Often used interchangeably with the phrase ‘special educational needs’, this means that a learner could need additional support in class in relation to physical or mental-health needs, trauma and adverse childhood experiences, as well as in relation to a specific or other learning difficulty and/or physical difficulty.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A behavioural disorder that includes symptoms such as inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. This would normally be diagnosed by a psychiatrist.
Age groups (4+, 7+, 8+ etc)
A child usually starts school in Reception in the September of the year he or she turns 4 – if, for example, the child’s birthday is 1 October, they will be aged 4 years and 10 months when they start school; if the child’s birthday is 1 August, they will be aged 4 years and one month. This is what we mean when we refer to 4+ entry. Similarly, a child may start senior school in the September of the year they turn 11 – this is what we mean by 11+ entry (school year 7). Other schools start in Year 9 with 13+ entry - children start at these schools in September of the year they turn 13.
Sleeping at school. Boarding might be full (where pupils spend the majority of the term at school, weekends included); weekly (pupils board from Sunday evening or Monday morning to Friday evening or Saturday afternoon); flexi (pupils board for a set number of nights per week); or occasional (pupils board for a night when they choose to).
Boarding Schools Association: boarding.org.uk
The Cognitive Ability Test, which measures a pupil’s academic potential.
Combined Cadet Force.
Continuity of Education Allowance
The Duke of Edinburgh Award: dofe.org
Design and Technology
A condition associated with specific learning difficulties in maths. Learners may have problems with even ‘simple’ arithmetic or specific types of calculations. Practical learning is a key part of supporting learners with dyscalculia; interestingly, this kind of approach may also benefit learners in a class who do not have it.
A learning difficulty that affects writing. It can manifest as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting thoughts on paper. Handwriting requires a complex set of motor and information-processing skills and it is key in identifying the exact difficulties being experienced by a learner with dysgraphia.
A learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal-processing speed.
A common developmental disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. It may also affect speech and presentation, and as with all additional needs, will be unique to the individual. For example, some learners with dyspraxia have strong gross motor skills while others might not.
English as an additional language
A key part of the educational psychologist’s role is to identify barriers to learning that are being experienced by a learner and then to suggest strategies and provision to support them. To request additional time in an exam or additional support at school, a report from an educational psychologist is likely to be required. However, if your child has difficulties in some specialist areas, such as with speech and language or occupational-therapy-related barriers to learning, then evidence of your child’s needs and the type of support required may need to be provided by a professional such as a speech and language therapist or occupational therapist.
The Education and Health Care Plan is a formal document between the local authority in which a learner resides and their family that specifies the nature of difficulties that a child may be experiencing and how these difficulties will be supported. An assessment for an EHCP can be requested by a school or by the family of the learner. Some EHCPs name an independent school for the learner, the fees for which are paid by the local authority. However, local authorities prefer to name a school within their borough that is within the state sector. Plans are reviewed annually, and this review would normally be put in place by the school, with parents and other professionals attending.
Extended Project Qualification.
In boarding schools, an exeat weekend is one where the school closes and all pupils go home.
Early Years Foundation Stage.
A ball game played by a small number of schools.
If a school offers flexi boarding, its pupils can choose to board for a set number of nights per week.
If a school offers full boarding, its pupils spend the majority of the term at school, weekends included. The more traditional senior schools are full boarding-only and either all or the vast majority of pupils full-board.
A member of school staff who is a prospective university student on their gap year between school and university.
General Certificate of Secondary Education
Girls’ Day School Trust.
Girls’ Schools Association: gsa.uk.com
High Performance Learning
A framework of teaching developed from research into how children learn. It reflects what is known about advanced thinking skills and learning behaviours that help to build ‘better brains’.
Headmasters’ and Headmistress’s Conference – the professional association of the heads of the world's leading independent schools: hmc.org.uk
The Independent Association of Prep Schools: iaps.uk
Information and Communication Technology (sometimes referred to as IT).
