Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition

a term borrowed from surveying. In education it usually refers to something which is taken as a point of reference or comparison: for example schoolchildren's attainment in some subject area at a particular age or stage.


a predisposition that prevents impartiality or which promotes an unfair limited or prejudiced viewpoint. In a society or education system which purports to be multicultural and pluralist it is deemed to be important that school practices staff and resources are audited to minimise the risk of bias especially in sensitive areas such as race religion politics culture gender sexuality disability   and ethnicity

Big Brother

a term from George Orwell's novel 1984 referring to a system of government which is intrusively regulatory and controlling often with menace attached. It is now used of any management approach which uses surveillance and staff monitoring to an excessive extent.

bilateral school

in England a school which has both selective (grammar) and non-selective streams taught independently.


a complex term from German thought which means at its simplest level 'education'. The full meaning of the word however encompasses a sense of lifelong development in relation to personal cultural and social maturation.


the fact of being able to speak two languages especially native or habitual languages. At one time such a capacity was deemed to be a drawback for schoolchildren but is now believed to have broad educational benefits.

blended learning

approaches to learning where more than one approach is utilised or where there are multiple methods employed. It is most commonly used nowadays to cover practice where traditional face-to-face sessions are integrated with technology-centred approaches such as e-learning or online resources or support. As can be seen it is essentially focused on teaching rather than learning per se   and the degree of 'blending' may also be highly variable.

Bloom's taxonomy

a hierarchical system of classifying different learning objectives and skills devised by Benjamin Bloom (1913-1999). It covers three domains: the affective the psychomotor and the cognitive the last of which is most commonly referred to in educational contexts. This domain has six categories ranging from the lower order skills such as remembering facts to higher order skills such as synthesis and evaluation.

boarding school

a school where pupils are resident living in school accommodation. It is almost entirely limited to the private sector.


marginal usually refers to assessment where the object of consideration either just meets or just misses the criteria in question.


middle class often used in a pejorative sense for conventional materialistic even philistinevalues.


a joint approach to the generation of ideas where participants are encouraged to contribute in a spontaneous way. It can be used in problem-solving tasks or in any form of creative activity.


a term used principally in curriculum theory where it refers to the extent to which a curriculum covers a wide range of different subjects or the extent to which one particular subject area is approached through examining disparate issues as opposed to a narrow focus on one aspect (see depth).


an adjective in common use for a learner deemed to be particularly able in one or more subject areas.


a person who mentors or supports a younger or inexperienced colleague. In schools it is a term often used for a system where older pupils help or befriend new arrivals or younger pupils in general.

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