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Published on Eurydice (https://eacea.ec.europa.

eu/national-policies/eurydice)

A Level

A General Certificate of Education (GCE) A Level is a single subject Level 3 [1] qualification typically
taken at age 18 after two years of post-16 study. Students typically take A Levels in 3+ subjects.
These qualifications are provided by external awarding organisations [2] working within a common
regulatory framework. A Levels are graded A* to E, where A* is the highest grade (U is unclassified). A
Levels in England have recently undergone significant reform. New qualifications, with reformed
content and assessment mainly by exam at the end of the course, were introduced from 2015.

A2

Prior to recent reforms of A Levels [3], the A2 was the second half of the full A Level qualification.

Academy

An academy is a publicly funded independent school. Academies have individual funding agreements
directly with the Secretary of State and enjoy certain freedoms relating to organisation and the
curriculum. They may not charge fees. The academies programme includes schools of different
phases and types: primary and secondary schools; sponsored and converter academies; special
schools; free schools; university technical colleges (UTCs); studio schools and alternative provision
academies.

Academy chain

An academy chain is a group of academies working together under a shared structure that is either a
multi-academy trust (MAT) [4] or an umbrella trust.

Academy trust

An academy trust is the accountable body for an academy. It is a charitable company limited by
guarantee and the legal entity which has entered into a funding agreement with the Secretary of
State to run one or more academies. It has two layers of governance: 1) members, who have ultimate
responsibility for the trust achieving its charitable objectives and have power to appoint and remove
trustees; and 2) trustees, who collectively, as the board of trustees, set the vision, ethos and strategic
direction of the school, hold the headteacher to account and oversee financial performance.

Access agreement

An access agreement is a strategic document that sets out how a higher education institution (HEI) [5]
will promote fair access for under-represented students and those from lower income backgrounds,
for example, through measures such as outreach work and financial support. An HEI must have an
access agreement approved by the Director of Fair Access and Participation at the Office for Students
(OfS) to be able to charge fees higher than a specified amount for fee-regulated courses. Access
agreements will be replaced by access and participation plans from 2019/20 onwards.

Access and participation plan

An access and participation plan is a strategic document that sets out how a higher education
institution (HEI) [5] will improve equality of opportunity for underrepresented groups to access,
succeed in and progress from higher education. Access and participation plans replace access
agreements [6] from 2019/20 onwards. An HEI must have an access and participation plans approved
by the Director of Fair Access and Participation at the Office for Students (OfS) to be able to charge
fees higher than a specified amount for fee-regulated courses.

Access to Higher Education Diploma

The Access to Higher Education Diploma is a qualification which prepares people without traditional
qualifications for study at university. Courses are available in a range of different subjects, such as
nursing, social studies, law, and art and design. They are typically delivered by a further education
college as a one-year full-time programme.

Admission authority

An admission authority is the body that sets the admissions arrangements for a school, in accordance
with the School Admissions Code. Depending on the school's legal category, the admission authority
may be the school governing body [7], the academy trust or the local authority.

Alternative provider

An alternative provider (AP) is a provider of higher education that is not funded by regular
government grants. APs can be for-profit or not-for-profit, and of any corporate form.

Alternative provision (AP)

Alternative provision (AP) is education arranged by local authorities [8]for pupils who, because of
exclusion, illness or other reasons, would not otherwise receive suitable education. It includes
education arranged for pupils being directed by schools to off-site provision to improve their
behaviour.

Alternative Provision (AP) academy

An Alternative Provision (AP) academy is a unit that provides education for pupils who would
otherwise not receive suitable education because of illness, exclusion or because they are otherwise
unable to attend mainstream provision. A pupil referral unit offers similar provision but is legally a
maintained school.

Applied General qualification

An Applied General qualification is a Level 3 qualification designed to be taken at age 18 after two
years of post-16 study. It provides broad study of a vocational area and aims to equip students with
transferable knowledge and skills. Applied General Qualifications fulfil entry requirements for a range
of higher education courses and, since 2016, have counted towards school / college performance
table measures.

AS Level

A General Certificate of Education (GCE) AS Level is a single subject Level 3 [1] qualification typically
taken at age 17 after one year of post-16 study. AS Levels are provided by external awarding
organisations [2] working within a common regulatory framework. AS Levels and A Levels [3] in
England have recently undergone significant reform and new qualifications, with reformed content,
have been introduced. AS Levels are now standalone qualifications. (Prior to the reforms, A Levels
were modular, with AS Levels contributing 50% of the total marks). AS Levels are graded A to E,
where A is the highest grade (U is unclassified).

Assessment without levels

Assessment without levels refers to pupil assessment in Key Stages 1 to 3. It was introduced following
the 2014 revision of the national curriculum, which removed the system of eight levels previously
used to describe pupil performance in national curriculum subjects.

Attainment 8

Attainment 8 is a secondary school accountability measure based on student attainment at the end of
Key Stage 4, aged 16. It shows average student achievement across a suite of eight GCSE [9] subjects:
maths and English, three additional EBacc subjects and three further qualifications that can include
approved non-GCSE qualifications.

