​glossary of terms (a-L)

This Glossary of Terms reflects common language in each locale.
The first three columns indicate whether the item/term is used in which locale, followed by the item/term name and its full description.
Please use drop-down arrows on the title bar header to filter the list by locale or item.
  • AU = Australia
  • NA = North America
  • UK = United Kingdom

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YesYesYesAccess Control List

This is a setting in some ZISs which defines which objects, and which actions relating to them, are authorised for a given agent​.


See Access Control List


See SIF Adapter


​See Aligned Data Definition


​See SIF Agent

NoNoYesAligned Data Definition

Documentation defining common definitions including names, addresses, general dates, birth date, death date, fax number, phone number, email address, gender, organisation names, language codes, country codes and ethnic codes.


(​Application Programmers Interface)  Access to a piece of softwares functionality or data that is designed for ease in producing code, rather than directly accessed by a user.


The end-tool with which the agent interacts to add, modify, delete or retrieve data.  This could be a database or other data managing program.​

YesYesYesAttribute, XML

An item associated with an XML element that describes, modifies, or provides extra information about the element content (i.e. an adjective describing the element).


The process of verifying whether someone or something is in fact who or what it declares itself to be.

YesYesYesAuthoritative Provider

The software application that is deemed the authoritative source of the data.


​The process of verifying whether an authenticated user or application should be allowed to issue a specific request of a service provider, or access restricted data.


The software that connects agents together for a specific data scope.  Can also be referred to as 'middleware' or an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB).  Previously known as Zone Integration Server (ZIS) in all SIF Solutions prior to SIF 3.x. 

YesYesYesBrokered Environment

See Environment: Brokered.​


See Component Awarding Body

YesNoNoCatholic Education Office

Victorian Catholic​ jurisdiction - for example Catholic Education Office Melbourne.


See Common Data Definition


​See Conceptual Data Model


​The Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) project is a national collaborative effort to develop voluntary, common data standards for a key set of education data elements to streamline the exchange, comparison, and understanding of data within and across P-20W institutions and sectors.


See Catholic Education Office


Certifiation is the process the zone integration server (ZIS) or application and agent as a pair are put through by the software applications developer.  Certification warrants and tests the claims that the software application vendors assert about their ZIS or agent to the SIF Specification.

YesYesYesCertification logo

​See SIF Certification logo.

YesYesYesCertification Register

See SIF Certification Register.

YesYesYesCertification System Deficiency

An agreed error in the certification system, which is inhibiting the certification process.

YesYesYesCertified Product

See SIF Certified Product.​


A defined ordering of events and messages to provide a sequential process to implement business rules.

SIF 3.x Equivalent:  Service Consumer
NoYesNoCode Set

​A chosen set of values.  CEDS call these Option Sets.

YesYesYesCode Set: SIF

​A SIF Code Set is a closed set of values for a field (element) that can be defined as a set of values.  In the SIF Data Model, Code Sets are specified in one of three ways: (1) an enumeration in the XML definition of the element in the data model, (2) an enumeration in a SIF Code Set file published separately from the Data Model, and (3) an enumeration (or range) published by an organization external to SIF.  Number (3) is called an external code set and numbers (1) and (2) are called SIF Code Sets.

NoNoYesCommon Data Definition

Common Data Definitions are an important enabler for the MIAP Learner Registration Service and will allow the MIAP Learning Data Interface to pool relevant information quickly and accurately.

NoYesNoCommon Data Definition

The agreed upon and vetted written description and meaning of the data element or data field. The use of common data definitions provide an additional level of interoperablility.

NoYesYesCommon elements

Data elements that are common across multiple data objects.

NoNoYesComponent Awarding Body

An awarding body offering constituent qualifications for the 14-19 Diploma, which may include principal learning, foundation, higher and extended project, functional skills and/or additional and specialist learning qualifications.

YesYesYesComposite Object

​A Composite object is an object designed for a particular use case or limited set of use cases.  The object is usually made up of the combined parts of Entity objects. These objects are part of the SIF Physical Model but are not part of the Entity model (sub-model). An example of a Composite object is the StudentPersonal object from the (NA) 2.6 specification.  This object contains student information from the Student object in the Entity model as well as information from other objects.

YesYesYesConceptual Data Model

A map of concepts and their relationships that represents the high-level logical structure of the sets of data, which is independent of any software or data storage structure.

YesYesYesConformance Requirements

A definition of what mandatory and optional behavior a product must implement in order to be considered conformant to the SIF Certification Program.

