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School Governing Bodies

What is a School Governing Body?

A School Governing Body (SGB) is tasked with ensuring that the school runs smoothly and efficiently. Such democratically elected SGBs are critical to:

  • improve quality of education;
  • ensure good governance;
  • ensure that schools serve the interests of the community and meet expectations of parents;
  • assist in spreading the cost of education across users and society as a whole and to
  • combat racism, sexism and all other forms of unfair discrimination and intolerance.

SGBs are accountable to the school community and should work with dedication and commitment to create the conditions to achieve quality learning and teaching in all our schools.

What does the SGB do?

Governing bodies have a key role to play around making policies relating to issues such as language, religious instruction, school fees and a code of conduct for learners. However, it must be noted that governing bodies are compelled to make policies that:

  • Allow all South African children to enter the schooling system;
  • Promote values of non-racialism and equality between boy and girl learners;
  • Help communities to respect and tolerate all religions and cultures in our country;
  • Encourage children to speak a range of our country’s languages and which
  • respect children’s rights and promote non-violent ways of solving problems.

Composition of a School Governing Body (SGB)

An SGB is made up of:

  • Elected members;
  • The Principal by virtue of his or her official capacity; and
  • Co-opted members.

Elected members of the SGB comprise the following members:

Parents or guardians of learners at the school

A parent means the biological parent or guardian of a learner or the person legally entitled to custody of a learner. A parent also means the person who undertakes to fulfil the obligations of a parent or guardian, or the person legally entitled to custody of a learner.A parent who is employed at the school may not represent parents on the governing body.

Educators at the school

An educator is a person who teaches, educates or trains other people, or who provides professional educational services, including professional therapy and educational psychological services at an institution. This includes educators employed by the school.

Learners in Grade 8 or higher

Only learners in Grade 8 or higher who are elected members of the Representative Council of Learners (RCL) can serve on the SGB. Learners with special educational needs Grade 8 or higher can also be elected if this is reasonably practicable.

Members of staff who are not educators

These members are all institutional staff members appointed according to the Public Service Act, 1994 (Act103 of 1994), who are not educators at the institution, including those employed by the school.

The SGB of a special school should be composed as follows:

  • Parents of learners enrolled at the school, if reasonably practicable;
  • Educators at the school;
  • Members of staff at the school who are not educators;
  • Learners in Grade 8 or higher, if reasonably practicable;
  • Representatives of:
    -Organisations of parents of learners with special education needs, if applicable;
    -Sponsoring bodies, if applicable; and
    -Organisations of disabled persons, if applicable;
  • Disabled persons, if applicable;
  • Experts in relevant fields of special needs education; and

The Principal by virtue of his or her official capacity.

A person will not be eligible to be a member of a governing body if he or she:

  • Is mentally ill and has been declared as such by a competent court;
  • Is an unrehabilitated insolvent;
  • Has been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment without the option of a fine for a period exceeding six months or has not yet served his or her full period of imprisonment; or
  • No longer falls within the category of members that he or she represented at the time of the election size of SGB
  • The number of parent members must be one more than the combined total of the other members of a governing body who have voting rights.

Co-opted members

Two types of co-opted members can serve on the governing body, namely co-opted members with voting rights and those without voting rights. Co-opted members without voting rights are those members recruited by the SGB because of their expertise in areas that may benefit the SGB and the entire school.

How is someone elected? Who is eligible?

  • Nominations will be held
  • Nominees should be persons as in 1 above.
  • Elections are conducted via a secret ballot. A person with a right to vote must record his or her vote on the ballot paper in secrecy and deposit the folded ballot paper in a box or other closed container provided for the purpose. The person with the most votes is elected first, the second most second, and so on until all the seats in the SGB are filled. Those who got too few votes to be elected onto the SGB are told that they were not elected and are thanked and excused.

Term of office and vacancies in the SGB

The term of office in the SGB, with the exception of the learner component, may not exceed three years. The term of office for the learner component is one year.SGB office-bearers should hold office for one year only. Office-bearers may stand for re-election based on performance.Should a vacancy be created due to the departure of an elected member, a co-opted member with voting rights can be nominated and appointed to serve on the SGB for a period not exceeding 90 days. During these 90 days a formally elected member who has been elected by way of a by-election must fill the vacancy.