Individual Education Plan. It is best practice for an Individual Education Plan to be in place for learners with any type of additional need. It is produced by the school in consultation with parents to set out the nature of targets and support that will be put in place to help a learner with additional needs.
Fee-paying schools, independent of local or central-government control. Some are privately owned (hence the generic synonym ‘private schools’). While junior schools within the independent sector are known as ‘prep schools’ the senior schools within the independent sector can be known as ‘public schools’, leading to a confusing situation whereby a private school can also be a public school. (‘Public school’ is a historic reference from the times when local grammar schools opened their doors to pupils from other regions, irrespective of religious denomination or other categorisation). Many independent schools are charitable trusts, overseen by a board of governors.
Independent Schools Association: isaschools.org.uk
Independent Schools Council: isc.com
Independent Schools Examination Board, which sets the entry examinations for pupils seeking to enter independent schools at 11+ and 13+, including the Common Pre-test and Common Entrance.
The stages of the UK national curriculum.
Tables used to measure and rank how school pupils have
performed in public examinations, including (but not limited to) SATS, GCSE’s,
A-levels and the IB.
A method of education for children 0-5 developed by Dr Maria Montessori in 1907 which encourages independent learning by allowing children to choose the resources they want to play with under the gentle guidance of their Montessori trained teachers. Children of mixed ages are taught in one classroom enabling the younger children to learn from the older children, and for everyone to develop at an appropriate rate for them.
Pre-schools where children can start aged two or three (please note – these are different from day nurseries, where children can start as early as three months). Nursery schools tend to offer morning or afternoon sessions initially; children build up to full days in readiness to start school, usually in the September of the year they turn four.
Oxford and Cambridge universities.
Pre-prep schools are for children aged four to seven, from Reception up to Year 2 (or sometimes to Year 3 – age eight). Exit will be either 7+ or 8+, or children will move seamlessly into a linked prep school.
Prep schools may be for children aged four to 11 (Reception to Year 6); four to 13 (Reception to Year 8); seven to 13 (Year 3 to Year 8); or eight to 13 (Year 4 to Year 8), with exit at either 11+ or 13+, or alternatively transferring seamlessly into a linked senior school. From Years 5 to 8, children are introduced to more specialist teaching in preparation for their exit to senior school.
Cambridge Pre-University (never referred to as such, always Pre-U). An alternative to A-levels.
Traditionally means a fee-paying school, run by a private group. We use the term ‘independent school’. See Independent schools, above, for full definition.
Personal, Social, Health and Economic education. PSHE has a variety of aliases: PHE, PSHCE and school-specific names (at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, for example, it's called ‘Wellbeing’.)
In the past, ‘public school’ has been used to mean a fee-paying school. We don’t use this term (or ‘private school’) because we feel it’s confusing (in the US, for example, ‘public schools’ are funded by the public – what we would call ‘state schools’). See Independent schools, above, for full definition.
Russell Group universities
The Russell Group represents 24 leading UK universities. Students heading to Oxford or Cambridge will be included in this percentage. russellgroup.ac.uk/about/
Tests taken by primary-school children, at the end of Key Stage One (year two, aged 7+) and the end of Key Stage Two (year six, aged 11+).
An admissions test for entry into US universities.
Social, Emotional and Mental-Health needs.
Special Educational Needs. These refer to any learning-profile-related needs that a learner may experience and can also include mental- and physical-health needs, specific learning difficulties, as well as physical disabilities or cognitive needs. For more information, read our article here
SENCo (or SENDCo)
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator. Every school should have someone in this role whose job is to coordinate with teachers, parents and professionals to help ensure that the needs of learners with a specific learning profile or difficulty are met.
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities: for more information, read our article here
Specific learning difficulties
A specific learning difficulty is a difference or difficulty with particular aspects of learning. The most common specific learning difficulties are dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, dyscalculia and dysgraphia (see above).
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics
Universities and College Admissions Services: ucas.com
United Kingdom Mathematics Trust: ukmt.org.uk