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Voices into Action (VIA) Toolkit

A digital resource supporting learner and family participation in educational decision-making

Glossary of key terms

The VIA toolkit uses key words and phrases that relate to including stakeholders in education discussions and decision-making. This glossary lists the VIA activity definitions of each term. Visit the Agency’s online glossary for a comprehensive list of terms across Agency activities.


The values, beliefs, views and perspectives of individual or groups of learners and families. 

‘Voices into Action’ means that learners and families are able to express themselves in educational discussions and influence decision-making across system levels.


This term encompasses those who care for and/or are closest to learners, whether these are parents, siblings, grandparents, extended family members/relatives, carers, guardians or other close community members.


All children and young people at the age of typical compulsory education levels, i.e. International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) levels 1–2. This includes those from vulnerable or hard-to-reach groups, those who are out of formal education, those in pre- or post-school education, as well as those missing from education.

Vulnerable to exclusion

Learners and families who may experience barriers to participation in quality education, or who may be marginalised within and/or isolated from the education system. Barriers may arise through personal or social circumstances, local or national events or other environmental factors. 


Having power to influence transformational change. In educational environments, learners and families have agency when they are able to initiate discussions, take action and share power, ensuring their voices are given weight in decision-making processes.

Meaningful participation

Participation is meaningful when learners and families are equipped and have opportunities to not only express their voices, but to be listened to and influence decisions. It requires recognising that learner and family voices are integral to educational discussions and decision-making across system levels. 

Ethical approaches

Ethics refers to how individual and group attitudes, actions and decisions may influence and have intended and unintended consequences on people’s lives. 

In the VIA activity, an ethical approach is one that protects and ensures human rights, respects diverse values and perspectives and recognises the voices of all learners and their families. Ethical approaches are transparent, respectful, inclusive, supported by training, safe and sensitive to risk, accountable and child- and adolescent-friendly. At every stage, ethical approaches involve reducing power imbalances and bias and enabling all to participate voluntarily.