The Project

Empowering Local Schools Project

Welcome to the Better Together: Catholic School Advisory Bodies website

“Catholic education is one of the most important challenges for the Church, currently committed to new evangelisation in an historical 
and cultural context that is undergoing constant transformation”

Pope Francis Address to the Congregation for Catholic Education (2014)

We are at an exciting time in education as we strive to build schools that will nurture and educate children for a future that is yet unknown.  This raises challenges but also great opportunities for creating communities that are continually open to exploring new ways of working together to support the faith-development, learning and well-being of our young people. 

This project was initially funded under the Australian Government’s Empowering Local Schools National Partnership with the support of the Council of Catholic School Parents NSW/ACT and the Catholic Schools Offices of the Diocese of Armidale and Broken Bay.

The targeting of federal government funding to support empowered local schools has been predicated on research which identifies benefits to students’ learning and wellbeing when all stakeholders -  families, schools and communities - are engaged and working collaboratively to build strong learning communities. This is consistent with the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, which speaks to local empowerment and the participation of Catholic school communities in decision-making processes, for the benefit of the common good.

This website has been developed to assist Catholic school communities with their existing advisory bodies, such as boards, councils and parents and friends associations and help those wishing to establish such a body. 
It has been informed by extensive Australian and international research and practice across a range of settings. It aims to provide a framework that:

  • is evidence-based 
  • can be adapted to various local contexts and advisory body structures
  • reflects the importance of strong partnerships between home, school and parish in supporting the faith development, learning and well-being of students.

What do we mean by School Advisory Bodies?

School advisory bodies encompass school boards, school councils, parent associations and other similar groups. They are an important expression of the educational partnership that exists between parents, schools, parishes and the wider community to support the learning and well-being of all students.  

School advisory bodies provide a structure and a process for shared leadership and collaborative decision-making.   

School advisory bodies (including boards and councils in systemic Catholic schools) are purely advisory in nature. They exist to provide support and advice to the Principal. They do not have a legal identity and do not become involved in the day-to-day management of the school.

Boards in Congregational (or Independent) Catholic schools often have corporate governance responsibilities.  While the information and practical resources on this site are equally valuable to these types of boards, they also have additional responsibilities and obligations under corporate governance standards that may not be addressed by this resource.

Further information on corporate governance responsibilities can be found here:

ACNC Good Governance Guidelines

Australian Institute of Company Directors

For some sections the school may have to become a member to access documents.


Pope Francis. Address to the Congregation for Catholic Education (2014)   READ MORE
Waters,T & Cameron, G. The Balanced Leadership Framework (2007)

School advisory bodies are an important expression of the educational partnership that exists between parents, schools, parishes and the wider community to support the faith development, learning and well-being of all students.

Empowering Local Schools National Partnership

The Empowering Local Schools National Partnership, an agreement between the Australian Government and the states and territories (and the Catholic and Independent School sectors) was aimed at empowering schools to better respond to local school community needs and enhance the educational outcomes of all students.

Two key elements of the National Partnership included enhancing local governance arrangements (e.g. strategic planning, school operations, decision making structures and processes that include parents and carers and community) and drawing on and building the capacity of parents and the wider community to contribute meaning fully to school life. 

Relevant Documents

ACER Review of the Literature


ACER Evaluation Report - April 2013



"Leaders create purposeful or intentional communities by developing a vision of meaningful outcomes that they can only achieve as a community.
Simply stated, they help community members answer the question,  What is it that we can do together that we cannot do as individuals?"

The Balanced Leadership Framework (2007) Waters & Cameron