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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 typically taken at age 18 after two years of post-16 study. Students typically take A Levels in 3+ subjects.

Additional learning needs (ALN)

Additional Learning Needs (ALN) is a term that applies to children and young people aged 0 to 25 in early years, schools and further education, replacing the terms ‘special educational needs’ (SEN) and ‘learning difficulties and/or disabilities’ (LDD). Formal introduction of the term is subject to approval by the National Assembly for Wales of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill.

Awarding Organisation

An awarding organisation is a body recognised by the qualifications regulator 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.

Community interest company (CIC)  

A community interest company is a special type of limited company which exists to benefit the community rather than private shareholders. The company's assets must only be used to further its social objectives and there are limits on the money that can be paid to shareholders.

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. 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 18/19-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 in Key Stage 4.  Higher grade GCSEs are Level 2 qualifications on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF), and lower grades are Level 1. Students typically take GCSEs in 8+ subjects.

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; or a designated institution.

Learning difficulties and / or disabilities (LDD)

The term ‘learning difficulty’ is defined in the Learning and Skills Act 2000 as meaning those having ‘a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of people of that age, or having a disability which prevents the use of facilities generally provided by post-16 education and training providers’. A disability is defined under the Equality Act 2010 as a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. A young person aged from 16 to 25 with learning difficulties and / or disabilities may require additional support to that provided to their peers to succeed in education and training.

Local authority

A local authority is an administrative unit of local government. There are 22 local councils in Wales with a variety of functions including education, public health, cultural and leisure services, youth services and housing.

Looked after child (LAC)

A looked after child (LAC) is a child who, under the terms of the Children Act 1989, 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.

National Vocational Qualification (NVQ)

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

Pupil Referral Unit (PRU)

A Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) is a unit that provides education for pupils whose main education is other than at school, which they are unable to attend due, for example, to illness or exclusion. Legally a type of school, PRUs are intended to provide short-, medium- or long-term placements with a view to reintegrating pupils, as soon as practicable, in a primary, secondary or special school or to prepare pupils for transition to further education, training or employment.

Revenue Support Grant (RSG)

The Revenue Support Grant is the main source of local authority funding. It is distributed to local authorities by the Welsh Government using a commonly agreed formula.  Local authorities have discretion over how they spend their allocation of RSG on the services for which they are responsible, which include schools.

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. 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.

Special educational needs (SEN)

Special educational needs (SEN) is defined, by the 1996 Education Act, as a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for a child of compulsory school age (up to 16). He or she 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.