Glossary for boards and clerks

Glossary for boards and clerks

The world of education is full of acronyms and terms which can be confusing for both new members of the board and more experienced governors and trustees.  If an unfamiliar reference is made within a meeting don't hesitate to ask for clarification about what it means or stands for!  When preparing the minutes the clerk should explain any acronyms in full the first time they appear.  Below we have provided a glossary of commonly used acronyms and educational terms, but new ones seem to pop up all the time, so please let us know of any we should add to the list.


Academy Academies are publicly funded independent schools. Academies have different governance arrangements from other schools

Academy committee A committee of the trust board in a Multi Academy Trust (MAT). The role and responsibility of any committee is defined in the MAT’s scheme of delegation (see also local governing body)

Academy converter A school which converted to academy status voluntarily (usually high performing at the time of conversion), having previously been a local authority maintained school

Academy, sponsor led A school which converted to academy status with the support of a sponsor (usually lower performing at the time of conversion)

Admissions Code A document providing statutory guidance on schools admission with which all schools must comply

Articles of Association The Articles of Association provide the formal governing document for an academy and sets out its rules for operating, including the composition of the governing board. 

ASCL Association of School and College Leaders – a headteacher union

Associate members Individuals appointed by the governing board of a maintained school. They are not part of the board, but are allowed to attend meetings and sit on committees and can be given voting powers at committee level. They are appointed for 1-4 years, with the opportunity for re-appointment. An associate member is appointed on the basis of the skills they bring to the committee they serve. Academies’ Articles of Association allow them to appoint non-governors/trustees to committees and give them voting rights.  Further information is available on the recruitment page of this website.

ASP Analyse School Performance (ASP) has replaced RAISEonline which closed on 31st July 2017.  Access to this service is via the Department for Education’s Secure Access portal, governors and trustees can be given access to view detailed performance analysis to support local school improvement

Assessment without levels A common phrase to describe changes to the primary curriculum. Grade descriptions and levels have been removed from the national curriculum and it is up to primary schools to decide how they track pupil progress and attainment. Children take Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 as a national benchmark, however they are not given a grade, but a scaled score; with a score of 100 or above showing that a pupil has met the national expectations

ATL Association of Teachers and Lecturers – a union for education professionals

Attainment 8 A headline measure of school performance at GCSE introduced from 2016. Attainment 8 measures the achievement of a pupil across English, maths and six further qualifications, further information can be found on the DfE website

Attainment targets These establish what children of different abilities should be expected to know and be able to do by the end of each key stage of the national curriculum

AWPU Age-Weighted Pupil Unit – the amount of money allocated to the school for each pupil according to their age. This is the basic unit of funding for the school


Babcock LDP  Babcock Learning Development Partnership

Baseline assessment Assessment of pupils’ attainment on entry to year 1.  This is not statutory, but schools may decide to conduct baseline assessments in reception



Capital funding Spending on projects, improvements, and extensions to the school’s land and buildings

Chair’s action In maintained schools the chair is allowed to take decisions without asking the governing board if a delay will be detrimental to the school, a member of staff, a pupil or a parent.  Chair's action can only be used for areas where delegation is permitted, so the chair could not act alone to approve the budget, or appoint a senior member of staff.  In academies, this power is not automatic and must be delegated to the chair

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) The lead professional and head of the executive group for a multi-academy trust (MAT). Although not being a headteacher in any school, this individual will be the line manager for leaders within the individual schools in the trust; and will be ultimately accountable to the governing board for all aspects of the MAT as a whole

Coasting school A school or academy whose performance falls within the government’s coasting definition and may therefore be eligible for intervention

Clerk (or Governance Professional)  Professional-quality clerking is about much more than taking minutes to record the discussions and decisions of the board. It is also about providing governing boards with expert advice on governance, procedures and compliance and directly contributing to its efficient conduct.  Professional clerking has a vital role to play in meeting the administrative and procedural requirements of boards and enabling efficient and effective discussion and decision making

Clerking Competency Framework  A document developed by the Department for Education (DfE) outling the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to provide professional clerking to the governing boards of maintained schools, academies and multi-academy trusts

Collaboration An agreement between two or more schools to work together on one particular issue. They keep their individual governing boards, but may set up a joint committee to which they can delegate powers

Community schools Maintained schools at which the Local Authority (LA) is the employer, owns the land and buildings and sets the admission criteria. The LA also take a proportion of income known as ‘top slice’ for the provision of central services such as HR, legal support etc.

