Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition
pilot study

a small-scale trial undertaken prior to a major study or to test the effects of an intervention prior to its possible wider implementation. In education it may involve a research study of a particular teaching innovation curriculum materials or of wider social interventions aimed at educational improvement.


the practice of using someone else's work or ideas unacknowledged as if they were one's own. The internet has vastly increased the potential for this form of deceit to be exercised but modern technology also offers greater potential for its detection.


the formal process of making decisions about the future. At teacher level it involves preparing teaching programmes and associated resources and assessment. At institutional level it may involve decisions about such things as future objectives priorities budgeting staffing resources and investment. Educational bodies of all sorts would typically plan around central issues of curriculum  pedagogy and assessment although other pressures would inevitably have to be faced also.


a term in biology referring to the capacity of an organism to adapt to changes in its environment. In education it is an important concept in child development as it stressesnurture as opposed to nature that development is affected by environment and not determined solely by genes.


children particularly in the early years learn through play and so professional planning at these stages often concerns developing and extending play activities for educational purposes.


organisations often voluntary set up to provide young children with opportunities to meet and play together prior to the nursery stage.


belief or practice which reflects toleration of numerous distinct groups beliefs or practices in society or which views such a situation as socially desirable. It is also a term used in policy analysis for an approach which encourages or is based on many individuals or groups having an equal say in policy making. It is contrasted with elitism.


a complex term which can be summarised as an authoritative principle plan or guide for a course of action which embodies values. Policy can be understood as a product and as a process and need not be a text: unwritten policies are commonplace. In state education policies and policy influence can emanate from many sources the principal ones being at government levels - national and local - and at the level of institutional management.

policy community

 in education all the individuals and groups which have an input to policy creation and related activity (see leadership class elite pluralism)

policy enactment

a term now preferred for 'policy implementation', better reflecting the agency of those who use, or operate, policy (see policy refraction)

policy ownership

the fact or process of being committed to a particular policy because one has been involved in its creation. This is seen as a powerful management and institutional goal and is reflected in the number and extent of policy consultation exercises. These however would be self-defeating if designed as cosmetic rituals as many believe merely giving the appearance of an open and inclusive approach.

policy refraction

the phenomenon by which policy changes in nature as it proceeds from the decision-making level to implementation/enactment. Often there can be a wide divergence between original policy guidelines and how they actually work, or are implemented/enacted, in practice.

political correctness

the use of terms which aim not to exclude marginalise or insult any person or group suffering disadvantage or discrimination. On one side it is sometimes criticised for oversensitivity or for creating clumsy and unnatural expressions while on the other side it is criticised since underlying prejudiced attitudes may simply be masked by a façade of this inoffensive rhetoric.


the science or art of government the principles opinions or methods involved in the conduct of political affairs. As schooling is a political creation it is necessarily subject to political debate influence and control.


an institution in the UK offering courses at degree level or below often associated with vocational or technical subjects. Since 1992 it has gone out of use as these institutions were able to be renamed 'universities' from then.

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