Autumn Statement

The Autumn Statement was a budget statement outlining the state of the economy and proposals for
changes to taxation and government spending. It was previously one of two annual budget
statements - the Spring Budget and the Autumn Statement - made by the Chancellor of the
Exchequer to Parliament. The Government has moved to a new timetable, with a single major fiscal
event each year. From autumn 2017, the Budget Statement will be delivered in the autumn only and
will be known as the Budget.

Awarding organisation

An awarding organisation is a body recognised by the qualifications regulator (Ofqual) for the purpose
of developing and awarding qualifications recognising learner achievements. Awarding organisations
providing general (academic, rather than vocational) qualifications are often known as exam boards.

Bachelor's degree

A bachelor’s degree is a first cycle higher education [10]qualification at Level 6 of the Framework for
Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ).

Centre

A centre, sometimes known as an examination centre, conducts examinations and assessments on


behalf of an awarding organisation. In most instances, centres are schools and colleges, although they
may also be training providers, adult education centres, offender learning units or employers.
Children's Centre

A Children’s Centre is, under the Childcare Act 2006, a place or a group of places managed by or on behalf
of the local authority [8]with a view to ensuring that early childhood services in the local authority’s area
are made available in an integrated way. Some Children’s Centres are based around a nursery school or
primary school and offer childcare and early education along with other services. Others provide no
childcare or education but operate as family centres, offering opportunities for community participation,
and are used by local authorities for targeted prevention services. Fees are charged for childcare and
education but providers can access government funding for part-time provision for children from age three
(age two for disadvantaged children).

Class (of degree)

The class of a degree refers to the grade awarded to a bachelor’s degree awarded with honours. There are
four points on the scale: first class; second class, which is subdivided into upper second and lower second;
and third class. A bachelor’s degree may also be awarded without honours in which case it is not classified.

Coasting school

A coasting school is one which becomes eligible for formal external intervention because pupil attainment
and progress have fallen below a specified level over three consecutive years. The precise definition of
coasting is set by regulations made under the Education and Adoption Act 2016.

Collective worship

An act of collective worship is an act of a reverential or reflective nature that schools are required to
provide on a daily basis. In schools with a religious character, collective worship is provided in accordance
with the trust deed or religious designation of the school. In schools without a religious character,
collective worship should wholly or mainly be of a broadly Christian character, but not denominational. In
some schools, collective worship of a Christian character is deemed to be inappropriate for pupils. In such
cases, it is possible for the school to apply for a determination for the Christian character requirement to
be lifted.

Community school

A community school is a category of maintained school. Community schools are fully funded for both
revenue and capital expenditure. The school premises (land nd buildings) are owned by the local
authority [8]. The local authority employs the staff and is the admission authority.

Comprehensive school

A comprehensive school is a secondary school which does not select students on the basis of
academic ability. Most secondary schools are comprehensive schools.

Converter academy

A converter academy is a school which has voluntarily converted to academy status since 2010.
Converter academies were usually high performing schools at the time of conversion.

Curriculum

The curriculum comprises all the learning and other experiences that each school plans for its pupils.
It is shaped by: legal requirements for the curriculum; (in the case of an academy) the school’s
funding agreement; any trust deed or religious designation of the school; inspection and
accountability frameworks; and the school’s particular needs and circumstances.

Day nursery

A day nursery is a centre-based setting which provides all-day care for babies and children up to the
age of five. Providers include employers, private companies, voluntary organisations and the local
authority [8]. Day nurseries usually charge fees but can access government funding for part-time
provision for children from age three (age two for disadvantaged children).

Degree Awarding Powers (DAP)

Degree-awarding powers (DAP) are the powers held by a university or other body legally approved to
award UK degrees. There are different types of DAP:

1. foundation degree awarding powers (FDAP)


2. taught degree awarding powers (TDAP), which allow institutions to award bachelor’s degrees
and taught master’s degrees
3. research degree awarding powers (RDAP), which allow institutions to award research master’s
degrees and doctorates.

Devolved administration (DA)

Devolved administration (DA) is a term used to refer to the executive formed by one of the devolved
legislatures within the UK: the National Assembly for Wales, the Scottish Parliament or the Northern Ireland
Assembly. In all cases, the UK Parliament remains sovereign, and retains the power to amend the
devolution Acts or to legislate on any matters that have been devolved. That said, the UK Government will
not normally introduce legislation on a devolved matter without the consent of the devolved legislature.
England has no devolved legislature or administration.

Directed time

Directed time is the time when, in accordance with the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document
(STPCD), a teacher must be available to carry out duties, including attending staff and parent meetings,
under the direction of the headteacher. It amounts to a maximum of 1265 hours in a school year.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check

A Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is a service provided by the Disclosure and Barring Service
(DBS) to help employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working
with vulnerable groups, including children.

Doctorate

A doctorate is a third-cycle higher education [10]qualification at Level 8 of the Framework for Higher
Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ). The degree of Doctor of
Philosophy, abbreviated to PhD (or DPhil in some universities), is awarded for the creation and
interpretation of new knowledge, or application of existing knowledge in a new way, at the forefront of an
academic discipline, usually through original research. The New Route PhD or integrated PhD combines
research with a structured programme of training in research methods and transferable professional skills.
Early years foundation stage (EYFS)

The early years foundation stage (EYFS) is the phase of education and care spanning the period from
birth to age five. It covers education and care in different types of provider in the voluntary and
private sectors as well as the publicly funded schools sector (maintained schools and academies). The
Early Years Foundation Stage Framework is the common regulatory framework which sets out the
standards which all early years providers in public, private and voluntary settings must meet.