YesYesYesConformance Statement Questionnaire

A declaration by the Solution Provider describing how the product meets the conformance requirements for the SIF Certification Program, including which optional features are supported. It also identifies the precise environment and software configuration in which conformance was tested.


​A Context is optional Data Model-specific metadata that may accompany a Consumer Request as a way of further scoping and restricting the selected Provider. For example a supplied Context might indicate that the Student Schedule Provider Service being requested in Zone XYZ is the one dealing with next term’s data, rather than the current one.
A Zone can contain multiple Object Provider Services, each offering its data in a differently named context, or a given Service implementation may support multiple contexts for the same Provider interface.
There can be only one Service of a given Object Type with a given Context in any one Zone.


“Create, Read, Update and Delete”, corresponding to the REST POST, GET, PUT and DELETE operations.

Referenced in the SIF 3.0 Base Architecture documentation.


​See Conformance Statement Questionnaire


A plan of instruction that details what students are to know, how they are to learn it, what the teacher's role is, and the context in which learning and teaching will take place.


See Diploma Awarding Body

YesYesYesData Model

A description of the data structure and the way data are organized and used.

YesYesYesData Object

An “instantiation” or instance of a Data Object Type.  A Data Object is created in XML and can be validated against the XML schema of the Data Type which it represents. 

It is also a fundamental component of the SIF data model that SIF Certification is being sought for.

NoNoYesData Protection Act

(DPA) The Data Protection Act is a United Kingdom Act of Parliament. It defines a legal basis for the handling in the UK of information relating to living people. It is the main piece of legislation that governs protection of personal data in the UK. Although the Act does not mention privacy, in practice it provides a way in which individuals can enforce the control of information about themselves. Most of the Act does not apply to domestic use, for example keeping a personal address book. Organisations in the UK are legally obliged to comply with this Act, subject to some exemptions.

Compliance with the Act is enforced by an independent government authority, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). The ICO maintains guidance relating to the Act.
The Act defines eight principles of information-handling practice. 

See Department of Education and Early Childhood Development​

NoNoYesDepartment for Education

UK government department with responsibility for children's services, families, schools, 14-19 education, and the Respect Taskforce.

YesNoNoDepartment of Education and Early Childhood Development​

​(DEECD) Victorian state jurisdiction - for example Department of Education and Early Childhood Development​ Victoria.

YesNoNoDepartment of Education and Training

(DET) State jurisdiction - for example DET QLD (Department of Education and Training Queensland) and DET NSW (Department of Education and Training New South Wales).​


See Department of Education and Training


​See Department for Education

NoNoYesDiploma Awarding Body

The role of Diploma Awarding Bodies is to help centres and consortia to understand the operational arrangements and processes of the Diploma in relation to the DAB's line of learning.  DABs award and certificate whole Diploma qualifications for the lines of learning for which they are recognised.

YesYesYesDirect Environment

See Environment: Direct.


See Data Protection Act


NoYesNoEducational Service Agency

​Educational Service Agencies (ESAs) in many states play key roles in the economic and efficient provision of a wide range of educational services to their component school districts. ESAs are known by a variety of names including Educational Service Units (ESUs), Local Educational Agencies (LEAs), and Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES).

YesYesYesElement, Data

A data field representing a defined piece of information.​

YesYesYesElement-level filtering

Optionally performed at the ZIS level to remove certain specified elements from messages. This enables different data to be sent to different subscribers from the same published messages.


A way of coding information in a message so that if it is intercepted by someone as it travels over a network it cannot be read by the human eye.


A SIF Enterprise solution is comprised of SIF data model objects relevant to the situation on the ground; moves data over the SIF infrastructure; and is often coordinated by a highly scalable middleware product.  It is a custom API built up from generic SIF parts to meet the customer's real world needs.

YesYesYesEnterprise Service Bus (ESB)

See Broker.​

YesYesYesEntity Object
An Entity object represents a distinct concept taken from the logical and conceptual SIF models.  The design of these objects is model-driven, not use-case-driven, so they may need to be combined to fit a particular use case.  Examples of Entity Objects include student, teacher, school and student-school-enrollment.

The “SIF 3.0 Environment” is made available to a Service Consumer when it initially registers. It comprises the totality of every service the Consumer might possibly provision itself to access.  Based upon authentication constraints however, the Consumer’s access to some services it can see might be restricted. 

