Education jargon

The Department of Education and schools regularly use these acronyms.

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AECG – Aboriginal Education Consultative Group

ACLO – Aboriginal community liaison officer

AEO – Aboriginal education officer

ADD – attention deficit disorder

ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

AP – assistant principal

ATAR – Australian Tertiary Assessment Rank. The ATAR is a rank, or position, calculated by the Universities Admissions Centre, based on a student’s HSC achievement. Universities generally offer positions to students based on their ATAR.


BOSTES – Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards. In 2017 it became the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA). Sometimes teachers still refer to it as ‘the Board’.


CALD – culturally and linguistically diverse

CAPA – creative and performing arts. For more information see creative arts.

CHS – Combined High Schools Sports Association provides opportunities for high school students to participate in competitive sport at state level and above.

CLO – community liaison officers encourage and support parents and the wider community to be actively involved in school activities and student progress.

COGS – connected outcome groups. Kindergarten to Year 6 teachers may develop units of work linking all key learning areas together around a topic.

COLA – covered outdoor learning area. Usually a covered structure in the playground which does double duty as a learning and play area.

Curriculum – the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) is responsible for the subjects taught in NSW schools, from Kindergarten to Year 12. Each school adapts the curriculum to suit their local context and the needs of their students.

Creative arts – a key learning area covering dance, drama, music and visual arts.

Cross curricular – programs or units of work using knowledge and skills from more than one syllabus, taught in an integrated way.


DoE – NSW Department of Education

DEC – distance education centres or schools. Distance education (DE) is an equity program for NSW students who are geographically isolated or whose individual circumstances prevent them from attending school. There are 9 primary and 5 secondary distance education centres or schools in NSW.

Disability provisions – reasonable adjustments to help students with additional learning and support needs (including disability) participate in education on the same basis as students without disability. This is done in consultation with parents. Formal applications must be made for disability provisions in NAPLAN tests and HSC exams and may include adjustments such as test papers printed on a specific colour, use of assistive technologies, separate supervision, time for breaks and so on.

DP – deputy principal


EAL/D – English as an additional language or dialect

English – a mandatory subject from Kindergarten to Year 12. Students learn about the English language, developing their reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing and representing skills. They study and respond to a wide variety of texts.

ERN – Enrolment registration number

ESL – programs for students with English as a second language.

Extracurricular – additional programs that do not relate directly to the content of a syllabus, for example, public speaking competitions, student newspapers, environmental clubs and so on.


FACS – Department of Family and Community Services


GATS – gifted and talented students. Gifted students are those whose potential is clearly above average in one or more of the following areas: intellectual, creative, social or physical. Talented students are markedly above average in one or more fields of human performance.


High schools - students attend high school from Years 7 to 12. High schools may also be referred to as secondary schools and can be co-educational or single-sex.

HSC - the Higher School Certificate is an internationally recognised qualification for students who have successfully completed secondary education in NSW.

HSIE - human society and its environment. Students study history, geography and learn about people, societies and culture in the HSIE key learning area.

HSLO - home school liaison officers work with school communities to encourage all students to attend school regularly.

HT - a head teacher is an executive position in a high school. There are curriculum head teachers, such as subject or KLA head teachers, and educational support head teachers who manage specific programs such as distance education, welfare and so on.


ICT – information and communication technologies

IEP – individual education plan

Infants schools – smaller primary schools for students from Kindergarten to Year 2.

IWB – interactive whiteboards. An electronic whiteboard which has internet capability.



Kindergarten – the first formal year of schooling in NSW. Students can start Kindergarten at the beginning of the school year if they turn 5 on or before 31 July that year. By law, all children must be enrolled by their 6th birthday.

KLAs – key learning areas are outlined in the NSW Education Act 1990. KLAs incorporate syllabuses which teachers use to program their teaching and learning.

Primary KLAs are:

  • English
  • mathematics
  • science and technology
  • human society and its environment (HSIE)
  • creative arts
  • personal development, health and physical education (PDHPE)

High school KLAs are:

  • English
  • mathematics
  • science
  • HSIE
  • creative arts
  • languages
  • technological and applied studies (TAS).

Knockouts – competitive school team-based sports competitions


Languages - a key learning area where students learn about the role of language and culture in the world. A compulsory subject in high school, primary schools may also offer a study of language.

LaST - learning and support teacher. A learning and support teacher helps students with disability or additional learning and support needs.

LBOTE - language background other than English. This includes students if they or one of their parents speaks a language other than English as their first language.

Learning and support team - school staff who meet regularly and work together to further support students with additional learning needs.

Literacy - the ability to read, write and understand information across all subject areas.


Marking guidelines - criteria teachers and examiners use to assess a student?s knowledge and skills in relation to the outcomes of a syllabus.