Community special schools Maintained schools which make special educational provision for pupils with statements of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or education, health and care plans (EHCPs), whose needs cannot be fully met from within mainstream provision. The LA is the employer, owns the land and buildings and sets the admission criteria

Competency framework for governance A document developed by the DfE, setting out the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed for effective governance

Competitive tendering Obtaining quotes or tenders from alternative suppliers before awarding contracts

Co-opted governor/trustee Appointed by the governing board, on the basis of their skills.  Further information is availble on the recruitment page of this website

CPD Continuing Professional Development for school staff, the governing board or the clerk

CPOMS - Safeguarding and Child Protection Software for Schools


DAG Devon Association of Governance, local organisation representing the governor voice, all governors/trustees and clerks within Devon schools are automatically members

DAPH Devon Association of Primary Heads

DASH Devon Association of Secondary Heads

DDA Disability Discrimination Act

DEF Devon Education Forum, made up of representatives from schools and academies, (including governors/trustees) but with some representation from other non-school organisations, such as nursery and 16-19 education providers. Devon County Council has agreed that the Forum will be consulted on all educational issues that affect young people aged 0 – 19

Delegated budget Money provided to schools, which boards can manage at their discretion

Delegated powers Authority given to a committee, an individual governor/trustee or the headteacher to take action on behalf of the governing board. In multi academy trusts this also refers to powers delegated to local governing bodies within individual schools in the trust

Devon Audit Partnership assess schools and boards against the Schools Financial Value Standard (SFVS)

The Devon Children and Families Partnership (DCFP) This partnership was established on the 1st July 2017.  It merges the functions of the Devon Safeguarding Children Board (DSCB) and the Children, Young People and Families Alliance (Alliance). Devon Local Safeguarding Children Board’s statutory duties are discharged through this new partnership

DfE Department for Education – the government department responsible for schools and children

Directed time Time when a teacher must be available to carry out duties, including attending staff and parent meetings, under the direction of the headteacher – a maximum of 1265 hours in a school year

Disapplication A term used where national curriculum requirements may not apply to a pupil

DSG Dedicated School Grant – funding from central government to the LA, the majority of which is then delegated directly to individual schools through the LA’s funding formula


EAP Excellence for All Programme a dedicated programme in Devon to support all schools to become and remain good or better and ensure they meet the needs of all pupils. Includes a self-evaluation document for schools and boards to complete in September each year

EEF Education Endowment Foundation

EAL English as an Additional Language

EBacc A school performance measure based on achievement of GCSEs in ‘core academic subjects’ of English, maths, history or geography, the sciences and a language

EBD Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties

ESFA Education and Skills Funding Agency – a single funding agency accountable for funding education and training for children, young people and adults (formerly the Education Funding Agency and Skills Funding Agency)

EHC plans Education, health and care plans – the document which replaces statements of SEN and Learning Difficulties Assessments for children and young people with special educational needs

ESO Education Supervision Order, which LAs may apply for to deal with cases of poor attendance at school

Ethos The morals, values and beliefs that underpin the school culture

EWO Education Welfare Officer – a professional worker who visits pupils’ homes and deals with attendance problems and other welfare matters in co-operation with the school

Ex officio Able to hold office and attend meetings by virtue of holding a particular office, for example the headteacher.  Further information is available on the recruitment page and the reconstitution page of this website

Exclusion The temporary or permanent removal of a pupil from school for serious breaches of the school’s behaviour and discipline policy

Executive headteacher Unlike a traditional headteacher who leads one school only, an executive headteacher is the lead professional of more than one school; or a lead professional who manages a school with multiple phases; or who has management responsibility significantly beyond that of a single school site

Executive leaders Those held to account by the board for the performance of the organisation. This may be the CEO, executive headteacher, headteacher or principal, as well as other senior employees/staff, depending on the structure of the organisation

Extended schools/ Enrichment services Schools that provide a range of services and activities often beyond the school day, to help meet the needs of the pupils, their families and the wider community


Federation Two or more LA maintained schools governed by one board

FFT Fischer Family Trust  A non-profit making company providing data and analysis to LAs and schools in England and Wales

FIPS Financial Intervention Panel, Schools  Devon County Council panel supporting boards to set a balanced budget

Foundation schools Maintained schools in which the governing board is the employer, owns the land and buildings and sets the admission criteria

Foundation special schools Maintained special schools, which have the same freedoms as foundation schools (see above)

Foundation stage Curriculum followed by children below statutory school age, in schools and nursery/pre-school provision

Free school A type of academy, either a new school set up in response to parental demand or a fee-paying school joining the state education system

FSM Free school meals; pupils are eligible for FSM if their parents receive certain benefits.  Pupils who qualify for free school meals are also eligible for pupil premium funding, so it is important for schools to encourage alleligible parents to claim. 