Early years pupil premium (EYPP)

The early years pupil premium is an additional funding allocation for early years providers designed to
tackle educational inequality through extra funds for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

EBacc

The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is a secondary school performance measure which allows people
to see how many pupils at the end of Key Stage [11] 4 (age 16) achieve a ‘good’ or ‘strong’ GCSE [9] in
a number of core academic subjects. It was first introduced in 2010.

Education, health and care (EHC) plan

An education, health and care (EHC) plan is a document which identifies the educational, health and
social needs of children and young people up to the age of 25 which cannot be met by mainstream
support. Plans are issued to a child or young person by their local authority [8] following an EHC
assessment process, under the Children and Families Act 2014. EHC plans replaced statements of
special educational needs.

Entitlement area

Entitlement areas are groupings of school subjects that are not compulsory for pupils, but which
schools must make available. Maintained schools must ensure that pupils in Key Stage 4 (age 14 to
16) are able to study a subject in each of four entitlement areas:

the arts (comprising art and design, music, dance, drama and media arts)
design and technology
the humanities (comprising geography and history)
modern foreign languages.

Entry Level

Entry Level is one of the levels of the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). Regulated
qualifications are grouped into Levels on the RQF, from Entry Level to Level 8, based on their
difficulty. Entry Level is further subdivided into Entry 1, 2 and 3 to support learners who have basic
skills needs. Examples of qualifications at Entry Level are: Entry Level Award, Certificate and Diploma;
Entry Level Functional Skills.

Exclusion

Exclusion is the banning of a pupil from a school on disciplinary grounds. An exclusion can be for a
fixed term (sometimes known as 'suspension') or, less commonly, it can be permanent (sometimes
known as expulsion).
Executive headteacher

An executive headteacher is an executive leader who directly leads two or more schools in a
federation [12] or other partnership arrangement. In a large group of schools, for example a large
multi-academy trust, an executive headteacher may report to a chief executive officer (CEO).

Faith school

Faith school is a common term for a school that is designated as having a religious character. The
great majority of faith schools are associated with either the Church of England or the Roman Catholic
church, but there are also a small number of Jewish, Muslim and Sikh schools. The religious character
may be reflected in the religious education curriculum, admission criteria and staffing policies,
provided this does not conflict with other legislation.

Federation

A federation is an arrangement in which maintained schools collaborate formally. Schools in


federations continue to be individual schools, keeping their existing legal category and character, but
are governed by a single governing body [7]. The ability to establish federations was introduced under
section 24 of the Education Act 2002.

Floor standard

The floor standard represents the minimum standard for student achievement and progress that the
Government expects schools to meet. Schools that fall below the floor standard may be subject to
external intervention.

Foundation degree

A foundation degree is a short-cycle higher education [10]qualification at Level 5 of the Framework for
Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ). Foundation degrees
are designed with a particular area of work in mind, and are developed with the help of employers
from that sector. They aim to equip students with the relevant knowledge and skills for business and
cover a wide range of subjects, from engineering to e-commerce and health and social care. They are
predominantly delivered through partnerships of further and higher education institutions.

Foundation school

A foundation school is a type of maintained school within the framework established by the School
Standards and Framework Act 1998. It is fully funded by government through the local authority [8]for
both revenue (recurrent) and capital expenditure. The governing body [7]is the admission authority
[13]and employs the staff. Trust schools are a form of foundation school.

Free school

A free school is an academy established as new provision i.e. not established by the conversion of an
existing maintained school.

Free school meals (FSM)

Free School Meals (FSM) are a statutory benefit available to children from families who receive other
qualifying state benefits. Eligibility for free school meals is used as a proxy measure of deprivation.
Further education (FE)

Further education (FE) is education for people over the age of full-time compulsory education (16
years) which does not take place in a secondary school. It is often vocational but also includes general
(academic) programmes.

Further education college

A further education (FE) college is an institution legally constituted as a further education


corporation, established or designated under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.
Traditionally, FE colleges offered mainly technical and vocational courses for school-leavers and
adults, but now their missions are more varied and they are major providers of many types of
learning, including full-time general education programmes for 16- to 19-year-olds and some higher
education [10]programmes.

General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE)

A General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is a single subject qualification typically taken at
age 16 after two years of study in Key Stage [11] 4. GCSEs are provided by external awarding
organisations [2] working within a common regulatory framework. Students typically take GCSEs in 8+
subjects. GCSEs are graded 9 to 1, where 9 is the highest grade. Higher grade GCSEs are Level 2
[14] qualifications on the RQF, and lower grades are Level 1 [15]. GCSEs in England have recently
undergone significant reform. New qualifications, with reformed content, were introduced from 2015.

Governing board

Governing board is the term used to refer to the accountable body for a publicly funded school. The
form this takes as a legal entity varies. In the case of a maintained school, it is the school governing
body, while in an academy, it is the board of trustees (see academy trust).

