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Glossary And Abbreviations

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 A-B  C-D  E-G  H-I  J-N  O-Q  R-S  T-Z


A level General Certificate of Education, second public exam in the UK, taken at age 18

A2 The examinations at the end of the second year of an A level course

ABA Applied behavioural analysis - a method of teaching children with autistic spectrum disorders

ADD Attention deficit disorder

ADHD Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

AEN Additional educational needs (term used widely in Scotland)

ALIS A system of value-added measurement used by many schools to compare their GCSE and A level results

Amanuensis Someone who sits with a special needs student to help them put their thoughts on paper

ARCM Associate of the Royal College of Music

AS level Advanced Supplementary level public exam equivalent to half an A level, formerly taken as a supplement to A levels but now forming the first year of a standard A level course

ASD Autistic spectrum disorder

Assistant A young person from abroad, usually French or German, who helps teach the language (not to mention taking rugby etc)

AVCE Advanced Vocational Certificate of Education. A system of vocational qualifications, formerly GNVQ

BA Bachelor of Arts. University first degree

Bands Different academic levels for students. Some comprehensive schools divide their intake according to bands

BD Bachelor of Divinity

BEcon Bachelor of Economics

BEd Bachelor of Education. A teaching qualification

BESD Behavioural emotional and social difficulties

BHSAI British Horse Society Assistant Instructor – the lowest qualification needed to be a riding instructor

BLit Bachelor of Literature. University qualification

BMat Biomedical admissions test - for entry to some university courses in medicine and veterinary  medicine

BSc Bachelor of Science

BTEC A vocational qualification – alternative to A level – awarded by the Business and Technology Education Council

Bursary Contribution to the school fees, usually given to those who are poor

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C of E Church of England

C of S Church of Scotland

CAD Computer-aided design

CAE Computer-aided engineering

Cantab Cambridge (from the Latin)

CAT Cognitive ability test

CCF Combined Cadet Force. Para-military training corps for the young (boys and girls)

CE Common Entrance. Qualifying exam taken usually at 11, 12 or 13 in the private sector, for entry to senior schools

CertEd Certificate of Education. A teaching qualification

Combined sciences GCSE exam covering biology, chemistry and physics, counts as one GCSE

Comprehensive school Takes all pupils, regardless of their ability or aptitude. Some are fully comprehensive (no entrance exam whatsoever) and others have some selective measures

Crammers Schools that cram knowledge into the reluctant child, especially those having to re-take A levels because of low grades; not a term the schools use of themselves – ‘independent sixth form colleges’, ‘tutorial colleges’ or ‘independent further education’ is more to their taste

CReSTeD Council for the Registration of Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils, a charity that assesses and certifies the quality of teaching for dyslexic pupils

CSYS Certificate of Sixth Year Studies (used occasionally in Scotland)

D of E Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. A combination of various different activities, including demanding physical exercise, culminating in a medal

DCSF (Government) Department for Children, Schools and Families (formerly the DfES) was replaced May 2010 by the Department for Education 

DfE The Department for Education

DipEd A teaching qualification

DPhil Doctor of Philosophy

DT Design Technology

Dual Award (Science) GCSE exam covering biology, chemistry and physics – counts as two GCSEs

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EAL English as an Additional Language – the latest and PC acronym

EBD Emotional and behavioural difficulties

EFL English as a Foreign Language

ESL English as a Second Language

Forces The Army, Navy or Air Force, and adjuncts thereto

Foundation school A state school owned by a foundation (generally religious) which appoints some – but not most – of the governing body

FP Former pupil (Scottish expression)

FRS Fellow of the Royal Society (very grand)

FRSA Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (not grand)

Gap Work experience projects, expeditions etc in year between school and university. Also (when in capitals) name of organisation specialising in this

Gappies Foreign (usually Aus, NZ, SA) students in their gap year working in UK independent schools

GCSE General Certificate of Secondary Education. First public exam in the UK

GDST Girls’ Day School Trust (formerly called the Girls’ Public Day School Trust). A foundation of private schools

GNVQ General National Vocational Qualification. A system of vocational qualifications, now renamed AVCE

Grammar school A type of school which selects pupils on academic merit and provides a rigorous academic education (and sometimes not much else)

GSA Girls’ Schools’ Association. Female equivalent of HMC. See below

GSG Good Schools Guide

GSGi Good Schools Guide International - our sister site found at

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HI - Hearing impairment

Highers/Higher Grades Scottish public exam, usually taken at age 17 or 18. Similar to AS/ A2 exams in England.

HM Headmaster/mistress; Housemaster/mistress

HMC Headmasters’ Conference. A sort of headmasters’ (and now one or two headmistresses) trade union, mostly for public schools, whose heads belong and are considered ‘top’ by those in it

HND Higher National Diploma, a well-respected vocational qualification usually taken after A levels or AVCEs

IAPS Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools. Organisation of prep schools. Again, generally considered the ‘top’ ones by those in it

IB International Baccalaureate. A public exam at secondary level, increasingly recognised for entry to university in the UK

IBMYP International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme

IBPYP International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme

ICT Information communications technology

IGCSE International GCSE

Inclusion The concept that all children with special educational needs should be educated, if at all possible, in mainstream schools

Independent Word used by fee-paying schools to describe themselves – erroneously

Inter-denom Inter-denominational (refers to religious affiliation, supports more than one brand of Christianity)