Funding agreement The document which sets out the relationship between an academy/MAT and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)/Department for Education (DfE)


GIAS Get Information About Schools.  Government database.  Schools must use GIAS to provide the required information relating to the individuals involved in governance at their setting. Maintained school governing boards are under a duty to provide this information through the Education Act 1996; the requirement for academy schools is contained within the Academy Financial Handbook. The information must be kept up to date when changes occur. It is worth noting that each school in a federation has a separate DfE number, so they appear separately on GIAS, therefore the governance information will need to be completed for each school in the federation. The information is collected and published through a secure site which is accessed via the school’s username and password.

GCSE General Certificate of Secondary Education. 

GCSE grading  The new GCSEs in England have a  9 to 1 grading scale, to better differentiate between the highest performing students and distinguish clearly between the old and new exams.  Grade 9 is the highest grade and will be awarded to fewer students than the previous A* grade.  The first exams in English language, English literature and maths GCSEs were taken in summer 2017 and the rest of the new GCSEs are being rolled out over a three year period 


Headteacher Board Each Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) has a board of elected headteachers of academies in their area to advise on and scrutinise their decisions

HLTA Higher Level Teaching Assistant

HMCI Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools

HMI Her Majesty’s Inspector

HSE Health and Safety Executive

Hub Board  A governing board established to oversee a group of schools, often within a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT).  The hub board is, in effect, a committee of the trust board and may have delegated responsibilities, which will be defined in the Scheme of Delegation (SoD)


IEP Individual Education Plan for pupils with special educational needs

IGCSE International GCSE

INSET In-Service Education and Training; training for teachers and other school staff.  All maintained schools are required to open for 197 days, of which pupils should attend for 190 days during each academic year. Schools are allowed to set two days of occasional holiday and five staff training (INSET) days 

Instrument of Government A legal document setting out the composition of maintained school boards.  The Instrument of Government can be changed through reconstitution, please see the relevant page on this website for guidance


KPI’s Key Performance Indicators. Used to evaluate the success of a school or of a particular activity in which it engages

KS 1–4 Key stages 1-4. The four stages of the national curriculum: KS1 for pupils aged 5-7; KS2 for 7-11; KS3 for 11-14; KS4 for 14-16

KS5 Key stage 5, this applies to 16-19 year-olds but is not part of the national curriculum


LA Local authority  The LA has certain responsibilities regarding education, for example the educational achievement of looked-after children and for school places planning. Devon County Council will also provide other services to schools, provided via a service level agreement through Babcock LDP to maintained schools and academies

LA Governor Nominated by the LA but appointed by the governing board, further information is available on the recruitment page

LAC Looked After Children  Children who are in care provision. May also refer to children who have been in care at any time in the last six years.  The Virtual School will consider outcomes for this group of children across the county.  Individual schools will be held to account for the progress and attainment of looked after children through the virtual school governing board

LACSEG Local Authority Central Spend Equivalent Grant – the funding academies receive to meet their additional responsibilities

LDP Learning Development Partnership

LGB Local governing body; a term often used to describe the governance of an individual school within a MAT.  Local governing bodies are, in effect, committees of the trust board; they can be delegated responsibility for items, but accountability will remain with the trust board.  The Scheme of Delegation will define if the LGB has any delegated responsibilities, or is purely advisory

LGC Local governing committee; a term often used to describe the governance of an individual school within a MAT.  Local governing committees are, in effect, committees of the trust board; they can be delegated responsibility for items, but accountability will remain with the trust board.  The Scheme of Delegation will define if the LGC has any delegated responsibilities, or is purely advisory



Maintained schools Publicly funded schools overseen by the local authority. These schools must follow the national curriculum and national pay and conditions guidelines

MAT Multi academy trust; where two or more academies are governed by one trust (the members) and a board of trustees (the trustees)

MAT board Common term for the board of trustees overseeing a multi academy trust

Mixed ability A teaching group in which children of all abilities are taught together


NAHT National Association of Head Teachers – a headteacher union

NASBM National Association of School Business Managers

NASUWT National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers – a teaching union