Governing body

A governing body is a corporate body set up by law to govern a maintained school. It is made up of
parent and staff governors, local authority [8]governors and, according to the legal category of school,
foundation / trust governors or partnership governors. It has three core functions: setting the school's
vision, ethos and strategic direction; holding the headteacher to account; and overseeing financial
performance. The governing body operates at a strategic level, leaving the headteacher to be
responsible and accountable for the day-to-day operation of the school. The term governing body is
also used to refer to the accountable body for other education providers, which may take various
constitutional forms.

Graduate

A graduate is a person who holds a bachelor's [16] or higher degree. Graduation is the formal conferment of
this award. The term is not generally used to describe successful completion of lower levels of education.

Grammar school

A grammar school is a school which selects all or almost all pupils on academic criteria. Only schools which
already had selective arrangements in place prior to 1998 are permitted to select pupils on the basis of
high academic ability.
Guided learning hours (GLH)

Guided learning hours (GLH) is an expression of the size of a regulated qualification. Guided learning
is defined as time when staff are present to give specific guidance towards a learning aim being
studied. This can include lectures, tutorials and supervised study. Ofqual (the regulator) requires that
the qualifications it regulates are assigned a value for GLH. GLH can be combined with an estimate of
the time a learner will spend in preparation, study and assessment to provide Total Qualification Time
(TQT).

Higher degree

A higher degree is a degree above bachelor's level such as a master's degree [17]or doctorate [18].

Higher education (HE)

Higher education (HE) is defined by the Education Reform Act 1988 as education provided by means
of a course of a standard higher than the standard of courses leading to the GCE A Level or Business
and Technology Education Council (BTEC) National Diploma or Certificate. This definition embraces
Levels 4 to 8 of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern
Ireland (FHEQ), including short-cycle qualifications below the level of a bachelor’s degree [16]. Higher
education can be provided in different types of institution: in higher education institutions [5]directly
funded by government through the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE); in further
education [19]institutions; and by alternative providers.

Higher education institution (HEI)

Higher education institution (HEI) is a term from the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. Under
the Act, it means any provider which is one or more of the following: a UK university; a higher
education corporation; an institution designated as eligible to receive support from funds
administered by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), aside from further
education [19]colleges.

Higher National Diploma (HND)

A Higher National Diploma (HND) is a vocational higher education qualification designed to teach the
skills required in a particular area of work. HNDs are at Level 5 of the Framework for Higher Education
Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ) and typically take two years of full-time
study to complete.

Home education

Home education, sometimes referred to as 'elective home education', is the term used to describe
education provided by parents who choose to educate their child at home instead of sending him / her
to school.

Honours degree

An honours degree is a bachelor's degree awarded with honours. Most bachelor’s degrees are
awarded with honours. A bachelor’s degree awarded without honours is known as a pass degree or
ordinary degree.
Independent school

An independent school is a school which is not a maintained school, at which full-time education is
provided for five or more pupils of compulsory school age (whether or not such education is already
provided for pupils over or under that age). Independent schools other than academies do not receive
any public funding. Independent schools that do not receive public funding are commonly known as
‘private schools’. They may also be known as ‘public schools’.

Induction

Induction is the period of three school terms (i.e. an academic year) that a newly qualified teacher
(NQT) [20] is required to serve on appointment to a post as a school teacher. During induction, an NQT
is employed in a paid post, with a reduced teaching timetable. S/he receives support in the form of a
personalised programme of development, involving professional dialogue, with monitoring and an
assessment of performance against nationally set standards.

ISCED

The International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) was developed by UNESCO to facilitate
comparisons of education statistics and indicators across countries on the basis of uniform and
internationally agreed definitions. It was revised in 1997 and 2011. ISCED is the organising framework
used for Eurydice system descriptions and comparative studies. To see how this framework applies to
education in England, see the overview [21].

Key stage

A key stage is one of the four stages or blocks of years into which the national curriculum [22]is
divided. The four key stages are defined according to the age of the majority of the pupils in a
teaching group. They are:

Key Stage 1 for ages 5-7


Key Stage 2 for ages 7-11
Key Stage 3 for ages 11-14
Key Stage 4 for ages 14-16.

Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA)

A Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA) was a legal document issued by the local authority that set
out the support and learning provision required by a young person aged 16 to 25 with learning
difficulties and / or disabilities. Under the Children and Families Act 2014, LDAs were replaced by
Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

Lecturer

A lecturer is a member of the academic staff at a higher education institution [5]. A lecturer holds
teaching and administrative responsibilities and undertakes his or her own research.

Level

Qualifications, both general and vocational, are grouped into levels within the Regulated
Qualifications Framework (RQF), from Entry Level to Level 8. Qualifications at the same level are of
similar difficulty, but the size and content can vary. ‘Level’ can also refer to a level within the
Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ). The
levels, designated 4–8, are comparable to Levels 4–8 of the RQF.

Level 1

General and vocational qualifications are grouped into Levels, from Entry Level to Level 8.
Qualifications at the same level are similar in terms of their difficulty, but their size and content can
vary. Examples of qualifications at Level 1 on the RQF are: GCSE (grades D-G, or 1-4/5); BTEC Award,
Certificate and Diploma.