IQ Intelligence Quotient

ISC Independent Schools Council – inspects independent schools (but not itself independent; owned and run by the schools)

ISCis information service of the above

ISCO Independent Schools Careers Organisation

IT Information technology

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KS (Key Stage) The National Curriculum is divided into four key stages according to pupils’ ages: KS1 for 5–7-year-olds, KS2 for 7–11, KS3 for 11–14, KS4 for 14–16

LA Local authority

LesL Licencié ès Lettres. French university degree

Lab Laboratory

LAMDA London Academy of Music and the Dramatic Arts

LDD Learning difficulties and disabilities

LNat National admissions test for Law

LSU Learning support unit

LTA Lawn Tennis Association

MA Master of Arts. University degree

MCSP Member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

MEd Master of Education. Teaching qualification

MIDYIS See ALIS, but this measures value-added up to GCSE

MLD Moderate learning difficulties

MoD Ministry of Defence

MSc Master of Science. University qualification

MSI Multi-sensory impairment

NFER National Foundation for Educational Research

NMSS Non-maintained special school - an independent school, approved by The Secretary of State for the education of children and young people with special educational needs. Most are run by charities or charitable foundations. Fees are usually paid by a child's home LA.

NNEB Nursery nurses official qualification

Non-denom Non-denominational (refers to religious affiliation, generally means pretty low-key)

NOS Not otherwise specified

NQT Newly qualified teacher

NVR(Q) Non-verbal reasoning (quotient), a test of ability used by some selective schools

NVQ National Vocational Qualifications

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OB Old Boy (ie former pupil of a school)

OCD Obsessive compulsive disorder

ODD Oppositional defiant disorder

OED Oxford English Dictionary

Ofsted Office for Standards in Education. Officially the Office of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools. Inspects schools and publishes reports on them

Ofqual The Office of Qualifications and Examinations - regulates 16+ examinations in England and vocational qualifications in NI.

OG Old Girl (ie former pupil of a school)

OSB Order of St Benedict

OTT Over the top, as in unacceptable behaviour

Oxbridge Short for Oxford and/or Cambridge universities

Oxon Oxford

Pastoral care Care of pupil on matters not related to their work, eg personal and social ones

PAT Physics aptitude test

PD Physical disability

PDD Pervasive development disorders

PE Physical education

PECS Picture exchange communication system -  a scheme to enable children with language and communication difficulties to communicate

PFI Private finance initiative: off-balance-sheet funding for the government, with private firms providing finance and facilities management

PGCE Postgraduate Certificate of Education. A teaching qualification

PhD Doctor of Philosophy (postgraduate degree)

PMLD Profound and multiple learning difficulties

Portage - a planned approach to home-based pre-school for children with special needs. Portage is overseen by The National Portage Association

PPP Public private partnership, see PFI

PSD Personal and Social Development

PS(H)E Personal, social (and health) education (courses)

PTA Parent–teacher association

QTS Qualified teacher status

qv quod vide – for which see, ie it has its own entry in this book

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RC Roman Catholic

RCSLT Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

RE Religious education – learn about beliefs

RI Religious instruction – learn to believe

RS Religious studies – learn about beliefs

RSA Royal Society of Arts

RSA CLAIT The RSA’s computer literacy and information technology qualification

RYA Royal Yachting Association

San Sanatorium, sick bay

SATs Tests sat by English state (and some private) school kids at 7, 11 and 14

SATS Test sat by American kids to get into US universities

School Action/School Action Plus Extra help/arrangements provided by the school to help children who are not making the progress expected.  School Action Plus involves help from outside, perhaps a therapist or educational psychologist

SEN Special educational needs – having disabilities (eg dyslexia, deafness) which require special provision to be made for a child’s education

SENCo Special educational needs coordinator

SEND Special educational needs and disabilities

SENDist Special educational needs disability tribunal a body to which parents can appeal if they are unable to reach agreement with their LA about the educational provision for their child. Also deals with claims of disability discrimination within schools. 

Services The Army, Navy or Air Force, and adjuncts thereto

Set A group of children of similar ability within a subject and year (children can be in the top set for one subject and the bottom for others, and may move between sets)

Six-inch rule Rule applied at some co-educational schools whereby boys and girls may not come closer to each other than six inches (in case they get over-excited)

SLD Severe learning difficulties

Sp&LD Speech and language difficulties

SPD Semantic pragmatic disorder

SpLD Specific learning difficulties, a portmanteau phrase covering dyslexia, dyspraxia etc.

SSSI Site of special scientific interest – designated as such by the government and, as such, protected

Standard Grades The Scottish equivalent of GCSEs phased out as of 2013.

Stooge A foreign gap-year student employed by a school

Streaming The practice of dividing a year group into streams of similar ability – if you are in the top stream you are in the top stream for all subjects

Suss Slang for find out, get to the bottom of, investigate, sniff out

SVQ Scottish Vocational Qualifications

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TEACCH Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children

TLC Tender loving care

Twoccer One who Takes a car Without the Owner’s Consent

UK CAT UK clinical aptitude test used by some universities to test a candidate's aptitude to study medicine or dentistry

V very

Vs Versus

VB Verbal behaviour (Autism)

VI Visual impairment

VIP Very important person

VCE Vocational Certificate in Education

VR(Q) Verbal reasoning (quotient), a test of ability used by many selective schools

WASP White Anglo-Saxon Protestant

YE Young Enterprise. A hands-on business studies course

YELLIS See ALIS, but this measures value-added at primary level

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