Education TerminologyEducation Terminology

To help overcome any confusion regarding educational terminology used throughout our education website, we have listed below a terminology of words and terms that you may need help with. (Source: Government Online Directory)


Australian Apprenticeships Access Program - a program providing training assistance to people who are disadvantaged in the labour market and need preliminary training to sucessfully participate in an Australian Apprenticeship.

Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Aboriginal Study Assistance Scheme, a government scheme providing a means-tested living allowance and other supplementary benefits to eligible indigenous students in school or further education.

Term used to describe some Queensland schools that focus on a particular area of learning, such as the Arts.

Australasian Curriculum Assessment and Certification Authorities the national body for the chief executives of the statutory bodies in the Australian States and Territories and in New Zealand responsible for certificates of senior secondary education. Its purpose is to promote curriculum, assessment and certification in schooling functions within the framework of the Commonwealth of Australia and its States and Territories.

Adult and Community Education - part time, non-accredited short courses, primarily for adults, provided in community based and informal settings; including a wide range of workplace training, leisure entertainment, self development, art, craft, outdoors, business and computing courses.

Acceleration programs
Some schools in some States allow academically advanced students to accelerate their studies and complete their schooling in a shorter period of time.

Australian Council for Educational Research an educational research centre, committed to creating and distributing educational research, products and services.

Australian Council of Independent Vocational Colleges a non-profit organisation catering for the specific needs of private Education and Training Colleges and organisations associated with international and domestic Education and Training.

Australian Council for Private Education and Training a national industry association for independent providers of post-compulsory education and training, for Australian and International students.

ACSSO - Australian Council of State School Organisations.

Australian Education International - part of the Australian Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST); AEI integrates the development of international government relations in the field of education with support for the commercial activities of Australia's education community.

National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition the Australian.

Australian Education Union - the peak union and lobby group representing teachers and allied educators in public sector schools, TAFE colleges and early childhood centres.

Australian Government Quality Teacher Programme is the Australian Government's initiative for supporting quality teaching and school leadership by funding professional learning activities for teachers under agreements with state and territory government and non-government education authorities.

Adult Learning Australia Inc - the national peak body representing organisations and individuals in the adult learning field.

Alternative Schools
Term that is commonly used to describe schools with a non-mainstream educational philosophy.

Adult Migrant English Program - a program of basic English language tuition to migrants and refugees from non-English speaking backgrounds. AMEP is funded by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.

Aboriginal Tutorial Assistance Scheme provides supplementary tutorial assistance to Indigenous students in primary/secondary school, TAFE, university and formal training programmes. The objective of ATAS is to assist Indigenous students to achieve educational outcomes equal to those of other Australians.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

Australian Apprenticeships Centre
(formerly New Apprenticeship Centre) an organisation providing information and assistance to job seekers, students, career advisers and employers on apprenticeships and traineeship arrangements.

Australian Apprenticeships
The scheme formerly known as 'New Apprenticeships'. Australian Apprenticeships (called apprenticeships and traineeships in some states) combine the practical paid work with structured training to give young people nationally recognised industry qualifications. Australian Apprenticeships are 'competency based', which means they can be completed as soon as students achieve the requisite skill level. Formal agreements known as 'Training Agreements' or 'Contracts of Training', set out the training and supervision an employer must provide for the employee, as well as the employee's obligations as an Australian Apprentice.

Australian Government Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students
An online database of courses and educational institutions registered to offer courses for overseas students in Australia.

Australian Flexible Learning Framework (2005-2006 Framework) a national strategy that provides the vocational education and training (VET) system with e-learning skills development opportunities, resources and support. It particularly focusses on the e-learning needs of students and communities, business and industry, Indigenous learners and people with disabilities.

Australian National Training Authority previously the Australian Government statutory authority with reponsibility for the development of national policy, goals and objectives for the vocational education and training sector. ANTA's responsibilities were transferred to the Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) on 1 July 2005 . Vocational and technical education comes under the authority of the Ministerial Council for Vocational and Technical Education (MCVTE) which is comprised of the Australian Government and State and Territory Ministers with responsibility for Vocational and Technical Education.

Australian Qualifications Framework a national system of qualifications encompassing all post-compulsory education.

Australian Quality Training Framework comprises nationally agreed standards to ensure the quality of Vocational Education and Training (VET) services across Australia . It provides clear, auditable national standards for registered training organisations (RTOs) as well as standards for state and territory registering/course accrediting bodies.

