specific facts, statistics, or items of information; the material generated by a research project or study. Data does not 'tell us' anything: it is the interpretation of data that is crucial.

day release

a programme whereby individuals are allowed to spend a day (usually per week) studying, training, or working away from their normal environment. It is commonly used in business or commerce but is also a term used in prison and secure hospital contexts.


descriptive of a system where power is redistributed or devolved away from a central authority. It can refer to arrangements in national or local government, or to an institution's internal structures.


removing excess material or demands; imposing order. In education, most often used for a process whereby curriculum content and assessment requirements are reduced and made more manageable and coherent.


a term originating in the work of Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) referring to the systematic analysis of texts to reveal how they 'construct' their object as if dealing with a definite 'presence' - an external reality or definite source of knowledge.


the drawing of a particular instance or truth by reference to a general rule or principle. In logic, the necessary conclusion from a premise: where it is impossible to assert the premise and deny the conclusion without contradicting oneself (see induction; syllogism).

deficit model

in education, any conceptualisation of a problem which describes it in terms of a deficiency or failure on behalf of a person or group as opposed to an institutional or systemic failure. For example, a deficit model would view disabled access as resting in the inability of the target group to enter a building as opposed to the failure of the building or those managing it to provide suitable entry for all. It is most common in discourse about pupil needs, learning, and behaviour.


in educational management, the action of entrusting tasks or responsibilities to others (usually junior colleagues). It is viewed as a more enlightened and efficient form of management but can be controversial when management retains financial reward for tasks and responsibilities which have thus now become the work of others or where key duties are entrusted to less qualified and capable staff.


a system of government where supreme power rests with the people; a way of organising an institution, system, group, or body according to the views of the majority of its members; an approach characterised by equal rights and fairness.


statistical data relating to population or particular population groups. In education, it can refer, for example, to the national make-up of the school population and trends in birth-rate, or to the characteristics of a population local to an area or school.

denominational school

a school run according to the principles of a particular religious group. Properly it only refers to a branch of the Christian church but has become synonymous with faith schools in general.


the damaging lack of material benefits, typically characterised by poverty, poor housing, bad health, and low wages or unemployment. The term is also used more broadly for any lack, such as emotional deprivation ( see disadvantage; socioeconomic).


a metaphor used primarily in relation to study or learning characterised by thoroughness, intensity, and complexity (see deep learning; surface learning).

derived score

a test result which has been subject to some modification, perhaps related to norm-referencing, as opposed to the raw score.


a term referring to a radical movement which flourished in the late 1960s early 1970s, and which argued that compulsory schooling should be abolished, principally because of its role in social control and indoctrination. A key proponent was Ivan Illich (1926-2002) who promoted the alternative of loosely-based community 'learning webs'.


the punishment of being kept at school after hours or during breaks. Critics question its value, not least since it is established on the view that being in school is a punishment and so seems unlikely to encourage future attendance, positive views of school, or to promote the desire to benefit from school.


the philosophical view that all things, including the human will, are determined by causes. The word is also sometimes used in education for the view, or actions and policies consistent with such a view, that a learner's ability is (essentially) preset and open to limited change or development.

development plan

a detailed scheme, usually prepared on an annual basis, setting out ways in which an organisation, group, or person aims to change or improve. In some countries their use is a legal requirement for education authorities and schools.


descriptive of a system or instance where power, duties, responsibilities, are passed to a lower level. At national level this can refer, for example, to parliamentary devolution; ai educational administration, it refers to the way in which power over certain matters such as budgets is passed from one level to another - from local council to school management or from school management to departmental or individual staff level (see delegation).

diagnostic assessment

an action or process aimed at identifying a particular problem or characteristic. For example, it may involve testing for symptoms of a specific learning difficulty or disorder.

dialectical materialism

a theory developed by Friedrich Engels (1820-95) and Karl Marx (1818-83) that matter (as opposed to mind) is fundamental, as is change (historical, political) which occurs through the social conflict of contradictions and their solutions.


in education, this refers to the oral, social interaction between teacher and learner. It is also a term used in the work of Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975) for any approach which allows for different outlooks or viewpoints as opposed to a single, monologic 'truth'. This can be seen as aligned with critical pedagogy and opposed to an instructivist, banking model of education.


in education, the process whereby teaching is adapted to suit the needs of different learners within a course, lesson, or classroom. It can involve modifying such things as the topic or subject matter, the task, or the levels of support provided.

