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Brisbane Water Secondary College Umina Campus

Brisbane Water Secondary College Umina Campus

Respect - Commitment - Relationships

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School Jargon

School Jargon


Wondering why your kids talk about playing under the school COLA? Baffled at parent-teacher discussions about KLA's? You're not alone!

Schools sometimes have their own language, so we've provided this list of common abbreviations or terms to make the world inside the school gates seem a little more familiar.


AECG – Aboriginal Educational Consultative Group
AC – Aboriginal coordinator
ACLO – Aboriginal community liaison officer
ADD – Attention deficit disorder
ADHD – Attention deficit hyper activity disorder
AP – Assistant principal
ASLO – Aboriginal student liaison officer


BEC – Board endorsed course – HSC subjects  endorsed by the Board of Studies NSW.
BOS – Board of Studies NSW - The body responsible for the development of core syllabuses for Kindergarten to Year 12. It also manages external examinations such as the School Certificate and the Higher School Certificate.


CA – Creative arts
CAPA – Creative and performing arts
Civics and Citizenship – studied within Human society and its environment (see HSIE) and explores the people, processes and institutions that make up Australia's political system.
CLO – Community liaison officer – encourage and support parents and the wider community to be actively involved in school activities and students progress.
COGS – Connected outcome groups – Units of work, studied from Kindergarten to Year 6, which have been designed to link all key learning areas (see KLAs) together around one topic. For example "Being Australian" may be studied by Year 3-4 students and includes Science and technology, HSIE, PDHPE and creative arts components (see KLAs). Your child may be asked to do a project around a COG subject they are studying in class.
COLA – Covered outdoor learning area. Usually a covered structure in the playground which does double duty as a learning and play area.
Curriculum –The Australian curriculum in NSW is the planned program of teaching and learning constructed by educators, in partnership with learners and others, to achieve agreed educational outcomes.
Creative Arts – a key learning area covering visual arts, dance, drama and music.


DEC – Department of Education and Communities (NSW)
Distance Education Centres – Mostly integrated into local schools, these centres provide educational support for students enrolled in distance education. There are eight secondary and eleven primary distance education centres across the state.
DOCS – Department of Community Services, now Family and Community Services (FACS)
DP– Deputy principal


English –students learn about and learn to use English language and literature. Students respond to and compose texts of many kinds, e.g. film, plays, novels
ELLA – The English Language and Literacy Assessment measures Year 7 (and sometimes Year 8) student's achievement in literacy.
ESL – English as a second language.


FACS – Family and Community Services


G&T – Gifted and talented students are those whose potential is distinctly above average in one or more of the following domains of human ability: intellectual, creative, social and physical. Talented students are those whose skills are distinctly above average in one or more areas of human performance.
Grammar – Grammar is a way of describing how language works.
High schools or secondary schools – Schools for students from Years 7 to 12, they can be co-educational or single-sex.


HT – Head teacher. High school teacher with an executive position in a subject area.
HSC – Higher School Certificate (HSC). A locally, nationally and internationally recognised qualification for students who successfully complete secondary education in NSW.
HSIE – In Human society and its environment students study history, geography, civics and citizenship.
HSLO – Home School Liaison Officers work with school communities to encourage all students to attend school regularly.


IA – Industrial arts. Part of technology and applied studies (TAS). IA includes metalwork, woodwork, leatherwork, farm maintenance, engineering, electronics, polymers, ceramics, building and construction and multimedia/photography.
ICT – Information and communication technologies.
IEP –  Individual education plan
Infants schools – Smaller primary schools for students from Kindergarten to Year 2.

Information literacy – The ability to find, collect, organise, evaluate and use information.
IWB – Interactive whiteboards, also referred to as electronic whiteboards, are technology tools for learning in the classroom.


