What is an SPC?
Under the School Act, the School Planning Council (SPC for short) has been legislated as an advisory body that develops, monitors and reviews the goals of a school. The group consists of the principal, an elected teacher representative, three elected parents and a student (in the case of secondary schools). Every school in BC must have an SPC. In consultation with the school community, the role of an SPC is to prepare a school plan (set goals) for improving student achievement in the school and for other matters contained in the school board’s accountability contract relating to the school. This is a very different mandate from that of a Parent Advisory Council. For detailed information, please read below.
The Purpose of School Planning Councils in BC
The purpose of SPCs is to formally acknowledge the importance of parent involvement in improving student achievement in our schools. SPCs are part of the Ministry of Education’s Accountability Framework created to focus attention and resources on improving the achievement of all students in BC. The Accountability Framework creates an annual accountability cycle in every school, district, and the Ministry of Education. The cycle involves school plans, the district accountability contract, and district review. Before SPCs came to BC schools, some schools and districts included parents in planning. Now, with an SPC in every school, all parents in the province play a major role in planning for improvement of student achievement in their school. The SPC must consult with the Parent Advisory Council and involve the school community in developing, monitoring, and reviewing the annual school plan.
The Structure of School Planning Councils
An SPC is a group within a school consisting of the principal and representatives of the teachers, parents, and students (in the case of secondary schools). Every school in BC must have an SPC. The SPC is established by the school board, with representatives elected or appointed at the school. [School Act, s. 8.1(1)]
Members of the SPC are:
1) the principal of the school
2) one of the teachers at the school, elected annually by secret ballot by the teachers who teach at the school
3) three representatives of the school PAC elected annually by secret ballot by the PAC. Each PAC representative must be a parent or guardian of a student enrolled in the school. One of the representatives must be an
elected officer of the PAC.
4) in schools that enroll grade 10, 11, or 12 students, one student of school age enrolled in one of those grades. The student is appointed annually by the principal after consulting with the students enrolled in those grades.
[School Act, s. 8.1(3)]
If any of these positions is not filled, the school board has authority to fill the vacancy. [School Act, s. 8.1(5)] A parent or guardian who is employed by any school board in BC is not eligible to serve as a PAC representative on an SPC.
[School Act, s. 8.1(7)] (A parent or guardian employed by an independent school constituted under the Independent School Act is eligible to serve on the SPC of a public school if the parent or guardian has a child enrolled in that public school.) Each member of the SPC has one vote. The SPC may invite non-members to attend SPC meetings as advisors, consultants, observers, or representatives of the school community, but non-members may not vote.
Elections to the SPC must be held every year. Members of a previous SPC may be re-elected. [School Act, s. 8.1(6)] The Role of School Planning Councils Under the School Act, the SPC in each school has only one role—to prepare a
school plan for improving student achievement in the school and for other matters contained in the school board’s accountability contract relating to the school. The SPC must submit its school plan to the school board by a date set by the board. The board must approve a school plan for every school in the district. [School Act, s. 8.3(1) and (2)] Before approving the school plan, the board may consult with the SPC about modifying the plan. It may even require the SPC to modify the plan.
1) the SPC does not submit a school plan
2) the SPC does not comply with a direction to modify the plan, or
3) the board rejects the plan
then the board can direct the principal to prepare and submit a school plan without the SPC. [School Act, s. 8.3(4), (5), and (6)] In order to prepare a school plan each year, the SPC must monitor and review the implementation and results of the current school plan.
The SPC may advise the school board, and the board must consult with the SPC, on certain matters:
1) the allocation of staff and resources in the school
2) matters contained in the board’s accountability contract relating to the school
3) educational services and programs in the school. [School Act, s. 8.2]
The SPC may not discuss or give advice regarding:
1) personal or confidential information on students, teachers, other employees, parents, or community members
2) performance or conduct of individual students, teachers, other employees, parents, or community members
3) terms and conditions of employment contracts
4) personnel matters (The SPC should be familiar with collective agreements in the school and district. SPCs may discuss collective agreements in order to understand how they affect school planning.)
5) other matters beyond its advisory or consultative roles under the School Act.
The School District’s Accountability Contract
The school plan is part of the annual accountability cycle in every school, district, and the Ministry of Education. By October 31st each year, every school board must submit an accountability contract to the Minister of Education.
The accountability contract contains goals, strategies, and rationale for improving student achievement in the district and other matters the Minister may require. [School Act, s. 79.2] The most important information in the development of the district’s accountability contract comes from the school plans created by every school in the district. School plans are the board’s primary source of information about what needs to be done to improve student achievement in the district. School plans tell the board what each school community is thinking about student achievement in the school, where the greatest needs lie, and the best practices SPCs have found to achieve goals. SPC members, and the school community at large, can take pride in their contribution to improving student achievement for all students in their district.