Australian Research Council an independent body providing advice to the Australian Government on investment in national research. ARC supports the highest quality research and research training through national competition in all fields of science, social sciences and the humanities; and brokers partnerships between researchers and industry, government, community organisations and the international community.

Austudy payment provides income support to students aged 25 years or more and studying full-time.

Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee the council of Australia’s university presidents representing Australian higher education nationally and internationally.


Students that live-in at school. The students that do not live-in are called Day Students.

Boarding schools
Schools that have live-in facilities.

Board of Studies NSW () the body responsible for setting the core curriculum in New South Wales . BOS develops syllabuses for Kindergarten to Year 12, and manages the New South Wales School Certificate external Tests (Year 10) and the Higher School Certificate Examinations (Year 12).


Catholic Schools
Schools that are based on Catholic faith. Most Catholic schools are described as Catholic Systemic and a few are defined as Catholic Independent.

Central Schools
In NSW refers to some Government Kindergarten – Year 12 schools in rural and isolated communities.

Government school students in Year 11 and 12 in ACT attend Colleges.

Combined Schools
Schools where Primary and Secondary school is on the same campus (in same location).

Community Schools
In NSW refers to some Government Kindergarten – Year 12 schools located in metropolitan areas.

Continuing Education
Short courses, programs, or organised learning experiences to enhance personal or professional goals often within the Continuing Education Department of a university.

Cooperative Research Centres Program a program established to improve the effectiveness of Australia ’s research and development effort. It links researchers with industry to focus research and development efforts on progress towards utilisation and commercialisation. It also has a strong education component with a focus on producing graduates with skills relevant to industry needs.

see Australian Government Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students.

Australian Government Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

Curriculum Corporation
An independent education support organisation owned by all Australian education ministers, its purpose is to facilitate collaborative curriculum development among school systems. It is the major provider of curriculum materials and services in Australia.


Day Students
In schools that have Boarding students, the students that don’t Board are commonly called Day Students.

DECS (in ACT) - Department of Education and Community Services.

DECS (in SA) - Department of Education and Children’s Services.

Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology.

Department of Education, Science and Training - the Australian Government Department which has responsibility for Education, Science policy, promotion of collaborative research in science and technology, training, including New Apprenticeships and training services and Co-ordination of research policy, research grants and fellowships, radioactive waste management.

DET (in NSW) - Department of Education and Training.

DET (in Queensland) - Department of Employment and Training.

DIMA - Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.

Dusseldorp Skills Forum
An independent, non-profit association with a charter to stimulate innovative educational developments, to focus upon the importance of the workforce in the continuing development of Australia, and to reach out to the wider community to promote the formation of skills and personal effectiveness, particularly in young people.


ECEF See Enterprise and Careers Education Foundation.

(Education Network Australia) - a service that aims to support and promote the benefits of the Internet for learning, education and training in Australia. It is organised around Australian curriculum, its tools are free to Australian educators, and it is funded by the bodies responsible for education provision in Australia - all Australian governments.

(1) the imparting or acquisition of knowledge, skills, understanding, attitudes. (2) the knowledge, skills, understanding, attitudes acquired. (3) the field of study concerned with teaching and learning and related topics. limited
A national ICT agency for education and training, owned by the National, State and Territory education and training Ministers. The Agency has been established to enact agreements reached by these Ministers in the Ministerial Council for Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA).

Education Network Australia.

English as a Second Language (ESL)
Subject for children who need assistance to learn English.

English as a Second Language.

Essential Learning Standards
Goals and areas of learning required in school curriculums.


Education Services for Overseas Students. The provision of education and training services to overseas students in Australia is regulated by the Department of Education, Science and  Training through the Education Services for Overseas Students Act and associated legislation. The purpose of the legislation is to protect the interests of people coming to Australia on student visas, by providing tuition and financial assurance and by ensuring a nationally consistent approach to provider registration. The legislation also seeks to ensure the integrity of the industry through visa-related reporting requirements.

EEO - Equal Employment Opportunity.

English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students. Enterprise and Careers Education Foundation (ECEF) an organisation established by the Australian Government to assist young people to achieve a successful transition from school to further education, training and employment. It provides a focal point for enterprise and career education by encouraging and supporting effective partnerships at the national and local level between schools, businesses and the wider community.

ESB - English-Speaking Background; contrasts with NESB.

ESL - English as a Second Language.

ESOL - English for Speakers of Other Languages.


Is a loan programme that assists eligible fee–paying studentsto pay their tuition fees at eligible higher education providers. Australian citizens and holders of a permanent humanitarian visa are eligible for FEE–HELP assistance. FEE–HELP will assist postgraduate fee–paying students as PELS previously did. It will also assist undergraduate fee–paying students.