The Environment is defined by the set of Infrastructure Service URLs returned to a Service Consumer in response to a successful Registration Request. These URLs allow the Environments Provider to provide a “customized” environment for each Consumer.  For example, depending on the authentication provided by the Consumer at registration time, the URLs returned may insert it into either a production or test environment, or one which provides access to only a limited subset of authorized available Service Providers.

As noted, the physical topology behind the Consumer’s Environment interface can take one of two forms - Direct or Brokered.

Referenced in the SIF 3.0 Base Architecture documentation.

YesYesYesEnvironment: Brokered

The Brokered Environment securely and reliably connects N Service Consumers to a dynamically changing list of M Service Providers through a centrally secure, separate and discrete Message Broker.

Unlike the Direct Environment, any Service Consumer with the proper authorization rights can provision itself as a Service Provider, and receive Requests from and publish Events to, other Service Consumers with the appropriate authorization rights.
A Brokered Environment commonly includes access to additional Utility functions such as support for Extended XQuery across object type boundaries.
All of the functionality provided by the SIF 2.x Zone has been maintained in the SIF 3.0 Brokered Environment, and in many cases has been extended.  The formerly monolithic SIF 2.x ZIS operations have also been “repackaged” into more modular SIF 3.0 Infrastructure Service interfaces.
The “Message Broker” functionality requirements of a SIF 3.0 Brokered Environment can be implemented (among other alternatives) by SIF “business logic” layered on top of an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), by internally coupled middleware components or by an upgraded SIF 2.x Zone Integration Server (ZIS).
The Brokered Environment offers a superset (rather than replaces) the functionality of the Direct Environment.  As a result, any Consumer interoperating successfully in a Direct Environment can be redeployed into a Brokered Environment without reprogramming.
Referenced in the SIF 3.0 Base Architecture documentation.
YesYesYesEnvironment: Direct

New to the SIF 3.0 standard, the Direct Environment standardizes SIF-compliant message exchanges between Consumer and Provider in the absence of a central Message Broker.

The Direct Environment connects a single Consumer to a fixed set of one or more directly accessible Service Providers. These include, at a minimum, the mandatory set of Infrastructure Services, all mandatory Utility Services and at least one Data Object or Functional Service.
A Direct Environment conceptually does not leverage middleware. All Consumer to Provider connections are direct (no intermediary), because the Environments Provider Interface and all Service Provider Interfaces are implemented by an Environments Provider Adapter front-ending a single application (such as an SIS or LMS).  This means that a Service Consumer cannot dynamically provision itself as a Service Provider when registered in a Direct Environment.

Such an Adapter implementation could simultaneously provide a separate Direct Environment to each of several Service Consumers, to enable them to directly access and update the data of its provided application.

Referenced in the SIF 3.0 Base Architecture documentation.

YesYesYesEnvironments Provider

An Environments Provider reliably and securely connects the Service Consumers to the Service Providers by implementing a set of Infrastructure Services which taken together, comprise the Environments Provider interface. 

The implementer of the Environments Provider Interface may optionally (and transparently) implement one or more Services Provider Interfaces as well.  In the case of a Direct Environment, this is exactly what it must do.
SIF 2.x Equivalent for a Brokered Environments Provider:  ZIS
There is no SIF 2.x Equivalent for a Direct Environments Provider

Also known as e-portfolio. 

Collection of student work and other study-based information stored and transported electronically.


A type of message that is sent by an agent when information in its associated application is added, changed, or deleted.

NoYesNoEvery Child Matters

Every Child Matters: Change for Children is a new approach to the well-being of children and young people from birth to age nineteen (19).


The Government's aim is for every child, whatever their background or their circumstances, to have the support they need to be healthy; stay safe; enjoy and achieve; make a positive contribution and achieve economic well-being.

NoNoYeseXchanging Course Related Information

XCRI is a JISC-funded, UK-oriented project to establish a specification to support the eXchange of Course-Related Information.

A key activity for XCRI is the development of an XML specification, the XCRI Course Advertising Profile (or XCRI-CAP for short). Learning providers can publish their courses information in the standard XCRI-CAP format, so that it can be collected easily by organisations with course search services such as UCAS. Opening up the offerings of learning providers creates new possibilities for value-added services and information channels for universities, colleges, and training providers.
YesYesYesExtensible Markup Language

(XML) A standard language used to describe data. SIF messages are defined using XML.



​See Further Education


​See Fluent English Proficient

NoYesNoFluent English Proficient

A designation that means that a student is no longer considered as part of the school's English learner population. It refers to students who have learned English.

