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The governance functions of school boards are established in common and statute law, and high standards of due diligence are required from all directors and officers of the company in the exercise of their duties and responsibilities.

To assist the boards of member schools to meet their responsibilities, AISNSW provides advice on school governance issues and conducts governance training via workshops, courses, conferences and online modules.

In accordance with NESA regulations, all directors of school boards must undertake 12 hours of professional learning in governance over a three-year time frame. Training must be predominantly in the context of school governance, and provided by a NESA approved training body.

AISNSW Governance Workshops

Governance workshops cover a range of topics and can be designed specifically to educate and assist your school board. The workshops are regularly updated in response to changes in legislation and regulations, improvements in recognised best practice and the changing needs of independent schools.

The purpose of the workshops is:

• to raise governors’ awareness of their legal obligations as directors of public companies

• to examine the relationships between the school board, the chair of the board, the head of the school and the business manager

• to promote best practice in the governance of independent schools.

The workshops are a key element in the provision of high quality, proactive support to member schools and can be customised to meet the specific needs of individual school boards.

The structure of the program is divided into two sessions, which can be chosen from the options below.

The program is typically offered on Saturdays however reduced programs are available mid-week or evenings upon request. For the school’s convenience the workshops are conducted at the school. The program is complimentary to member schools as part of the membership subscription. Participation will also attract credit to satisfy the NSW Education Standards Authority Registration and Accreditation Standards.

Online Training Modules

This online suite of self-paced Governance modules are designed to provide essential knowledge and understanding for prospective or newly appointed members to school governing bodies. These online activities will also be valuable for current members of school boards to ensure they understand their governance role and are able to discharge their financial and legal responsibilities. Click here for an overview of the 2019 Governance Modules.

Governance for School Council Members

Wednesday, 12th June 2019 or Thursday, 7th November 2019

This program provides insight and support for members of school councils. 

The following themes will be explored:

  • the changing independent school environment
  • an effective governance framework
  • making a unique contribution by assessing the skills you bring to the role
  • determining fit with the school ethos
  • taking responsibility for determining your new role on the council
  • scenario analysis and problem solving
  • planning for making a unique contribution to the school.
Assisting Board Members to Understand Child Abuse

Boards and Councils of independent schools are responsible for ensuring that schools are child safe environments. As school boards supervise school executive staff and their management of risk, it is critical that they understand the legislative framework related to child protection and the dynamics of abuse so that they can support their executive staff in the development of protective strategies including policies and procedures, to ensure a culture of safety.

Governance Online Module - Child Protection Legislation

This self-paced online course provides an essential overview of the legislation in NSW that relates to child protection. As a board member you should have a clear understanding of the school’s obligations in relation to protecting children, in particular reporting obligations. This online course will assist you to develop an understanding of the four key strands of legislation that relate to safeguarding of children in NSW.

Governance Resource Manual

The AISNSW Governance Resource Manual (GRM) was developed to assist member schools meet their registration requirements in relation to governance: standards for the ‘proper governance’ of independent schools were introduced by Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) in October 2014.

On 1 January 2017 NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) replaced BOSTES. NESA has made a number of revisions to its registration requirements for non-government schools, including changes to Section 3.9 of its manual, Management and Operation of the School.

The AISNSW Governance Resource Manual has been updated to reflect the changes in NESA requirements.

The GRM has also be restructured to help schools efficiently manage the process of documenting their policies and procedures in relation to governance. This new structure does not remove the necessity for schools to contextualise their governance processes. However, the revised GRM provides a more structured framework enabling schools to demonstrate ‘evidence of compliance’ in an orderly sequence following the NESA requirements.

Introduction - Using the GRM

3.9.1 Responsible Persons

3.9.2 Refusal of Registration – Disclosure

3.9.3 Proper Governance

  • Policies and Procedures
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Related Party Transactions
  • Professional Learning
  • Induction Process
  • Independent Audit

3.9.4 Financial Viability

3.9.5 Notification of Matters.

Board Appraisal

AISNSW conducts a School Board Appraisal (SBA) process as part of a suite of governance services to independent schools in NSW. The SBA process seeks to assess how successfully a board discharges its dual responsibilities of compliance and performance, and how these processes may be improved to further the effectiveness of governance, and the mission and purposes of the school.   

The SBA process collects quantitative and qualitative data in relation to ten key areas of board effectiveness and performance:

Effectiveness Domains

  • Board Selection
  • Induction, mentoring and training,
  • Monitoring and assessing the School’s achievement of key goals and objectives
  • Ensuring short and long term financial stability
  • Relationships between Principal and Chair
  • Confidentiality
  • Current strengths and areas of improvement
  • Issues for the coming year
  • Board skill set
  • Future issues

The SBA process is facilitated by Chris Duncan, Division Head of Governance.


  • Documentation: Reviews board related documentation including the constitution, board charter, annual report and various board policies.
  • Interviews: Confidentially interviews all board members individually including the Principal, and Business Manager (assuming he/she acts as company secretary for the Board). Interviews gather qualitative data in relation to the above key areas of board performance and also enable board members to reflect, provide insights and pose questions about the  dynamics and effectiveness of the board’s processes. Interviews provide insight into the functioning of the Board.
  • Surveys: Responses to written surveys of individual board members provide quantitative data in relation to Board Meetings, Communication, Board Work and Roles and Relationships. Responses to written surveys serve the strategic activities of the board with a greater focus on mission and purpose. All data and responses to the written surveys are provided in a clear graphical format.
  • Observations, Conclusions and Recommendations.


AISNSW provides a wide range of core services to member schools as part of their annual membership of the Association. The School Board Appraisal Process is a fee for service option for member schools. The cost of this service to the participating member school is $5000.