direct grant schools

the term used in England for those schools, funded centrally, which provided local selective secondary education. They were abolished in 1976, some coming under local authority control and some becoming independent.

direct teaching

a term for the pedagogical approach where the teacher is communicating personally with a learner, group, or class. It is thus distinguished from any form of pupil-led activity such as group work or pair work. It need not be one-sided but any interaction would be initiated and driven by the teacher.


a physical or mental condition which limits a person's movements, senses, or activities.


in educational terms this normally means an unfavourable circumstance which limits educational opportunities or reduces the chances of progress.


the state or feeling of being dissatisfied with a situation or those in authority. In education, it is particularly associated with those teenagers discontented at their educational arrangements (seealienation).


a complex term, one sense of which can be described in the words of Michel Foucault (1926-1984) as the group of statements that belong to a single system of formation - for example, political discourse, educational discourse, psychiatric discourse. In a broader sense, however, discourse also means a whole way of understanding and constructing the world, a system of thought, and so is interwoven with issues of social practices and power.

discourse capture

a term for the subtle way in which dominant ideology in the form of its concepts and terminology, comes to be used widely and so becomes the natural way of speaking about and understanding certain issues, even although users may not consciously have subscribed to the underlying outlook.

discovery learning

an inquiry-based learning method. It takes place most notably in problem solving situations where the learner draws on his own experience and prior knowledge to discover the truths that are to be learned. It is a personal, internal, constructivist learning environment.


separate, distinct. 'Discreet', however, means careful, prudent, unobtrusive.


the unjust treatment, through prejudicial categorisation, of people, especially on such grounds as race, sex, religion, ability, or age.


in educational usage, this normally refers to a person's inclinations or tendencies, especially towards learning. It is a contested area as a disposition may merely be an observer's opinion or perception, and it is hard to judge if this perceived disposition is itself an effect of the person's educational experience rather than a causal factor.


disturbance to educational activity, especially that caused by behavioural problems.

distance learning

any programme of study where the learner does not require to be 'on site' to undertake the course. There are various different formats, such as through the medium of email, videoconferencing, online or correspondence courses.


having no finite limits. Divergent questioning means asking 'open' questions without a simple, factual answer in mind, aimed at genuinely eliciting opinion, thoughts. Divergent thinking is similarly free of pre-set restrictions. Divergent assessment involves asking open questions or setting tasks which are open-ended, allowing for original responses (see convergent)


having many differences, heterogenous. In education, it has been used to reflect a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural school population, but has also been used in relation to school provision which allows for many different types of schools to exist or be developed.


very authoritative, opinionated, and assertive, without proof. It can be a feature of certain types of teaching but also can be evident in pupil/student work such as essays.


a field of thought or activity. Educational domains traditionally covered the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. Subject disciplines such as history or science can be termed domains ( see also forms of knowledge).

double-loop learning

from the work of Chris Argyris (1923-2013), this refers principally to organisational settings where corrective action addresses both the means and the ends. The process involves questioning, and changing, the very goals and purposes of action as well as the means previously employed (see single-loop learning

Down's syndrome

a congenital disorder which has certain cognitive and physical effects. As its manifestations are varied, some children with the syndrome are able to attend mainstream schools whereas others may require to attend special schools.


an obsolete term for physical education, particularly of the form of mass exercise in the manner of military training. Also a term for certain repeated procedures in types of rote learning , such as a 'spelling drill'.


this term is used particularly with reference to motivation. In education, it is used for any action, feature, or phenomenon which stimulates or triggers an activity, feeling, or outcome. For example, something may said to be a driver of pupil engagement.


the state of being in two parts or a doctrine, belief which holds this. It can refer to theories and beliefs in numerous areas such as religion, morality, and politics. Typical examples of dualism would be a belief in good and evil, or in the separation of mind and body, or of the material and the spiritual

duty of care

a legal term in education which refers to the obligation to use a level of care towards pupils/children that any reasonable and prudent person would use to protect them from unnecessary risk of harm.


difficulty in learning or comprehending mathematical ideas. It can involve difficulty in performing arithmetical operations or more fundamentally with 'number sense' so that conceptualising numbers, whether as abstract ideas or as quantities, is problematic.


a neurological deficiency in language use, usually manifested in difficulties with reading and spelling. It is somewhat controversial as some dispute that is can be distinguished satisfactorily from those merely manifesting weak reading and spelling skills which have no neurological basis.


a condition affecting bodily movement, such as awkwardness in co-ordination.