Level 2

General and vocational qualifications are grouped into Levels, from Entry Level to Level 8.
Qualifications at the same level are similar in terms of their difficulty, but their size and content can
vary. Examples of qualifications at Level 2 on the RQF are: GCSE (grades A*-C, or 4/5-9); BTEC Award,
Certificate and Diploma Level 2; Functional Skills Level 2.

Level 3

General and vocational qualifications are grouped into Levels, from Entry Level to Level 8.
Qualifications at the same level are similar in terms of their difficulty, but their size and content can
vary. Examples of qualifications at Level 3 on the RQF are: AS and A Level; BTEC Award, Certificate
and Diploma Level 3.

Level 4

General and vocational qualifications are grouped into Levels, from Entry Level to Level 8.
Qualifications at the same level are similar in terms of their difficulty, but their size and content can
vary. Examples of qualifications at Level 4 on the RQF are: Level 4 Certificate of Higher Education;
BTEC Professional Award, Certificate and Diploma Level 4.

Level 5

General and vocational qualifications are grouped into Levels, from Entry Level to Level 8.
Qualifications at the same level are similar in terms of their difficulty, but their size and content can
vary. Examples of qualifications at Level 5 on the RQF are: HND; foundation degree.

Level 6

General and vocational qualifications are grouped into Levels, from Entry Level to Level 8.
Qualifications at the same level are similar in terms of their difficulty, but the size and content can
vary. Examples of qualifications at Level 6 on the RQF are: bachelor’s degree [16]; Level 6 Award,
Certificate and Diploma.

Level 7

General and vocational qualifications are grouped into Levels, from Entry Level to Level 8.
Qualifications at the same level are similar in terms of their difficulty, but their size and content can
vary. Examples of qualifications at Level 7 on the RQF are: master’s degree [17]; Level 7 Award,
Certificate and Diploma.
Level 8

General and vocational qualifications are grouped into Levels, from Entry Level to Level 8.
Qualifications at the same level are similar in terms of their difficulty, but their size and content can
vary. Examples of qualifications at Level 8 on the RQF are: doctorate; Level 8 Award, Certificate and
Diploma.

Linear qualification

A linear qualification is one which is designed to be assessed at the end of the programme. Linear
qualifications can be contrasted with modular qualifications, in which learning is broken down into
units or modules designed to be assessed separately.

Local authority (LA)

In the context of education legislation, a local authority is the tier of local government with
responsibility for education for children and young people from 0 to 19. Formerly, the function of the
local authority in respect of education was described by the term 'local education authority' (LEA).

Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

A Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is a voluntary partnership between a local authority and
businesses, established to determine local economic priorities and lead economic growth in its area.
There are 38 LEPs in England. They were first established in 2010 by the then Department for
Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Local governing body (LGB)

A local governing body (LGB) is a school-based body within a multi-academy trust (MAT) [4]. An LGB
may govern one school or more than one. LGBs may also exist with no delegated governance
functions i.e. as advisory bodies.

Looked after child (LAC)

A looked after child (LAC), under the terms of the Children Act 1989, is a child who is in the care of the
local authority [8]. Looked after children include children who are accommodated by the local
authority under a voluntary agreement with their parents; children who are the subject of a care
order; and children who are the subject of an emergency order for their protection.

Maintained school

A maintained school is a school funded via the local authority [8]using grants from central
government. Maintained schools include several different legal categories of school including
community schools, voluntary aided schools, voluntary controlled schools and foundation schools.
Until recently, the great majority of publicly funded schools in England were maintained schools but,
since 2010, maintained schools exist alongside a growing proportion of academies.

Master's degree

A master’s degree is a second cycle higher education [10]qualification at Level 7 of the Framework for
Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ). Master’s degrees,
such as MSc and MA, are awarded after completion of taught courses or programmes of research, or a
combination of both.

Middle school

A middle school is a school catering for pupils from age 8 or 9 to 12 or 13. Middle schools exist in a
few areas only, where schools are provided in a three-tier system in which pupils progress from a first
/ primary school to a middle school and then to a secondary school.

Modular qualification

A modular qualification is one which is designed to be taken in units – or modules - which are
individually assessed. When all the required units have been taken, an overall grade is issued. They
can be contrasted with linear qualifications, for which all assessment takes place at the end of the
programme.

Multi-academy trust (MAT)

A multi-academy trust (MAT) is an academy trust in which the board of trustees is accountable for a
number of academies. The MAT may delegate some governance functions to a local governing body.

National curriculum

The national curriculum [23]sets out programmes of study for subjects that must be taught to all pupils
aged five to 16. It is not intended to be the whole school curriculum but is a statutory requirement
within the whole school curriculum for maintained schools (though not for academies).

National Qualifications Framework (NQF)

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) existed alongside the Qualifications and Credit
Framework (QCF) until October 2015, when they were replaced by the Regulated Qualifications
Framework (RQF).

National Vocational Qualification (NVQ)

A National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) is a work-based qualification developed using agreed sector-
wide standards.

Newly qualified teacher (NQT)

A newly qualified teacher (NQT) is a teacher who has Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) but who has not
yet completed the statutory induction [24] period.

Non-association independent school

A non-association independent school is an independent school that does not belong to an


independent school association. Whilst independent schools which belong to an association are
inspected by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, non-
association independent schools are not.