Flexible Learning Advisory Group.

Flexible Delivery
A range of approaches giving learners a choice on what, when, where and how they learn. It may include e-learning, online learning, distance learning.

Flexible Learning Advisory Group is a strategically focused group of senior VET personnel who provide advice on national issues related to the directions and priorities for flexible learning in vocational education and training to a number of national bodies.

Field Position (FP)
A ranking score used in Queensland , comparing a student’s results in a particular field of study with all students’ results in that field of study. Used in Queensland Tertiary Entrance Statement, which determines entrance to higher education such as university.

Field Position.


Government schools
Schools which are operated by State or Territory Governments’ education departments.


Health and Physical Education (HPE)
School subject involving health, exercise and sport.

Higher Education Contribution Scheme.

High School
A term or a name for Secondary school. Usually used in the Government sector.

Higher Education
Education at degree level and above. In the Australian Qualifications Framework, higher education courses are those leading to the award of an associate degree, bachelor's degree, graduate certificate, graduate diploma, master's degree or doctoral degree. Some courses leading to the award of a diploma or advanced diploma may also be accredited as higher education. Most higher education in Australia is offered by universities. A number of non-university providers also offer accredited higher education courses.

Higher Education Contribution Scheme
Now called HECS–HELP assistance, a funding arrangement whereby students pay part of the cost of their higher education, and the Australian Government pays the rest.

Higher School Certificate (HSC)
Certificate awarded upon successful completion of Year 12 in Victoria and New South Wales.

Health and Physical Education.

Higher School Certificate.

Human Society and its Environment.

Human Society and its Environment (HSIE)
School subject usually combining study of geography, history, environment and society.


International Baccalaureate.

Indigenous Education Direct Assistance.

International English Language Testing System.

Indigenous Education Strategic Initiatives Program.

Indigenous Education
Education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Indigenous Education Direct Assistance a government program operating prior to 2005 for indigenous Australians comprising the Aboriginal Student Support and Parent Awareness (ASSPA) Programme, Aboriginal Tutorial Assistance Scheme (ATAS),Vocational and Educational Guidance for Aboriginals Scheme (VEGAS).

Independent schools
Schools that are not Government-run and are not Catholic schools. (A very small number of Catholic schools do call themselves Catholic Independent schools).

Infant Schools
Schools in NSW that start at Kindergarten and go up to Grade 2.

Information Literacy
The ability to locate, obtain, use and evaluate information resources.

International Baccalaureate (IB)
The International Baccalaureate Diploma is recognised by universities nationally and internationally. The IB is offered by some schools across Australia.


K minus one year

Key Learning Areas (KLA)
Learning Areas.

In NSW refers to the year before Grade 1. In Victoria refers to earlier learning before Preparatory or Pre-Prep years. In ACT refers to the year between Pre-school and Grade 1. In Tasmania refers to Year before Prep year In Western Australia it’s Year before Pre-Primary Year.

Key Learning Areas. See Learning Areas.


Living Away From Home Allowance.

Languages Other Than English (LOTE)
Term used in most Australian States for language subjects (non English).

Learning Areas
These are nationally agreed areas of learning for schools. They are English; Mathematics; Science; Society/Environment; Technology; Health/Physical Education; the Arts; and Languages.

National project funded by ANTA. Through work-based learning, funded LearnScope projects develop professional skills, knowledge and understandings needed to apply new learning technologies to achieve more flexible learning in VET.

Lifelong Learning
The ongoing self-motivated formal and informal learning undertaken throughout life.

Language, Literacy and Numeracy.

Languages Other Than English.


Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs.

Ministerial Council for Vocational and Technical Education.

Ministerial Council for Vocational and Technical Education comprised of the Australian Government and State and Territory Ministers with responsibility for Vocational and Technical Education.

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs - Membership of the Council comprises State, Territory, Australian Government and New Zealand Ministers with responsibility for the portfolios of education, employment, training and youth affairs, with Papua New Guinea and Norfolk Island having observer status. The areas of responsibility covered by the Council are pre-primary education, primary and secondary education, vocational education and training, higher education, employment and linkages between employment/labour market programs and education and training, adult and community education, youth policy programs and cross-sectoral matters.


National Centre for Vocational Education Research a not-for-profit company owned by the federal, state and territory ministers responsible for training; it is responsible for collecting, managing, analysing, evaluating and communicating research and statistics about Vocational and Technical Education (VTE).

