HOW TO START A NEW COMMUNITY LANGUAGE SCHOOL
a guide to help you prepare
Ask around in your community; are there parents with school age children who are willing to participate and want to enroll their children in your school?
Funding under the Community Languages Schools Program is for students from K-12.
Create a ‘Student’s interested in enrolling’ form to keep track of interested families.
Once classes are set up, each parent then fills out an Enrolment Form.
Each School has to fill out a Teacher Profile Form for each teacher. This form is submitted when you apply to register your school. It records your teachers' teacher training and experience.
If you don’t have an experienced language teacher, the committee can agree for him/her to teach, if he/she agrees to undergo training.
There are free Language Teaching course being offered by NSW Department of Education and Sydney University's Sydney Institute for Community Languages Education; you can read about them here.
All teachers and volunteers who interact with students without their parents being present, have to do a Working with Children Check.
PLAN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR WORKERS (TEACHERS)
Will your teachers be volunteers, employees or independent contractors?
Generally speaking the ‘attributes’ of each category of worker are:
– Volunteers are not paid for the work that they perform, they work without a legally enforceable obligation to do so and the volunteer relationship can end at any time.
– Employees are paid for time worked, must perform the duties of their position, perform ongoing work under the supervision and control of an employer and are entitled to certain types of paid and unpaid leave.
– Independent contractors have control over how they carry out their work, are paid for results that they achieve, are contracted for a set period of time or a set task and are free to accept work from the general public and other businesses.
Merely labelling a worker a ‘volunteer’, ‘employee’ or ‘independent contractor’ does not mean they are in fact a ‘volunteer’, ‘employee’ or ‘independent contractor’.
If the matter went to court, the court would look beyond the label to the substance of the work relationship as a whole.
Sometimes the distinction between workers can change over time. For example, a worker might start out as a volunteer teacher but later become an employee or independent contractor when the organisation has more resources and is able to start paying the teacher regularly. Be aware that this might happen in your school.
Different laws apply to volunteers, employees and contractors. For example, employees are entitled to a high level of protection and benefits under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), superannuation and workers’ compensation laws. Work health and safety laws generally apply equally to employees, independent contractors and volunteers overall.
Understanding the legal differences between volunteers, employees and independent contractors is crucial for determining the obligations that you owe and protections afforded to your workers. You need to be clear with your workers about the basis on which your organisation is engaging them, and the legal entitlements owed to them.
Other organisational matters could be impacted as well. For example: whether someone is covered by your organisation’s insurance may depend on their worker status (a volunteer or employee).
Source and more info: 'National Volunteer Guide', Justice Connect. May 2020. Accessed November 2020.
If you are going to pay your teachers regularly, you will need to decide if they will be employees or independent contractors. More info on what this means at the ATO's website here.
You might also find this Hunter Community Languages webinar recording helpful: Paying CLS Workers
FIND A VENUE FOR YOUR SCHOOL
You can choose your own premises. Some schools teach in their community hall, club or religious building.
You can apply to use NSW Government School facilities for your school program.
Registered Community Languages Schools have free use of Government School facilities. It can take at least 1 year to get registered, so you may need to hire facilities for at least 12 months.
Decide on the most convenient suburb for your students to attend your language school - look at student details of where they live/go to school). Then find the government school (primary or high school) and prepare to approach that school to request hosting. Read the guide about Approaching a School to seek use of its premises.
Please note: Schools which are teaching the same language cannot operate within 2km of each other.
If a public school agrees to host your CLS, you will be required to sign a Communty Use Agreement. This is a contract between your organisation and the host school, so it is important that you familiarise yourself with the Terms of this contract - have a look at one here.
You must set up an incorporated association before you can register with and be funded by the NSW Community Languages Schools Program (CLSP).
Under the terms and conditions of the CLSP, your incorporated association must be able to demonstrate close links with a community whose first/heritage language is a language other than English.
An excellent place to start learning about setting up an incorporated association is this Governance Toolkit.
You can read more here: Setting up your incorporated association.
You will have to form a committee. Here is some information about forming a Committee.
Your first meeting will be the Annual General Meeting (AGM), when the committee members are voted in.
The minutes (a transcript of the meeting) of this meeting are often needed for opening a bank account. Minutes have to be written in English.
GET AN ABN NUMBER
Your Community Language School needs to have their own Australian Business Number (ABN). To apply for an ABN visit the Australian Business Register.
PLAN YOUR FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
You will need to track your income and expenditure. This is an example of how you can set up your book keeping with an Income, Expenditure and Petty Cash sheet.
After receiving a grant from the Department of Education, at the end of the year you will need to have information on your income and expenditure to complete a Grant Acquittal Report. You can see the Grant Acquittal Forms here (scroll to the bottom of the page).
OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT FOR YOUR SCHOOL
Open up a bank account for your non-profitable organisation. To open a bank account you will need the minutes of your Annual General Meeting. The Committee members who will be signatories have to go and meet at the bank together with their identification papers. Please ask your bank for further details about what is needed.
ORGANISE YOUR PUBLIC LIABILITY AND VOLUNTEERS' ACCIDENT INSURANCE
Your Community Language School needs to have Public Liability Insurance and insurance for your volunteers. Members of Hunter Community Languages are able to purchase their Public Liability Insurance and Volunteers Insurance at a much reduced cost.
PREPARE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR YOUR ORGANISATION
Now that you have an Incorporated Association you need to have some Policies and Procedures that say how you will run your organisation, so that you are actions are legal and ethical.
This Governance Toolkit is an excellent place to start planning your organisation's policies and procedures.
Hunter Community Languages will guide members in how to develop these very important documents.
You can start with the training at this link in how to develop your Code of Conduct.
PLAN YOUR TEACHING
Teaching resources are one of the most important parts of your school. You can get resources by:
asking in your community - are there other Community Languages Schools for your language in NSW? Find them here and ask them for suggestions;
contacting people you know in your country to send out materials;
producing your own materials.
Once you have collected some resources, you can plan what you will teach.
Hunter Community Languages will help you to develop your teaching plan.
Once the school is ready for operation you need to ensure that all of the School administration and funding forms are filled in. You can access these form here: https://education.nsw.gov.au/public-schools/community-languages-schools/community-languages-school-forms
After 3 months (1 term) of operation of school, you can apply for an Establishment Grant. The Education Officer can help you.
More information about starting a Community Languages School can be found on the Department of Education's website: https://education.nsw.gov.au/public-schools/community-languages-schools
The Community Languages Schools Program Guidelines are available here.