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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.


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
The school admissions code is statutory guidance that schools must follow when carrying out duties relating to school admissions.

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.

Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) is the leading professional association and trade union for all school, college and trust leaders.

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.

Analyse School Performance (ASP). 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.

Association of Teachers and Lecturers – former name of 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 for schools about secondary school accountability measures, including Progress 8 and Attainment 8 can be found on the Department for Education 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.

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.


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. Statutory guidance on local authorities’ and regional schools commissioners’ responsibilities relating to schools and PRUs causing concern is available on the government’s website.

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 governance handbook and competency framework developed by the Department for Education (DfE) outlining the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to provide professional clerking to the governing boards of maintained schools, academies and multi-academy trusts.

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 governance handbook and competency framework 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.

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

Safeguarding and Child Protection Software for Schools.


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

Disability Discrimination Act.

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.

Devon Education Services
In August 2022 Babcock LDP became Devon Education Services. Devon Education Services includes all the traded business which were operating under Babcock LDP.

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

Devon Schools Leadership Service
The Devon Schools Leadership Services (DSLS) is the replacement for both DAPH (Devon Association of Primary Heads) and DASH (Devon Association of Secondary Heads).

Devon Children and Families Partnership (DCFP) was established on 1 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.

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.

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

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.


Excellence for All Programme (EAP) is 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.

Education Endowment Foundation.

English as an Additional Language.

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

Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties.

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.

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

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

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.

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.


Two or more LA maintained schools governed by one board.

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.

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 all eligible 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).


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.

General Certificate of Secondary Education.

GCSE grading
GCSEs in England now 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.


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.

Higher Level Teaching Assistant.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools.

Her Majesty’s Inspector.

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).



Individual Education Plan for pupils with special educational needs.
International GCSE.

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.

Institute of School Business Leadership. The Professional Body for School Business Leaders.


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

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

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


Local Authority. The LA has certain responsibilities regarding education, for example the educational achievement of looked-after children and for school places planning.

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

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.

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

Learning Development Partnership. Babcock LDP business was a leader in education and inclusion services supporting more than 1500 schools, academies, MATs and settings across the UK. The ten year Joint Venture contract with Devon County Council (DCC) has now ended with all services transferring to the local authority on 1 August 2022.

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.

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.

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.


The School Leaders’ Union.

The Teachers’ Union.

National College
National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) no longer exists and was replaced by Department for Education and Teaching Regulation Agency.

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).

National Foundation for Educational Research.

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.

Number on roll; the number of pupils registered to attend the school.

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

Newly Qualified Teacher.

National Union of Teachers – former trade union.


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

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.


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 available 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.

Private Finance Initiative.

Post-Graduate Certificate of Education.

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 on secondary school accountability measures, including Progress 8 and Attainment 8  is available on the Department for Education website.

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 Devon Education Services’ subscriber content pages.

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

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

Parent Teacher Association.

Parent, Teacher and Friends Association.

Parent Staff Association.

Parent Teacher Association.

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 free school meals, 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, using the statutory DfE templates.


Qualified Teacher Status.

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

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.

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.

Record of Achievement.


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

Standard Assessment 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.

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

Special Educational Needs.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

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.

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

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

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


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.


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.

VA (Value Added)
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.

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

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.

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