Mathematics - is often shortened to 'maths'. It is learning how to working mathematically, studying number and algebra, measurement and geometry, statistics and probability.

Matriculation - eligibility to attend a university.

Middle years - Years 5 to 8.

Module - part of a course, such as a topic studied.

Mufti day - casual dress day. Schools sometimes allow students to wear something other than their uniform on a special day. It may also be related to a fundraising opportunity.

Multicultural education - promotes an understanding of diverse cultures and language groups. It also supports newly arrived students, refugees and students whose language background is not English.


NAPLAN – National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy. Tests are held in literacy and numeracy for all students in Australia in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9.

NESA – NSW Education Standards Authority. NESA is responsible for setting the curriculum for all students in NSW – Kindergarten to Year 12. They also monitor teacher accreditation, school registration and home schooling.

Numeracy – working with numbers across all subject areas. This involves mathematical knowledge and understanding, problem-solving and literacy skills.


OC – opportunity class. Year 5 and 6 classes that operate in some primary schools for gifted and talented students. The application process includes school assessment scores and the results of the Opportunity Class Placement Test.

OOSH – out of school hours. Contact your principal for information about the availability of before and after-school care.

Outcomes – The knowledge, understanding, skills, values and attitudes students are expected to develop through study in a subject.


P&C – local P&C associations are made up of parents, carers and community members. A school’s P&C meets regularly to participate in decision-making, developing policies and management plans, as well as fundraising.

PDHPE – personal development, health and physical education.

Pedagogy – the work or art of a teacher; teaching.

Preliminary – Year 11

Principal – the most senior executive in a school.

PSSA – Primary Schools Sports Association. The PSSA provides opportunities for primary-age students to participate in competitive sport at state level and above.



RAM – Resource allocation model. The funding a school receives from the department – a needs-based model is used to determine the amount.

Reports – schools provide information about student learning in each subject twice a year. They include a snapshot of the student’s achievement with an A to E grade and include comments about areas of strength and suggestions for further development.

RFF – relief from face-to-face. Teachers use this time for planning, marking, reporting, attending meetings, organising educational resources and other tasks related to their work. Relief from face-to-face is timetabled and the class is taught by another teacher.

RoSA – Record of School Achievement. A record of a child’s school achievement if they leave school prior to obtaining their HSC.


Science – students learn about the natural and made worlds and how to apply scientific skills. In primary school it is combined with a study of technology. In high school, students have an opportunity to specialise in science subjects such as biology, chemistry, earth and environmental science and physics in Years 11 and 12.

Science and technology – in primary school, students study about the world around them and how it works as an integrated subject.

SEIP – Student Engagement and Interagency Partnerships

Selective high schools – schools for academically high-achieving students. There are both fully selective and partially selective high schools – where selective English, mathematics and science classes operate. The application process includes primary school assessment scores in English and maths together with the results of the Selective High School Placement Test.

SLSO – Student learning support officer

Senior college – school for students in Years 11 and 12 and sometimes Year 10.

Special provisions – adjustments to assist students with additional learning and support needs, including a disability, participate in education on the same basis as students without disability. See disability provisions for more information.

SRC – Student representative council

Stages of learning – there are 6 stages of learning from Kindergarten to Year 12:

  • Stage 1 = Kindergarten to Year 2 (Kindergarten is referred to as Early Stage 1)
  • Stage 2 = Years 3 and 4
  • Stage 3 = Years 5 and 6
  • Stage 4 = Years 7 and 8
  • Stage 5 = Years 9 and 10
  • Stage 6 = Years 11 and 12.

Syllabus – describes what students are expected to learn in a course. It includes aims, objectives, outcomes, content, assessment requirements and a glossary. Teachers use a syllabus to plan their teaching of a subject.


TAFE – technical and further education. TAFE provides a wide range of vocational education and training courses both on campus and online.

TAS – technological and applied studies is the key learning area in secondary schools covering technology related subjects.


UAC – Universities Admissions Centre (NSW and Australian Capital Territory) processes applications for admission to university, advises students of their ATAR and makes offers of placement in university undergraduate courses.


VET – vocational education and training. These occupational or work-related courses are available for students in Years 9 to 12. Many lead to nationally recognised Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) certificates or statements of attainment.


Work experience or workplace learning – students may spend 1 to 2 weeks in a workplace of their choice. Students observe and undertake supervised tasks to develop work and industry skills. Workplace learning helps career choice and enhances classroom learning. It is voluntary – students are not paid.

Work placement – for students enrolled in VET courses. Students participate in unpaid work to meet the requirements of a VET course. They practise and improve the specific industry skills to achieve competencies assessed by teachers.




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