National Institute for Quality Teaching and School Leadership established to support and advance the effectiveness and standing of the teaching profession in Australia , driving innovation and excellence in schools and providing intellectual leadership for the profession.

National Literacy and Numeracy Benchmarks
A set of indicators or descriptors which represent nationally agreed minimum acceptable standards for literacy and numeracy at a particular year level. In this context ‘minimum acceptable standard’ means a critical level of literacy and numeracy without which a student will have difficulty making sufficient progress at school.

National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition
the Australian national expert and coordinating body on overseas skills assessments and recognition.  AEI NOOSR provides informal advice and assistance directly to Australian universities on the comparability of overseas post-secondary qualifications and also publishes guidelines for the assessment of overseas qualifications in its ‘Country Education Profile’.

National Tertiary Education Union a specialist national union solely representing staff in tertiary education. 

National Training Information Service - The National Training Information Service was developed by Australian National Training Authority (ANTA) to provide access to current and emerging training market information and products in vocational education and training. NTIS comprises a database of: VET accredited courses; competency standards; training Packages and training providers and text information on a range of complementary issues.

National Centre for Vocational Education Research.

Non-English-Speaking Background.

New Apprenticeships
Australian Apprenticeships.



Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Occupational Health and Safety.

Online learning Education
Training that relies upon the Internet or Intranet as the primary delivery mode.

OPCET (in Tasmania)
Office of Post-Compulsory Education and Training.

OPCETE (in Victoria)
Office of Post Compulsory Education Training and Employment.

Open Universities Australia
National specialist distance education agency owned and partnered by seven Australian Universities. Courses are developed by 18 academic providers. Units of study and qualifications issued by these universities and other providers are identical to those awarded to on-campus students. Students learn at their own pace, when and where it suits them. Previously known as Open Learning Australia (OLA).

Overall Position score.

Opportunity Classes
Classes in NSW government schools for academically gifted and talented children in Years 5-6.

OTAE (in ACT) Office of Training and Adult Education.

OTTE (in Vic) Office of Training and Tertiary Education.

Overall Position score (OP)
A ranking score used in Queensland, comparing a student’s overall results with all other students’ results. Used in Queensland Tertiary Entrance Statement, which determines entrance to higher education such as university.


Personal Development, Health and Physical Education.

Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE)
School subject involving health, exercise and sport.

PETE (in Vic)
Office of Post Compulsory Education Training and Employment.

Post-compulsory Education
Education beyond the compulsory age prescribed by state or territory statute.

Postgraduate Education Loan Scheme now known as FEE–HELP.

The Year before Kindergarten year in NSW schools.

Year before Prep year in Victoria and Queensland.

In Western Australia it’s the Year before Year 1.

In ACT Pre-school is the Year before Kindergarten (which is a Year before Grade 1 there). In NT it’s a year before Transition Year (which is a Year before Grade 1 there).

Commonly used abbreviation for Preparatory Year. In Victorian, Queensland and Tasmanian schools it’s the year before Year 1.

Primary schools
Schools that precede Secondary school, and cater to children from about the ages of 4 or 5 to about the ages of 12 and include one early learning year followed by Year 1 to Year 6 or 7 – depending on the State or Territory.

Private schools
Non Government schools.

Professional Continuing Education
The process of learning and updating of professional expertise.

Public Service Education and Training Australia - nationally recognised body for the public administration areas of Australian and State/Territory governments. PSETA provides information and advice to government and the industry on matters relating to the vocational education, training and development needs of the public sector and advises about training policy, research requirements and priorities for funding.
Public Schools
Government schools


Queensland Tertiary Admission Centre.

Queensland Tertiary Admission Centre (QTAC)
Provides and operates a centralised tertiary application system for admission to all undergraduate courses offered by the publicly funded universities in Queensland, Bond University, the Australian Maritime College in Tasmania, and to some courses at universities in Northern New South Wales and selected courses at Queensland institutes of TAFE, the Queensland Agricultural Colleges and some private providers of post secondary courses.


In South Australian schools Reception is the Year before Year 1.

Reframing the future
the national staff development and change management program underpinning the implementation of the national training system.

Recognition of Prior Learning (or) formal acknowledgement of competencies (skills, knowledge and attitudes) gained as a result of previous formal training, work experience and/or life experience.

Registered Training Organisation - an organisation registered by a state or territory recognition authority to issue qualifications under the Australian Quality Training Framework in the vocational and technical education sector.


South Australian Certificate of Education.

South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre.

School-based New Apprenticeship Students
Can begin work on nationally recognised industry qualifications while still attending school, generally in Year 10, so that they can complete their school studies while starting their apprenticeship.