Non-departmental public body (NDPB)

A non-departmental public body (NDPB) is an organisation (or body) which plays a role in the processes of
national government, but is removed from Ministers as it does not form part of a government department.
Nursery school

A maintained nursery school (usually referred to simply as a nursery school) is a publicly funded
standalone school catering for children aged from two or three to five. The term nursery school is also
used by independent early years education providers. Independent nursery schools charge fees but can
access government funding for part-time provision for children from age three (two for disadvantaged
children).

Phonics screening check

The phonics screening check is a statutory assessment for all children reaching the end of Year 1 (age 6) in
maintained [25] primary schools. The check tests pupils’ phonic decoding skills – or how well they know and
understand English sounds, how these sounds correspond to the alphabet, and how they interact with each
other to form spoken words. It enables teachers to identify pupils who need extra help with their reading
skills. It was introduced in 2012.

Playgroup

See pre-school.

Post-1992 university

A post-1992 university is a university that gained university status as a result of the provisions of the
Further and Higher Education Act 1992.

Postgraduate

A postgraduate is a student following a postgraduate programme. A postgraduate programme is a higher


education [10]programme which normally requires a bachelor's degree [16]as a condition of entry.
Postgraduate programmes include not only programmes leading to a higher degree such as a master’s
degree [17]or a doctorate [18], but also advanced short courses which often form parts of continuing
professional development programmes and which lead to a postgraduate certificate or postgraduate
diploma.

Pre-1992 university

A pre-1992 university is a higher education institution which had university status before the provisions of
the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 came into force.

Pre-school

A pre-school is an early years education setting run by a community / voluntary group, parents
themselves, or privately. Pre-schools charge fees but can access government funding for part-time
provision for children from age three (two for disadvantaged children). Similar settings may be known as
playgroups or nurseries.

Primary school

A primary school is a school catering for children who are approaching or have reached the
compulsory school starting age of five, up to the age of 11. Primary schools provide Key Stages [11]1
and 2 of the national curriculum [22](ISCE [26]D 1) and a reception class [27](ISCED 0). Many primary
schools also provide a nursery class for younger children.
Private school

See independent school.

Privy Council

The Privy Council is a senior UK government committee which has a role in areas of higher education
[10], including approving the use of the word ‘university [28]’ (including ‘university college [29]’) in the
title of a higher education institution, and approving an institution as competent to grant degrees.

Professor

A professor is a member of the academic staff at a higher education institution [5]. The title of
‘professor’ may be awarded to a member of staff who has made an outstanding contribution to
original research over a significant period of time, and is widely and internationally recognised as a
distinguished authority in their field.

Programme of study

In the context of the national curriculum, a programme of study sets out the subject content (matter,
skills and processes) for those subjects that should be taught to all pupils, organised on the basis of
key stages. It does not prescribe teaching time.

Progress 8

Progress 8 is a secondary school accountability measure that aims to encourage schools to teach a
broad curriculum and reward schools that teach all pupils well. It compares students’ scores at the
end of Key Stage [11]4 (age 16) across a suite of eight GCSE (Attainment 8 [30]) subjects with the
achievements of students with the same prior attainment at the end of primary education (age 11).
Progress 8 scores have been included in the school and college performance tables since 2016.

Protected characteristic

A protected characteristic is a category protected under the Equality Act 2010. The following are the
protected characteristics to which the Act applies: age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and
civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation. The
Act seeks to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.

Public school

See independent school.

Publicly funded school

A publicly funded school, sometimes referred to as a ‘state school’, is legally either a maintained
school or an academy. Publicly funded schools receive full funding for all students and may not
charge fees.

Pupil Premium

The pupil premium is an additional funding allocation designed to tackle educational inequality by
providing schools with extra funds for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. It was first introduced
in 2011.

Pupil Referral Unit (PRU)

A pupil referral unit (PRU) is a unit that provides education for pupils who would otherwise not receive
suitable education because of illness, exclusion or because they are otherwise unable to attend
mainstream provision. Pupil referral units are maintained by the local authority and are legally
defined as schools. An alternative provision academy offers similar provision but is legally an
academy.

Qualification

A qualification is an award made to a learner attesting to validated attainment. Qualifications may be


either general (academic) or vocational.

Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)

The Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) was a credit transfer system which recognised
qualifications and units by awarding credits. It existed alongside the National Qualifications Framework
(NQF) until October 2015, when they were replaced by the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).

Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) is a professional accreditation based on standards set by the Secretary
of State, which define the minimum level of practice expected of teachers. QTS is mandatory for
appointment as a qualified teacher in a maintained school and, although no longer mandatory for
appointment in an academy, the great majority of teachers continue to have this accreditation. Most
initial teacher training programmes leading to QTS also lead to an academic qualification such as the
PGCE or Bachelor of Education (BEd)

Reader

A reader is a member of the academic staff at a higher education institution [5]. The title of ‘reader’
may be awarded as a mark of personal distinction to a senior member of staff who has made a
distinguished contribution to the advancement of their discipline, by way of original research and/or
innovative application.

