This glossary is a collection of terms and their operational definitions as they were used in a variety of Agency activities. You can use the filter to search and select the terms you want to see based on their place in the alphabet or the activities that they are related to.



Finance / financing

See ‘Education finance’.

(See also ‘Funding’)


A typography used in text-editing software. A sans serif font is a font without curls or strokes at the end of each character. Times New Roman is an exception of a sans serif font.

Formal education

Formal education is defined as education that is institutionalized, intentional, planned through public organizations and recognized private bodies and, in their totality, make up the formal education system of a country. Formal education programmes are thus recognized as such by the relevant national educational authorities or equivalent, e.g. any other institution in co-operation with the national or sub-national educational authorities. Formal education consists mostly of initial education. Vocational education, special needs education and some parts of adult education are often recognized as being part of the formal education system. Qualifications from formal education are by definition recognized and are therefore within the scope of ISCED [International Standard Classification of Education]. Institutionalized education occurs when an organisation provides structured educational arrangements, such as student-teacher relationships and/or interactions, that are specially designed for education and learning (UNESCO, 2011, p. 8, cited by European Agency, 2016, pp. 24–25).


How information is converted or packaged – such as text-editing programs or presentations – and delivered or presented to the user. The ending within file names usually shows the format it is saved in, such as .doc, .docx, .rtf, .xls, .csv, .jpg, .pdf, etc.

Formative assessment

A variety of methods teachers use to evaluate learner comprehension, learning needs and academic progress during a lesson or course. Formative assessment can help teachers identify concepts that learners are struggling to understand, skills they are having difficulty acquiring or learning standards they have not yet achieved so that lessons, teaching/learning approaches and support can be adjusted.

Formative assessment aims to collect detailed information that can be used to improve teaching and learning while it is happening. What makes an assessment ‘formative’ is not the design of a test, technique or self-evaluation, per se, but the way it is used — i.e. to inform in-process teaching and learning modifications.

Formative assessment is an integral part of effective teaching. It helps learners to develop an understanding of their own strengths and development needs (adapted from ‘formative assessment’ in the Glossary of Education Reform).


Resource allocation mechanisms (financial, human, technical, etc.).

Within an educational context, public funding may come from central, regional or local sources, with variations in transfer of resources between levels and the allocations that schools receive. Degrees of autonomy also vary between system levels.

(See also ‘Education finance’)

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