Select Entry Acceleration Learning.

Secondary schools
Schools following on from Primary schools, that cater to students from about the age of 7 to 12. (or 8 to 12 in some states). Depending on the State or Territory they start at Year 7 or 8 and most commonly finish at year 12. (In Tasmania some Government Secondary schools finish at Year 10 and Year 11 and 12 students then attend Senior Colleges. In ACT all Government Secondary schools go to Year 10 and students then attend College).

Select Entry Acceleration Learning (SEAL)
Some Government schools in Victoria offer a Select Entry Acceleration Learning (SEAL) program, where students complete Secondary studies in a shorter period of time.

Senior Colleges
Government Schools for Years 11 and 12 students in Tasmania .

Senior Secondary
Refers to latter year of Secondary studies, from Year 10 or 11 to Year 12.

Senior Secondary Certificate of Education
A national title for senior secondary school qualifications issued by the state and territory governments. Each state or territory has its own senior secondary certificate of education.

Student Education Profile.

Students with High Potential.

Secondary Numeracy Assessment Program.

South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE)
SACE is awarded to students who successfully complete Year 11 and 12 in South Australian schools.

Study of Society and the Environment.

South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre
Receives and processes applications for the universities and TAFE institutes in South Australia.

Special Needs Schools
Special Schools.

Special Needs Students
Students with a disability or a special need: This could be physical, intellectual, behavioural or social.

Special Schools
Schools that are for students with a disability or a special need: This could be physical, intellectual, behavioural or social.

State/territory Recognition Authority; see State Recognition Authority.

Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.

State schools
Government Public schools

Student Education Profile (SEP)
In Queensland at the end of Year 12 all students receive a SEP, which provides information about their achievements. It may contain a Senior Certificate, or it may contain both a Senior Certificate and a Tertiary Entrance Statement (TES).

Students with High Potential (SHIP)
In South Australia there are some schools that offer students with high potential special courses.

Study of Society and the Environment (SOSE)
School subject combining study of geography, history, environment and society.

An outline of subjects to be taught in a course of study.


A publicly funded post-secondary educational institution (Tertiary and Further Education) which provides a range of technical and vocational education and training courses and other programs. Each state and territory has its own TAFE system.

Tasmanian Accreditation and Recognition Committee responsible for matters related to certification of Tasmanian trainees and students.

Tasmanian Certificate of Education. See also Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.

NSW school courses in Industrial Arts to develop knowledge of some industry related technologies.

Tertiary Entrance Examination.
Centralised admissions office for undergraduate university and, in some states, TAFE courses. The Northern Territory and Tasmania do not have a central admissions office.

Tertiary Education
Formal education beyond secondary education. It includes higher education and Vocational Education and Training.

Tertiary Entrance Rank.

Tertiary Entrance Examination
In Western Australia if students wish to gain entry into university they need to complete TEE exams, which are based on the TEE subjects they have selected. The results of the exam are used to calculate a Tertiary Entrance Rank (TER), which determines whether a student is eligible for entry into particular university courses.

Tertiary Entrance Rank
A ranking in Western Australia that shows how a student’s results compares to other students, and which determines eligibility for entry into particular university courses.

Tertiary Entrance Statement (TES)
In Queensland students receive a TES if they have done a Queensland Core Skills Test and have met study requirements, which make them eligible to get an Overall Position (OP) score and a Field Position (FP) score.

Tertiary Entrance Statement.

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Test of English as a Foreign Language.

Training Package Sets
Nationally endorsed standards and qualifications for recognising and assessing the skills and knowledge needed to perform effectively in the workplace.

Transition Year
In Northern Territory this is the Year at school between Pre-school Year and Grade 1.


United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.


Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning.

Victorian Certificate of Education. See also Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.

VET - Vocational Education and Training
These are vocational courses, such as hospitality or trades, which are available to students in Years 11 and 12 and taught at some schools or at TAFE.

Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL)
VCAL is an accredited Secondary certificate for Year 11 and 12 students in Victoria. A hands-on course offering practical work-related experience and learning for students.

Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre a centralised admissions centre for most undergraduate university and TAFE courses in Victoria.

Vocational and Technical Education post-compulsory education and training, excluding degree and higher level programs delivered by higher education institutions, designed to develop occupational skills. Previously referred to as Vocational Education and Training (VET).

Victorian Qualifications Authority. State accreditation and registration body of Victoria.


Western Australian Certificate of Education.

Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE)
Students are can achieve this Certificate by meeting the requirements set down by the Curriculum Council, which are based on Wholly School-assessed Subjects.