YesYesYesFunctional Service

See Service: Functional.​

NoNoYesFurther Education

Further education (often abbreviated "FE") is a term mainly used in connection with education in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. It is post-compulsory education (in addition to that received at secondary school), that is distinct from the education offered in universities (higher education). It may be at the same level, at a higher level, or at a lower level than secondary education, anything from basic training to Higher National Diploma or Foundation Degree.

A distinction is usually made between FE and higher education ("HE") which is education at a higher level than secondary school, usually provided in distinct institutions such as universities.  FE in the United Kingdom therefore includes education for people over 16, usually excluding universities. It is primarily taught in FE colleges (which are similar in concept to United States community colleges, and sometimes use "community college" in their title), work-based learning, and adult and community learning institutions.

Globally Unique Identifier, a 32-character identifier unique across space and time. Frequently used to uniquely identify each instance of a data object (RefId), resulting in a mechanism for uniquely mapping a specific person, school, etc. in one application with the same entity in another application.




​See Higher Education

NoNoYesHigher Education

Higher Education (HE)is the level of instruction above that of courses leading to GCE 'A' levels, SCE 'Highers' and Certificate of Sixth Year Studies, ONC or OND.  E.g. a qualification at NVQ levels 4 or 5 such as (but not exclusively) a higher degree, a first degree, a teaching qualification or a nursing qualification.

YesYesYesHorizontal reporting

See Reporting: Horizontal.​


See Hypertext Transfer Protocol


See Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer

YesYesYesHypertext Transfer Protocol

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is a communications protocol for the transfer of information on the Internet. Its use for retrieving inter-linked text documents (hypertext) led to the establishment of the World Wide Web.

Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP
YesYesYesHypertext Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer

Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer or HTTPS is a URI scheme used to indicate a secure HTTP connection. It is syntactically identical to the http:// scheme normally used for accessing resources using HTTP. Using an https: URL indicates that HTTP is to be used, but with a different default TCP port (443) and an additional encryption/authentication layer between the HTTP and TCP. This system was designed by Netscape Communications Corporation to provide authentication and encrypted communication and is widely used on the World Wide Web for security-sensitive communication such as payment transactions and corporate information systems.

Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTPS

See Information Commissioner’s Office


The unique and immutable identifier of a specific Data Object.


​See Individualized Education Plan


See Individual Learning Plan


See Individual Learner Record

NoNoYesIndividual Learning Plan

Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) were first outlined in the DfES document “14-19: Opportunity and excellence” (January 2003), alongside increased vocational options and greater flexibility in the Key Stage 4 curriculum. They are likely to be important in developments following the Government's White Paper "14-19 Education and Skills", published in February 2005.  An Individual Learning Plan becomes increasingly important with increasing flexibility at Key Stage 4 and an increasing range of progression routes from age 16.
An individual learning plan is a plan for education and learning across the whole of 14-19, completed in year 9. It is not intended to restrict young peoples’ choices, but is likely to be revised on an annual basis as future plans become more concrete.
There is no national blueprint.
An individual learning plan:
  • Records the progress and achievement of a young person by age 14 (this could include for example SATs results at Key Stage 2 and 3 and likely Key Stage 4 outcomes)
  • Identifies choices at Key Stage 4 (including entitlement subjects, vocational options and possibly ideas for work experience)
  • Establishes broad learning and career goals for the whole of the 14-19 phase
  • Provides the basis for on-going monitoring and review of progress throughout the 14-19 phase (for example transfer of information between pre-16 and post-16 institutions has always been a difficulty, but in one 14-19 Pathfinder they are working on an electronic version that young people could choose to take with them).
NoNoYesIndividualised Learner Record

The Individualised Learner Record (ILR) is a collection of statistical data returned at various points of the academic year by providers in the Further Education system.


Providers submit information to the ILR at specified times throughout the academic year. The file they submit to is dependant on the funding stream that they are in receipt of, i.e. Learner Responsive (LR), Employer Responsive (ER), Adult Safeguarded Learning (ASL), European Social Fund (ESF) or University for Industry (UfI).

Up to and including 2007/2008, the ILR was monitored, collected and processed by the LSC, but from 2008/2009, two independent organisations were established to take responsibility for it;
The Information Authority - Overall responsibility for the ILR and the format of the information within it.
The Data Service - carry out processing and dissemination of the data.
NoYesNoIndividualized Education Plan

(IEP) Refers to a written statement for each individual with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in accordance with Title 42 U.S.C. Section 1414(d).

