Staffing a Community Language School

It takes a community to run the school. You will need committee members, volunteers, teachers and parents to come together and bring the school to live.

With a little planning, it can all be done.

2 Steps


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.


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