Emil Ford Lawyers

The steps that all Victorian schools must take before 1 July 2019

Revised guidelines issued by the Victorian Registration & Qualifications Authority will impact any school that is registered or looking to register in Victoria. The Guidelines supersede guidelines issued in 2017 and were approved by the VRQA in December 2018. All Victorian schools must comply with the revised Guidelines before 1 July 2019.

The role of the Guidelines is to inform schools of the documentation and other evidence that they need to hold to satisfy the VRQA that they are meeting the minimum standards. The minimum standards relate to areas including school governance, not-for-profit status, enrolment, curriculum and school infrastructure. Since many of the evidence requirements have been recently updated, we draw attention to some of the key changes that schools, principals and their board members should be aware of.

Conflict of Interest Register

A school is now required to maintain a conflict of interest register for all of its responsible persons. The principal of the school is a responsible person, as is anyone who sits on the school board or has responsibility in the school governance structure for managing the school or its finances. Accompanying the conflict of interest register must be an explanation by the school of how any conflict will be managed.


The Guidelines confirm that a school which is generating a profit or surplus is not, of itself, disqualified from being a ‘not-for-profit’ entity. If a school applies its profits or surpluses towards the conduct of the school and does not distribute them to any other person or entity, it is ‘not-for-profit’. A key indicator that a school is ‘not-for-profit’ is that it is not a party to a prohibited agreement. An example of a prohibited agreement is where the school or responsible person of the school:

  • pays or diverts any of the profit or surplus made by the school to another person or entity (other than a payment made in good faith for the provision of goods and services to the school);
  • makes a payment to another person or entity which is excessive compared to the reasonable market value of the costs currently prevailing in the community for payment for that purpose; or
  • arranges a gift, loan or similar payment to another person or entity for a purpose not connected to the conduct of the school.

Agreements, Contracts or Loans with Third Parties

Schools must have evidence of agreements, contracts, loans or other arrangements that the school has with third parties, including related entities or any organisations affiliated with the school. This is especially important to religious schools which have affiliations with particular religions or denominations. Any agreements that the school has with third parties must be on commercial terms and must not be a prohibited agreement. For example, a school that purchases land at an inflated price from a religious body with which it is affiliated is likely to be a party to a prohibited agreement.

Other Evidence

For non-government schools, there must also be evidence of:

  1. A list of each responsible person in the school, their role and a summary of their qualification and experience.
  2. A publically available enrolment agreement with parents or guardians which covers areas including codes of conduct, fees, educational services provided and the grounds on which the enrolment agreement may be terminated.
  3. Copies of all delegations from the governing body. For example, financial or non-financial delegations made from the school governing body to the school principal.
  4. Details of the member(s) of the company, if the school is a company limited by guarantee. 
  5. A description of how the school enacts its philosophy. Previously, only a statement of the school philosophy was required.

The Guidelines make many more changes to the evidence requirements. Other affected areas include the provision of services to students with disabilities, international students, student behaviour management, curriculum and attendance monitoring. We encourage all Victorian schools to read the Guidelines at this link and contact if you have any questions about how the changes will affect you.

David will be speaking about this topic, with a particular emphasis on the Australian Education Act, at the National School Law and Regulation Conference on the Gold Coast on 29 – 30 August 2019. More details, including registration are here.

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