NoNoYesInformation Commissioner's Office

(ICO) The Information Commissioner's Office is the UK's independent authority set up to promote access to official information and to protect personal information

NoNoYesInformation Standards Board

The Information Standards Board (ISB) for education, skills and children’s services (escs) will be the overarching authority and governing body for the management and assurance of information and data standards across the escs system.  Approved ISB information standards will ensure that information is stored in common, consistent formats which will aid front line delivery, reduce bureaucracy and enable a more joined up service.

The ISB is part of a wider Information Governance structure and reports to the DfE/DIUS Group CIO Council.

A worldwide "network of networks" that allows participants in different electronic networks to share information, transfer files, access news, and communicate through electronic mail.


Decision made by the A4L Community that elaborates or refines the meaning of a SIF Specification; or a standard or specification referenced by a SIF Specification.


See Information Standards Board


​ISB Technical Support Service.  See also Information Standards Board.





(JavaScript Object Notation) ​A tree serialization of data, similar to XML, easily leveraged by many systems especially those with support for JavaScript.


Education body in Australia charged with the management of a school system. Examples include CEOM (Catholic Education Office Melbourne) which looks after Victorian Catholic schools, DET QLD (Department of Education and Training Queensland) and the NSW Independent Schools Association. Generally jurisdictions are state- or regionally-based, and cover three types of schools in the K12 area - state, Catholic and independent.


NoNoYesKey Stage

A Key Stage is a stage of the state education system in the UK setting the educational knowledge expected of students at various ages.

The stages are as follows:
Key Stage 0: Nursery and reception years (3-5 years old). Now included as part of the Early Years Foundation Stage
Key Stage 1: Years 1 to 2 (5-7 years old)
Key Stage 2: Years 3 to 6 (7-11 years old)
Key Stage 3: Years 7 to 9 (11-14 years old)
Key Stage 4: Years 10 to 11 (14-16 years old). The exams at the end are typically of the GCSE level.
Key Stage 5 (more commonly referred to as Sixth Form): Years 12 to 13 (16-18 years old). The exams at the end are typically A-Levels, AS-Levels, NVQs or HNDs.
The National Curriculum sets out targets to be achieved in various subject areas at each of the Key Stages.

​See Key Stage






​See Local Authority


​See Logical Data Model


​See Local Education Agency

NoNoYesLearner Record

The learner record is an aggregation of records about an individual’s learning that has already been collected by UK education bodies.

NoNoYesLearner Registration Service
(LRS) This is an internet-based service which enables education providers to generate a Unique Learner Number (ULN) for anyone over the age of 14 in UK education and training.
YesNoNoLearning Management System

(LMS) See Learning Platform.

NoNoYesLearning Platform

A learning platform is an integrated set of interactive online services that provide teachers, learners, parents and others involved in education with information, tools and resources to support and enhance educational delivery and management.

The term learning platform refers to a range of tools and services often described using terms such as educational extranet, VLE, LMS, ILMS and LCMS providing learning and content management.
The term learning platform also includes the personal learning environment (PLE) or personal online learning space (POLS), including tools and systems that allow the development and management of eportfolios.
In principle a learning platform is a safe and secure environment that is reliable, available online and accessible to a wide user base. A user should be able to move between learning platforms throughout their life with no loss of access to their personal data.

Learning Management System - see Learning Platform.​

NoNoYesLocal Authority

Local Authorities (LAs) have a duty to promote the economic, environmental and social well-being of their area, including working on cross-cutting schemes with other partners. They are democratically accountable, which gives them a distinctive leadership role in local community to set a vision for education, children and young people's services and bring together partners to achieve change and improvement.

There are 150 LAs in England. Those LAs are responsible for the strategic management for education and children and young people's services including:
  • The welfare and education of every child
  • Special Educational Needs (SEN)
  • Planning the supply of school places
  • Making sure every child has access to a suitable school place, or has suitable provision made for them
  • Supporting the challenging schools, and intervening where a school is failing its pupils
  • Allocating funding to schools
  • Implementing the refurbishment or rebuilding of every secondary school over the next 10 to 15 years through Building Schools for the Future.
NoYesNoLocal Education Agency

​(LEA) A public board of education or other public authority within a State which maintains administrative control of public elementary or secondary schools in a city, county, township, school district, or other political subdivision of a state.

YesYesYesLogical Data Model

​(LDM) Contains granular details about the relationships between the data elements and the desired flow of data.


​See Learning Platform


​See Learner Registration Service