Understanding the Role of Parents & Friends Organisations in Catholic Schools
Parents & Friends organisations are specific for every school. They have no governance role in a Catholic school as seen in the CECV handbook.
Parents & Friends organisations provide “an opportunity for parents to gather and become involved in the life of the school. These groups take many forms and provide support for the school in areas such as:
- social functions
- maintenance of grounds, buildings and equipment
- fundraising for particular needs in the school
- voluntary support for educational programs.
Parent groups can also assist in fostering the intellectual, cultural, social and spiritual interests of their members, and provide opportunities for the development of community spirit among the staff, parents, parish and wider community.”
P&F bodies can vary in shape, size and purpose, and they are to be determined at a local level. The ongoing challenge for P&F since the change is the key financial compliance obligations applicable to parents and friends associations based on the structure of the specific association.
Due to MACS’ obligations as a not-for-profit charity registered with ASIC and ACNC MACS schools only operate school-controlled associations, so the financial and compliance requirements provided in the CECV guide fall under model 2a. Thus, in MACS schools, the parents and friends financials must form part of the school’s Annual Financial Statements, which are audited annually.
Currently, as per the section on P&F on p.15 of the School Advisory Council Manual, Structures for P&F in primary schools, are outlined in sections 2.7 and 2.8, and Schedule B of Chapter 2 in the Financial and Administrative Procedures Manual – MACS Primary Schools, which all primary schools have access to. For MACS secondary schools, they will be outlined in a policy for parents and friends that has been shared with the secondary principal reference group and is awaiting formal approval by the MACS board.
However, given the new governance arrangements and reporting obligations for MACS schools it’s possible these will change in the near future with the provision of an all-embracing approach that will move away from any semblance of an ‘independent’ body with a constitutional structure and rights, and instead underscore its existence as a school body with a generic Terms of Reference issued by schools that will reemphasise that ‘The Parents & Friends (P&F) exist for the benefit and general good of the school’. This ToR will be developed by a range of MACS teams with Legal input to meet the diverse reporting obligations, protections and concerns of various MACS teams across wellbeing, mission, governance, business functions etc. and will most likely be facilitated by the Governance and Strategy directorate. Note this is only for MACS schools.