one of the elements contributing to an event or situation. It is a useful term in educational study as it does not assume a full causal connection: a factor may influence or contribute but need not necessarily be the actual cause of some situation - other (more significant) factors may be involved.


things known to be true; reality, as opposed to beliefs, theories, or possibilities.


a particular subdivision in a university such as arts faculty or science faculty, or a similar such organisational approach in a secondary school or other institution. In the US, it is a collective term for teaching staff as a whole.

faith school

a school that has a particular religious character or links to a particular church or religious group. There are both state and private schools of this type (see denominational school).

false consciousness

a term deriving from Marxist theory which describes the state whereby dominant ideology so permeates the consciousness of exploited groups that they acquiesce in, justify and perpetuate their own exploitation. Critical reflection and/or sufficient information would, in contrast, enable the exploited to perceive better their situation. Its use has been criticised as suggesting that some other (knowledgeable) person does know what is in the best interests of the exploited, a view which can be used to justify a number of illiberal actions.


the act of determining that something is false; disproving a theory. It is a key term in the philosophy of science, notably in the work of Karl Popper (1902-1994) who argued that a hypothesis or theory is only scientific if it is falsifiable, if it is logically possible to disprove it. Popper also argued that theories could hold, even if they were not proven, until such time as they were falsified, which provides a means by which science can progress without absolute proof.


an evaluative response to a particular educational outcome or activity. It is also used more generally for any form of evaluative information received.

feeder school

a school whose members move on to another (higher) institution. Primary schools tend not to be described in this way any more as it represents them as subordinate or dependent. 'Associated primary school' has been used instead, as has 'learning community', to encapsulate all the linked schools in a locale.


the belief that advocates social, political and other rights for women equal to those of men. Feminist approaches to education and research would also seek to understand phenomena from a female perspective or in the light of female issues.


in educational research, a term used for the process of gathering evidence. In school contexts, it mostly refers to outdoor study activities in certain subject areas such as geography.


a card, part of a set, shown to a young learner, usually to check word recognition, or to test simple arithmetical tasks.


an arrangement whereby a learner attends school on a part-time basis, being home-educated for the rest of the time.

flexible learning

approaches to learning which emphasise student choice about where, when, and how learning will take place, adapting to individual preference and convenience.

flipped classroom

an approach to teaching, largely confined to the university sector currently, where new content is made available in advance online, or in videotaped format, with which learners engage in their own time, so that classroom activity is solely focused on activity related to that content. It thus frees up time and allows for more teacher-learner interaction. It is dependent on learners engaging with the material in advance and so claims of its value need to be framed in that context. (see blended learning)


a psychological term for the complete sense of fulfilment which a learner may experience when involved in activity which is interesting, rewarding, and fully engaging. It is sometimes summarised as involving self-efficacy in goal achievement


a coherent body of work created by a learner, usually in one subject area (see coursework).

forms of knowledge

a term from the work of P.H.Hirst (b. 1927) for different classes of knowledge which can be identified by their having distinct concepts, logical structures, and ways of judging truth and falsity. Hirst's views have been influential in curriculum design but are the subject of considerable criticism. Hirst identifies seven such forms of knowledge: mathematics, physical science, religion, philosophy, literature and the fine arts, moral, and interpersonal (see disciplines; domain).

foster care

arrangements for the support and upbringing of a child or young person, away from their natural home, but without adoption. It can be done within other family homes, or in a separate institution.


any theory which holds that beliefs are justified, or can be held as true, if they are based on foundation beliefs, such as a self-evident truth, or a basic proposition which is self-justifying. An example is the work of Rene Descartes (1596-1650) which identifies 'cogito ergo sum' - 'I think, therefore I am' - as a foundation belief. Many critics dispute that such foundations - absolutely free of doubt or scepticism - can be found

free school

a private school organised as an alternative to the traditional state or independent school, often featuring a flexible curriculum and progressive teaching methods. In England since 2010, it is the term used for an extension of the 'academy' school movement, indicating a school independent of local authorities but funded by central government.

free will

the philosophical view that human action is not determined by physical or other forces but is expressive of personal choice or volition (see determinism).

fresh start

in educational contexts, this usually refers (in a pejorative sense) to an approach which discounts or ignores prior learning and experience. Thus a secondary school which takes no account of a learner's primary school reports or achievements would be said to be practising a 'fresh start'.

full service model

a system of community school provision where a number of agencies are sited on the one campus and endeavour to work together in an integrated way - such as a secondary school with various health, social work, and employment bodies.


any doctrine stressing practicality and utility. In education, it is often used pejoratively of approaches which focus on skills and training at the expense of other curricular elements such as cultural or artistic enrichment, for example.

further education

educational provision beyond the secondary stage, most typically centred in college specialising in vocational courses.