Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF)


The SIF Association, that is its members, have created a SIF Specification and local variants (e.g. USA, UK, Australia).

The scope of the specification is the exchange of mostly administrative information.

The aim is that schools will be enabled to better utilize technology in a manner that leverages the promise and capabilities of interoperability between disparate applications. The SIF Association brings together the developers and vendors of school technology with the federal, state and local educators who use that technology.

In the UK this is an important set of specifications for transfer of school data that has been adopted in products and by major providers of systems. There are other models but the UK version is considered here as an exemplar of a European specification. There is activity elsewhere in Europe, for example Poland (please add or send in information about the use of SIF in Europe).

There are not significant parts of the SIF specification that cover intended learning outcomes or competences, but they are mentioned.

General information

The Systems Interoperability Framework (SIF) is not a product, but a technical blueprint for enabling diverse applications to interact and share data related to entities in the education, skills and children's services (escs) sector.

The SIF Implementation Specification is based on the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) endorsed Extensible Markup Language (XML) which is not linked to a specific operating system or platform.
XML defines common data formats and rules of interaction and architecture.

Event Reporting is a Publish/Subscribe Model.
Events are published/reported by each application and are received by other applications that have subscribed to them.

Data Provision is a Request/Response Model.
An application agent may register itself with the ZIS as a provider of certain data objects. This allows the ZIS to satisfy a query request from an agent to locate the provider of a data object. The ZIS acts as the intermediary, forwarding the request to the agent, receiving the response, and then forwarding the response back to the original requester.

Messages are securely encrypted using HTTPS.
HTTPS is the most commonly used secure method of exchanging data among web browsers.

Agents are authenticated by the ZIS before messages are passed.

Message processing includes message validation and message identification.
Guaranteed message delivery.

information to be gathered details
Name / title of source/model and version if applicable SIF Implementation Specification 1.4 UK
Stakeholder SIFA UK
URL of source or stakeholder
Orientation (work, education, etc.) School administration
Explicit model or implicit model? Explicit
Can organisations have competence? No
Number of people currently affected Mostly Department for Education, suppliers of management systems and schools
Sectors covered Schools in UK
Groups of actual users SIF Association UK
Significant use cases See SIFA UK
Significant business cases
Sample materials see site
Key features influencing their uptake of InLOC outputs SIFA UK is driven by educational organisational requirements, government policy and commercial considerations. There would need to be a clear justification for using InLOC. There is potential for SIF to consider adopting InLOC guidance for referencing LOCs.


(see the Features page or the separate pages for each feature)

N Features ? notes
00 More than one model 1 Essentially a single specification but is provided in several documents and xml schemas. It is not a model of LOCs but predominantly pupil data that includes reference to learner objectives and assessments.
01 Identifiers 1 uses GUID
02 Hierarchy (internal) 0  
03 Internal relationships 0  
04 External relationships 0  
05 Conditionality / optionality 0  
06 Text syntax 0  
07 Structured identifiers 0 GUIDs
08 Classification 1 Using a range of properties
09 Level attribution 1  
10 Level definition 1 To some extent. Uses Blooms taxonomy
11 Context 1 Exchange of school administration information.
12 Evidence and assessment 1  
13 Extensions 1  
14 Profiles 1  
15 Adaptation 1  
16 Definition by example 1  
17 Learning resources 0  
18 Learner records 1  
19 Multilinguality 0 Not really in UK version.

Further information

There is an educational filter. 

Based on feedback from publishers, instructional management and system integrator vendors, EducationFilter was developed to provide the ability to tag objects with metadata that allows for categorization, sorting, and filtering, to empower teaching and learning SIF usage. There exist two main business cases:

  • Content providers receiving a request for learning resources can tag content with applicable filters. Upon receipt of SIF objects, receiving application can then read the metadata to categorize the content most appropriately.
  • When supported by providers, this metadata can then be utilized in queries to more precisely limit the type of content returned to requesting applications.

that includes properties that are related to LOCs e.g.:

  • InterestLevels - for year group
  • LearningStandardItems
  • BloomsTaxonomyLevels -  limited to the cognitive domain, including knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation
  • MultipleIntelligencies -  include linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical intelligence, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalist
  • Instructional Strategies - LectureOnlineDiscussionCooperative GroupScenarioDemonstration/LabSelf-studyProblem-Based LearningProjectOther
  • LearningObjectives

Example of educational filter


  <MediaTypes> <MediaType>x-application/pdf</MediaType> </MediaTypes>

  <NCYearGroupList> <NCYearGroup>10</NCYearGroup> </NCYearGroupList>

  <SubjectAreaList> <SubjectArea>MAT</SubjectArea> <SubjectArea>LIF</SubjectArea> </SubjectAreaList>

  <InterestLevels> <InterestLevel>3</InterestLevel> </InterestLevels>

  <LearningStandardItems> <LearningStandardItemRefId>502070339FA347B5B123BEF68D118332</LearningStandardItemRefId> </LearningStandardItems>

  <BloomsTaxonomyLevels> <BloomsTaxonomyLevel>Analysis</BloomsTaxonomyLevel> </BloomsTaxonomyLevels>

  <MultipleIntelligences> <MultipleIntelligence>Logical-Mathematical</MultipleIntelligence> </MultipleIntelligences>

  <InstructionalStrategies> <InstructionalStrategy>Self-study</InstructionalStrategy> </InstructionalStrategies>


Guidelines requirements