KLAs –  Key learning areas:  In primary school they are Englishmathematicsscience and technologyhuman society and its environment (HSIE)personal development, health and physical education (PDHPE), and creative arts. In high school KLAs also include creative and performing arts (CAPA)languages and  technological and applied studies (TAS)
Kindergarten – The first formal year of schooling in NSW. Students usually enrol in Kindergarten between the ages of 4.5 and 6 years old.


Learning Stages – Schooling in NSW follows a curriculum based on stages of learning.  Each stage is approximately equivalent to two school years.

Stages and equivalent school years

Learning 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 use information appropriately. It includes speaking, listening and critical thinking.
LOTE – Languages other than English


Marking guidelines – A set of agreed scoring guidelines used by teachers and examiners to assess students work.
Mathematics – It's often shortened to ‘maths'  and includes the study of number, patterns and algebra, measurement, data, space and geometry.
Matriculation – Eligibility to attend a university.
Middle years of schooling (also referred to as middle schooling or middle years) – Generally students in Years 5 to 9.
Module – Part of a course.
Mufti Day – Casual dress day. Schools sometimes allow students to wear something other than their uniform on a special day. It may be themed (for example on Harmony Day the school may decide everyone can wear orange clothing as part of the school celebrations). Sometimes it's a fundraising opportunity to raise money for charity. The school will always notify parents in advance of a mufti day. If there is a colour theme, don't panic if your child doesn't have exactly that colour clothing in their wardrobe - dress them as close as you can. You certainly don't have to go out and buy new clothes!
Multicultural education – Multicultural education promotes an understanding of many cultures and language groups.


NAPLAN – The National Assessment Program consists of national tests held in literacy and numeracy for all students in Australia at Years 3, 5, 7 and 9.
Numeracy – Basic skills in mathematics.


OC – Opportunity class placement may be offered to Year 5 and Year 6 students who are gifted or talented (see G&T), and who perform to a high standard in class.
OOSH – Centres that offer care for kids out of school hours. Many schools have an OOSH centre located on site, or close by.
Outcomes – The knowledge, skills, values and attitudes expected to be developed by the end of a program of learning.


P and C – Federation of parents and citizens associations give busy parents the opportunity to play and active role in their child's school life. Most schools have a P and C which meets each term to discuss and plan ways they can support the school through fundraising and community activities.
PDHPE – Personal development, health and physical education.
Pedagogy – The art and science of teaching.
Principal – The most senior executive in a school.


Reports – All schools are required to report to parents about student academic and non-academic learning in plain English. Twice yearly reports from your child's teacher give information about how your child is achieving against state wide standards as well as how they are progressing in comparison with classmates at the same school.
RFF - Relief from face-to-face. Teachers have two hours a week RFF time (during normal class time), when they aren't with their class. They use this time for planning lessons, marking exams, meeting with parents, organising educational resources or other tasks related to their work. Another teacher will be rostered to take the class during RFF.


Science – high school science contains such subjects as biology, chemistry and physics.
Science and Technology – in primary school science students learn about natural and built environments.
Selective high schools – schools for high achieving, academically talented students. Entry is via the selective high schools placement process, available to interested Year 6 students.
Senior college - schools for students in Years 11 and 12 and in some cases includes Year 10 students.
Syllabus – The description of what students are expected to learn in a course of study or key learning area. It includes aims, objectives, outcomes, content and assessment requirements.


TAFE – Technical and Further Education institutes provide technical and vocational education and training.
TAS – Technological and applied studies is the key learning area in secondary schools covering technology related subjects.


VET or VTE – Vocational Education and Training provides people with occupational or work-related knowledge and skills. Courses can be provided by TAFE, schools, group training companies, private colleges and some employers (Registered Training Organisations).VET in Schools allows students to combine vocational studies with their general education curriculum.
Visual literacy –  The ability to understand and use images


Work experience – Workplace learning (usually one or two weeks) of unpaid work undertaken by secondary school students to show them the world of work.
Work placement (also called field placement, vocational placement or structured work placement). A period of unpaid work with an employer done by Vocational Education and Training students to meet the requirements of a course or module. Students are supervised by the employer, the training provider or both.