Jargon Buster

There are many terms and abbreviations used in schools and we believe it is important for parents to know the meanings of some of this 'jargon'

Jargon Buster

Annual review: the review of a statement of special educational needs which an LA [Local Authority] must make within 12 months of making the statement or, as the case may be, of the previous review.

Connexions Service: The service provides a single point of access for all 13 – 19 year olds to help them prepare for the transition to work and adult life.

Controlled Assessment: Controlled assessments were introduced with the first teaching of the revised GCSEs in September 2009. They take place under supervised conditions and are either set by awarding organisations and marked by teachers, or set by teachers and marked by awarding organisations. For example, a controlled assessment might involve allowing supervised access to the Internet.

Definition of SEN: A child is defined as having special educational needs (SEN) if he or she has a learning difficulty which needs special teaching. A learning difficulty means that the child has significantly greater difficulty in learning than most children of the same age. Or, it means a child has a disability which needs different educational facilities from those that schools generally provide for children of the same age in the area.

SEN coordinator (SENCO): member of staff of a school or early education setting who has responsibility for coordinating SEN provision within that school. In a small school the head teacher or deputy may take on this role. In larger schools there may be an SEN coordinating team.

Statement of Special Educational Needs: a legal document provided to the parents and those who will be working with a child with special educational needs. It is prepared after a formal, statutory assessment and is in five sections, covering the child’s personal details, a description of the child’s special educational needs, the provision needed to meet those special educational needs, the appropriate school or other placement, the child’s non-educational needs and the non-educational provision that is appropriate.

Educational Psychologist (EP): educational psychologists offer help and guidance to staff and parents who work with children with significant learning, communication, social, emotional, behavioural, physical or sensory difficulties.

Education Welfare Officer: person employed by an LA to help parents and LAs meet their respective statutory obligations in relation to school attendance. In some LAs Education Welfare Officers are known as Education Social Workers.

GCSEs [The General Certificate of Secondary Education] is an academic qualification awarded in a specified subject, generally taken in a number of subjects by students aged 14–16 in secondary education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and is equivalent to a Level 2 (A*- C) and Level 1 (D- G) in Key Skills. 

PE: Physical Eduction - Sports, such as Rounders, Netball, Hockey etc. Students will study PE as part of the core Curriculum.

ICT - Information and Communication Technology: covers a range of microcomputers, both portable and desktop as well as generic or integrated software packages. ICT as it is referred to in the curriculum, involves the use of Technology both in the classroom and school in general to assist learning. 

Integration: educating children with special educational needs together with children without special educational needs in mainstream schools wherever possible, and ensuring that children with special educational needs engage in the activities of theschool together with children who do not have special educational needs.

Key Stage 3 (commonly abbreviated as KS3) is the legal term for the three years of schooling in maintained schools in England and Wales normally known as Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9, when pupils are aged between 11 and 14.

Key Stage 4 is the legal term for the two years of school education which incorporate GCSEs, and other exams, in maintained schools in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland—normally known as Year 10 and Year 11 in England and Wales, and Year 11 and Year 12 in Northern Ireland, when pupils are aged between 14 and 16.

National Curriculum: this sets out a clear, full and statutory entitlement to learning for all pupils, determining what should be taught and setting attainment targets for learning. It also determines how performance will be assessed and reported.

OFSTED – Office for Standards in Education: a non-Ministerial government department established under the Education (Schools) Act 1992 to take responsibility for the inspection of all schools in England. Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) forms their professional arm.

School attendance and absence

The law requires parents to make sure their children receive a full-time education suitable to their needs. For most children this means attending school regularly. As a last resort, schools and local authorities have legal powers to deal with poor attendance.

Teaching assistants (TAs): usually work with a teacher in their classroom. The teaching assistant takes on tasks that allow the teacher to concentrate on teaching (eg, by preparing the classroom for lessons and clearing up afterwards). To support pupils with particular individual needs, some teaching assistants work one-to-one, while others work in small groups.

Many schools employ teaching assistants with particular specialisms, including literacy, numeracy, Special Educational Needs (SEN), music, creative arts and bilingual TAs (where the first language of significant numbers of children is not English)..