to ask before you start

  • Is a policy the best solution, or is there some other way?
  • Is it already covered by departmental policy?
  • What is in the best interests of the students?
  • Will the policy make a difference?

The site leader will help with this. They will have a good understanding of the department’s existing policies that might apply.

Working with a subcommittee

If you’re dealing with a policy that’s large or complex you might want to set up a subcommittee to develop the policy. The whole council doesn’t have to work on the policy.


It’s essential to discuss the policy with the site leader. They can guide you through the department’s existing policies, tell you about what’s possible, and offer suggestions. You can talk to people at other sites who might have dealt with similar situations to see what solutions or policies they used.

You should see if there are any relevant laws or council regulations the policy has to follow.

You could also talk to:

  • relevant experts
  • staff
  • parents
  • children and students at the site.

Not everyone has to be consulted about every policy, but the most important thing to remember when developing or changing a policy is the impact it will have on the site’s community.

Policy template

All policies are different, and there is no set structure or template for writing one. You can use and adapt this policy template (DOCX 55KB) if you want.

Approving and reviewing the policy

If a policy is being developed by a subcommittee, they must report back to the council.

The council approves the policy as part of its usual decision-making process, as might be outlined in the standing orders.

It’s a good idea to have a register that records when a policy needs to be reviewed. Most policies are reviewed every 2 years.


Site Governance, Partnerships, Schools and Preschools

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