Reception class

A reception class (ISCED 0) is the first class in primary school [31], catering for children aged four to
five. Most children are admitted to primary school in the September after their fourth birthday and
spend a full year in reception class. However, children may be admitted at different points in the
school year depending on age and parental preference, as education is compulsory from the start of
the school term following a child's fifth birthday, not from the start of the academic year.

Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC)

A Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) works with school leaders to take action in underperforming
schools. The eight RSCs operate across eight regions of England and are accountable to the National
Schools Commissioner. When the role was introduced in September 2014, RSCs were responsible for
intervening in underperforming academies and building capacity in the academy system. Since then,
the role has expanded to cover addressing underperformance in maintained schools and, under the
Education and Adoption Act 2016, tackling coasting schools.

Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF)

The Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) describes all regulated qualifications in England
and Northern Ireland. In use since October 2015, the RQF retains the same system for grouping
qualifications according to their level of difficulty (running from Entry Level to Level 8) as its
predecessors, the QCF and NQF. Within each level, qualifications can vary in terms of their purpose
and size. Unlike the QCF, the RQF does not require qualifications to be combined of units which are
credit-bearing.

Research council

A research council is one of the seven subject-specific councils funded by the UK Government to
support research in their own establishments and to fund research projects in universities on a UK-
wide basis. The research councils were brought under a single strategic research body, UK Research
and Innovation (UKRI), under the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.

School and college performance tables

School and college performance tables are published annually by government with the aim of
providing a reliable and accessible source of comparative information on student progress and
attainment at three key points: Key Stage [11]2 attainment (age 11, end of primary education); GCSE
[9] and equivalent results (Key Stage 4, age 16); A Level and equivalent Level 3 results. The data is
published at school / college level. Data that could identify individual students is suppressed.

Secondary school

A secondary school is a school catering for children and young people who are aged 11 to 16 or
18/19. Secondary schools provide Key Stages [11]3 and 4 of the national curriculum [22]and often also
provide education for students aged 16 to 18/19 years in units known as ‘sixth forms’.

Secretary of State

A Secretary of State is a government Minister appointed by the Prime Minister who is responsible for
the political leadership of a government department. In the context of schools legislation, the
Secretary of State (SoS) refers to the Minister responsible for the department with responsibility for
schools.

SEN support

Special educational needs support (SEN support) is the support given to a child or young person in
their pre-school, school or college from within the school or college’s overall budget, up to a nationally
prescribed threshold per student per year. If the child or young person’s needs cannot be met through
SEN support, then an Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment is made by the local authority.

SENCO

A special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) is the member of staff designated to oversee special
educational needs (SEN) [32] provision in a mainstream school or maintained nursery school.
Designation of a SENCO is a requirement under the Children and Families Act 2014.
SEND

Special educational needs and disability (SEND) is a term that brings together terms used for children
and young people aged 0-25 reflecting that, under the Children and Families Act 2014, the
assessment and provision of education, health and care services for children and young people were
brought together into a single framework.

Sixth-form college

A sixth-form college is a type of further education college that offers only full-time education for 16- to
18/19-year-olds.

Sixth form

Sixth form is a term that may be used to describe full-time education for young people aged 16 to
18/19 when provided in a school or a sixth-form college. The two years of study are also referred to as
Year 12 and Year 13.

Special educational needs (SEN)

Special educational needs (SEN) is defined by the Children and Families Act 2014 as a learning
difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made. A child of compulsory
school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if s/he: has a significantly greater
difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age; or has a disability which prevents or
hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same
age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions.

Special school

A special school provides education for children whose special educational needs (SEN) cannot be met
satisfactorily in a mainstream school. Special schools are generally much smaller than mainstream
schools and may have pupils ranging in age from nursery age to over 16.

Sponsored academy

A sponsored academy is a school which has converted to academy status with the support of a sponsor.
The sponsor could be a charity, philanthropist or another school. Sponsored academies were usually lower
performing schools at the time of conversion.

State school

See publicly funded school.

Statement of special educational needs (SEN)

A statement of special educational needs (SEN) [32] is a legal document issued by the local authority
[8] that describes a child’s special educational needs and the special education provision needed.
Under the Children and Families Act 2014, statements have been replaced by education, health and
Care (EHC) plans [33].
Student support

Student support is the term used to refer to financial support for higher education [10]students' tuition
fees and living costs, provided in the form of grants and loans provided by government.

Studio school

A studio school is an academy for 14- to 18/19-year-olds of all abilities, which offers an academic and
vocational curriculum and qualifications taught in a practical and project-based way through
enterprise projects and real work.

Supply teacher

A supply teacher is a teacher appointed on a temporary contract to cover for an absent teacher.

Teaching assistant

A teaching assistant works alongside a teacher in the classroom, helping pupils with their learning on
an individual or group basis. Job titles and roles vary and can include specialised pupil support roles
for pupils with special educational needs [32] or for pupils who are not making expected progress.
Higher level teaching assistants undertake an extended role, e.g. they may plan and deliver learning
activities under the direction of a teacher.

Tech Bacc

The Technical Baccalaureate (TechBacc) is a school / college performance measure that recognises the
achievement of students taking advanced (Level 3) programmes which include a government-
approved Tech Level Level 3 maths and extended project qualifications.

Teaching fellow

A teaching fellow is a member of the academic staff at a higher education institution [5]. A teaching
fellow may have the same teaching and administrative duties as a lecturer, but does not necessarily
undertake research.

