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EACEA National Policies Platform



Last update: 27 October 2020

A Level

A General Certificate of Education (GCE) A Level is a single subject Level 3 qualification, generally 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 working within a common regulatory framework.


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.

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.

Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan

An Education, Health and Care plan is a legal document issued by the local authority that specifies the education, health and social care support that is to be provided to a child or young person who has special educational needs (SEN) or a disability.

Free school

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

Further education (FE) 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. As well as offering technical and vocational courses for school-leavers and adults, they are also major providers of many types of learning, including full-time general education programmes for 16- to 19-year-olds and some higher education programmes.


A General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is a single subject qualification typically taken at age 16 after two years of study. Students typically take GCSEs in 8+ subjects. Higher grade GCSEs are Level 2 qualifications on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) and lower grades are Level 1. GCSEs are provided by external awarding organisations.

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 governors and, according to the legal category of school, foundation/trust governors or partnership governors.

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 colleges.

Local authority

A local authority is an administrative unit of local government.  The areas in which it has responsibilities include education, public health, recreation and leisure, children’s services, youth services and housing.

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 39 LEPs in England.

Looked after child (LAC)

A looked after child (LAC) is a child who is in the care of the local authority. 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 using grants from central government

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.

Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC)

A Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) works with school leaders to take action in underperforming schools.

Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF)

The Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) describes all regulated qualifications in England, grouping them according to their level of difficulty (running from Entry Level to Level 8).

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.

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.

Social impact bonds

Social impact bonds channel investment into interventions which tackle social issues. Investors are then repaid on the basis of specified social outcomes being achieved.

Special educational needs and disability (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.

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

University Technical College (UTC)

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

Voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector

The voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector includes small local community and voluntary groups, registered charities, both large and small, foundations, trusts and a growing number of social enterprises and cooperatives. These are often also referred to as Third Sector organisations or civil society organisations.