National College National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL).  An executive agency, sponsored by the Department for Education.  NCTL's aims are to improve academic standards by recruiting and developing a workforce to meet the needs of the school system, and to help schools to help each other to improve. They aim to work towards developing a 0 to 18 education system to allow new ways of working to support the best schools, headteachers, and teachers to lead improvements in the quality and training of all school staff 

National curriculum This was established by the 1988 Education Reform Act to ensure that all pupils receive a broad and balanced education, which is relevant to their needs. Academies do not need to follow the national curriculum, but many choose to do so

National Schools Commissioner (NSC) A civil servant responsible for co-ordinating the work of the eight Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs)

NFER National Foundation for Educational Research

NGA National Governance Association. The national membership organisation for school governors, trustees and clerks

Non-teaching (support) staff Members of the school staff employed to provide services in a school, such as teaching assistants, meal time assistants, cleaners and office staff. 

NOR Number on roll; the number of pupils registered to attend the school

NPQH National Professional Qualification for Headship – training for new or aspiring headteachers

NQT Newly Qualified Teacher

NUT National Union of Teachers – a teaching union


Ofqual Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Register; the regulator of examinations and qualifications

Ofsted Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills; the body which inspects education and training for learners of all ages and inspects and regulates care for children and young people


PAN Published Admissions Number The number of children the LA (or governing board of a foundation or voluntary aided school or academy trust) determines can be admitted to any one year group in the school

Parent governor/trustee Member of the governing board elected by the parents of the school’s pupils.  Further information and an election toolkit is avaialble on the recruitment page

Peripatetic teacher One who teaches in a number of schools, to give specialist instruction, e.g. in music

PE and sports premium Funding for years 1 to 6 to provide additional PE and sport beyond that already provided in the curriculum.  Boards must report on their use of the funding by publishing information on the school website

PFI Private Finance Initiative

PGCE Post-Graduate Certificate of Education

PPA Planning, Preparation and Assessment; guaranteed non-contact time for teachers

Progress 8 A headline measure of school performance at GCSE introduced from 2016. It aims to capture the progress a pupil makes from the end of KS2 to the end of KS4.  Further information is available on the Department for Education website

PRP Performance Related Pay  Schools following the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) must ensure teachers’ pay is linked to their performance.  The board will delegate responsibility for performance related pay to a Performance and Pay Committee, under clear terms of reference.  Example terms of reference are available on the subscribr content pages of this website

PRU Pupil Referral Unit  Alternative education provision for pupils unable to attend a mainstream school or special school

PSP Pastoral Support Programme; for pupils at serious risk of permanent exclusion

PTA Parent Teacher Association – or PSA (Parent Staff Association) or PTFA (Parent, Teacher and Friends Association)

PTA UK National membership organisation for parent teacher associations – formerly NCPTA

PTR Pupil/Teacher Ratio  This is calculated by dividing the number of pupils in a school by the number of full-time equivalent teachers

Public Sector Equality Duty A duty to consider if and how decisions may affect people who are protected under the Equality Act 2010

Pupil Premium Funding allocated to schools to support pupils eligible for FSM, in care, or who have parents in the armed forces.  Boards must report on their pupil premium strategy and how the funding has been spent to improve outcomes for pupils.  This information must be published on the school website.  Templates and further information is available on the 'school website information' page of this website


QTS Qualified Teacher Status

Quorate A meeting is quorate if a sufficient number of members are present. Decisions can only be ratified if a meeting is quorate

Quorum The minimum number of members present at a meeting before decisions can be made


Regional Schools Commissioners (RSCs) Civil servants that act on behalf of the Secretary of State. Their responsibilities include intervening in underperforming schools, making decisions on conversion to academy status, and encouraging and deciding on applications for academy sponsors. There are eight RSCs serving different regions, reporting to the National Schools Commissioner.