Teaching school

A teaching school is designated by government to provide training and support for other schools in its
local area, for which it receives a core grant. Each teaching school leads a teaching school alliance,
consisting of the teaching school, the schools benefitting from support, together with external
partners who deliver some aspects of training and development, such as higher education institutions
[5], local authorities [8] and private sector organisations.

Tech Level

A Technical Level qualification, or Tech Level, is a Level 3 qualification in a specific recognised occupation,
such as engineering, computing, accounting or hospitality. Tech Levels are designed to be taken at age 18
after two years of post-16 study. They equip students with specialist knowledge and skills, enabling entry
to an apprenticeship, other skilled employment or a technical degree. In some cases, these qualifications
provide a ‘licence to practise’ or exemption from professional exams. Tech Levels were announced in 2013
and have counted towards the TechBacc school / college performance table measure since 2016.
Technical Award

A Technical Award is a broad Level 1 or Level 2 qualification designed to be taken alongside GCSEs by
students aged 14 to 16. They equip students with applied knowledge and associated practical skills. Up to
three Technical Awards can count towards the Progress 8 school performance measure. Technical Awards
were announced in 2014 and will count towards school / college performance table measures from 2017.

Technical Certificate

A Technical Certificate is a Level 2 qualification relating to a specific industry, occupation or occupational


group. Technical Certificates are designed to be taken after one year of post-16 study. They equip
students with specialist knowledge and skills, enabling entry to an apprenticeship, employment or
progression to a Tech Level. In some cases, they provide a ‘licence to practise’ or exemption from
professional exams. Technical Certificates were announced in 2014 and will count towards school/college
performance table measures from 2017.

Tiering

Tiering is a feature of qualifications designed for a wide ability range. For example, mathematics GCSE [9]
has two tiers of entry: higher and foundation. There are different exams for different tiers and these are
used to award overlapping ranges of grades. There are some common questions to help ensure that it is
no more or less difficult to achieve the same grade on different tiers.

Total Qualification Time (TQT)

Total Qualification Time (TQT) is a measure of the notional size of a qualification. It comprises two
elements:

1. guided learning hours (GLH)


2. an estimate of the number of hours a learner will spend in preparation, study and assessment.

Ofqual (the regulator) requires that the qualifications it regulates are assigned a value for TQT.

Trust school

See foundation school.

Umbrella trust

An umbrella trust is a vehicle for collaboration created by some academies [34]. While the academies
in an umbrella trust remain separate charitable trusts with their own funding agreements with the
Secretary of State [35], they create an additional charitable trust with functions that reflect their
mutual interests.

Undergraduate

An undergraduate is a higher education [10]student who has not yet taken a first degree.
Undergraduate programmes include bachelor's degrees [16]and foundation degrees [36].

University

The right to use the title university is regulated by law. An organisation wishing to apply for approval
to use the title must have been granted powers to award taught degrees. It must also normally have
at least 1000 full-time equivalent higher education students, of whom at least 750 are registered on
degree courses (including foundation degree programmes). The number of full-time equivalent higher
education [10]students must also exceed 55 per cent of the total number of full-time equivalent
students, and the institution must be able to demonstrate that it has regard to the principles of good
governance as relevant to the sector.

University college

The right to use the title university college is protected by law. The process for gaining the title is
similar to that for gaining university title, but does not require a provider to have as many students.

University Technical College (UTC)

A University Technical College (UTC) is a type of academy for 14 -to 18/19-year-olds which is
sponsored by a local university and employers. UTCs specialise in one or two technical curriculum
areas (e.g. engineering, science) and teach core GCSEs alongside technical qualifications.

Validation

In the higher education context, a validation relationship occurs when a degree-awarding provider
assesses a course delivered by another provider and approves it as being of an appropriate standard
and quality to contribute, or lead, to one of the degree-awarding provider’s awards. Students normally
have a direct contractual relationship with the provider delivering the course, not the institution that
validated it.

Vice-Chancellor

A Vice-Chancellor is the lead academic and administrative officer at a university. The Vice-
Chancellor’s main responsibilities include providing leadership, representing the university externally,
ensuring that the university has a secure financial base, and carrying out certain ceremonial duties.

Voluntary aided school

A voluntary aided (VA) school is a type of maintained school within the framework established by the
School Standards and Framework Act 1998. Most VA schools are designated as having a religious
character. They are owned either by school trustees or by the founding body of the school (such as
the Church of England, the Catholic Church, or other faiths). Within the governing body, the Church or
Foundation governors form a majority. The governing body employs the staff and is the admission
authority. VA schools receive full funding from government for revenue expenditure, but may be
expected to contribute a small proportion of capital costs.

Voluntary controlled school

A voluntary controlled (VC) school is a type of maintained school within the framework established by
the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. Most VC schools are designated as having a religious
character. They are owned either by school trustees or by the founding body of the school (such as
the Church of England, the Catholic Church or other faiths). Within the governing body, no one group
of governors is in a majority. The local authority (LA) employs the staff and is the admission authority.
VC schools receive full funding for revenue (recurrent) and capital expenditure from central
government (via the LA).
Article last reviewed November 2018.

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