Resolution A formal decision which has been proposed, seconded and agreed at a meeting

Revenue funding Revenue funding can be spent to provide services and buy items that will be used within a year. Examples include salaries, heating, lighting, services and small items of equipment

ROA Record of Achievement


SACRE Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education; local statutory board which advises on religious education and collective worship

SATs Standard Assessment Tests Tests taken by pupils at the end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, used for national curriculum assessment

Scheme of delegation A document defining the lines of responsibility and accountability.  The Governance Handbook defines what a good scheme of delegation should contain

School census A statutory return which takes place during the autumn, spring, and summer terms. Maintained schools and academies should take part in the census

School Development Plan/School Improvement Plan (SDP/SIP) The operational document describing how the school will work towards the strategic priorities set by the governing board

Secondment The release of staff on a temporary basis for work elsewhere

SEN Special Educational Needs

SEND Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

SENCO / SENDCO Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator – the teacher responsible for co-ordinating SEND provision in the school

Senior Executive Leader (SEL) – academy trusts must appoint a senior executive leader (who may be known as the principal in a single academy trust, or CEO in a MAT, or equivalent) as the accounting officer (AO) for the trust

Service level agreement (SLA) A contract between a service provider (the local authority or another private sector provider) and a school, defining the level of service expected from the service provider

Service premium Pupil premium funding allocated to schools to support pupils whose parents are serving in HM armed forces, or have at any time since 2011, or who are in recipient of a child’s pension from the Ministry of Defence

SFVS Schools Financial Value Standard  A means for the governing board in a maintained school to assess its financial processes, capabilities and skills.  The Devon audit team will evaluate a school and its governance against these standards.  The SFVS will be replaced for the financial year 2020/21

Short inspection An Ofsted inspection carried out at ‘good’ schools (or special schools, nurseries, and PRUs judged ‘outstanding’)

SIMS Schools Information and Management System.  A computer package to assist schools in managing information on pupils, staff and resources, provided by Capita

Special school pupils Pupils with a statement of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or an education health and care plan (EHCP), whose needs cannot be fully met from within mainstream provision

Sponsor An organisation or person who has received approval from the DfE to support an underperforming academy or group of academies. Examples of sponsors include academies, businesses and charities

Staff governor/trustee Elected by those who are paid to work at the school, from across the teaching and non-teaching staff.  Further information and an election pack is available on the recruitment page of this website.  In some academy schools staff trustees are appointed, rather than elected, as defined in the articles

STPCD School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document  Published annually, this document forms a part of the contract of all teachers and headteachers in maintained schools in England and Wales. Many academies will also follow the STPCD

Strategic plan The school’s strategic document which sets out a small number of key priorities for the school over the next 3-5 years. The governing board should take the lead on developing the strategic plan

STRB School Teachers’ Review Body  Makes recommendations to the Secretary of State on teachers’ pay

Streaming Placing pupils in classes according to their ability across a range of subjects


TA Teaching Assistant

Teaching schools Schools that work with other schools to provide CPD for school staff

Teaching school alliances Led by teaching schools and include schools that are benefiting from support as well as strategic partners

Terms of reference The scope and limitations of a committee’s (or individual’s) activity and delegated responsibilities

TLR Teaching and Learning Responsibility  Payments agreed by the board, through the Performance and Pay Committee to be made to teachers for an additional responsibility

Trust Deed  The deed by which a voluntary aided, voluntary controlled or trust school has been established


UNISON Union of Public Employees; many school support staff will be members of this union


Virtual school Looked after children are on the virtual school roll, and each local authority will employ an experienced teacher to oversee the educational progress of all children under the care of that particular LA. The virtual school headteacher will have the specialist knowledge to provide extra support to designated teachers in the ‘real’ schools where the pupils are educated. They will also work with professionals in the Children's Services department of the council and with all schools in the area to promote the education of children in care.  Boards have a responsibility to challenge outcomes for children in care within their setting

VA Voluntary Aided  A school set up and owned by a voluntary board, usually a church board, largely financed by the LA. The governing board employs the staff and controls pupil admissions and religious education. The school’s buildings and land (apart from playing fields) will normally be owned by a charitable foundation. VA schools set their own admissions criteria in line with the admissions code.

Value Added (VA) The progress schools help pupils make relative to their individual starting points. Rather than just looking at test or exam outcomes VA also takes into account the prior attainment of individual pupils, thus enabling a judgment to be made about the effect of the school on pupils’ current attainment

VC Voluntary Controlled  Usually a denominational school wholly maintained by the LA, but with certain residual rights regarding religious worship

Vertical grouping Classes formed (in primary schools) with children of different age groups

Virement The agreed transfer of money from the budget heading to which it has been allocated to another budget heading

Vision The school’s vision should, in a few sentences, describe what the school will look like in three to five years’ time.  The vision will be developed by the board, in consultation with, and with collaboration from, the senior leadership team, staff, parents, pupils and the wider community

Vocational A subject that would not be considered academic in the traditional sense

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