prefixes which indicate scale: largest, medium, smallest. Their application depends on context. Thus in terms of education policy national level may be macro, local government level meso, and school level micro. In terms of a secondary school, however, whole school issues may be macro, departmental/faculty meso, individual classroom micro.

magnet school

a school in a locale which tends to attract more parents/pupils than any other(s). The main reason for its drawing power is often hard to identify but is commonly linked to social class. A school which already has a more middle-class roll will tend to attract even more middle class entrants, at the expense of other school(s) which then experience both falling rolls and a skewing of social mix.


descriptive of the Socratic method of revealing another's thinking or knowledge through a logical process of close questioning. The Greek root relates to midwifery so the meaning can be seen in terms of that metaphor - bringing something forth, revealing what is hidden.


the process or policy of including children with special or additional educational needs within state schools, rather than in special schools.


the act or process of managing, controlling, directing, administering. It is also used as a collective noun for those persons employed in such a role in an institution.


the belief that, as all organisations are basically similar, their performance can be optimised by the application of generic management skills and theory. Thus, professional experience and skills in education would not be seen as necessary for a manager in an educational context. The term is often used pejoratively of any approach which is management-dominated, often without due regard to educational theory and values, or of a viewpoint which stresses the important of internal management processes and structures in an educational institution at the expense of awareness of wider societal pressures and contextual influences.


placed in a position of low importance, with little influence or power. In educational contexts, it is often used in relation to disadvantaged or oppressed groups, but can also be used of viewpoints, ideas or theories which have been sidelined.


the belief in, or process of, making public sector agencies and provision function like a free market. In education, for example, this may involve creating 'consumer' choice, through having schools compete (for pupils) against each other like private companies, the theory being that this improves efficiency and accountability.


evaluating, assessing, or grading a learner's work. The term is fluid enough to range from merely applying a summative grade to supplying much more detailed feedback. The term is also used as noun for the actual material to be marked.


the political and economic philosophy of Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895). In brief, the theory holds that social and political structures are determined by economic conditions, that class domination has been the key phenomenon in social history, that class struggle creates historical change, and that capitalism will be superseded ultimately by communism. One aspect of its educational application, for example, would be the view that schools and the curriculum are not neutral but serve dominant class interests.

mastery learning

a term with wide application but most commonly used for an approach, drawn from the work of Benjamin Bloom (1913-1999), which concentrates on the learner becoming fully competent and skilled before attempting the next level of complexity. The connotations of the terms 'master' or 'mastery' make its modern usage rare (see Bloom's taxonomy).


in teaching, the idea that activities and learning programmes should be suited to pupil needs and abilities. In a research study, the attempt to ensure that groups to be compared are alike in key characteristics.


(1) the tendency to view possessions, consumption, and comfort above spiritual or other values. (2) the belief that nothing exists except matter, a rejection of idealism.


(an) average.


descriptive of an approach or theory which treats phenomena in purely physical ordeterministic ways. In education, it is often used pejoratively for any viewpoint which does not treat people as autonomous individuals but more as things or numbers.


the midpoint in a distribution (of scores in a test, for example). The mean is the average score but the median is the score which has an equal number of individual scores lying above and below it.


the faculty by which a person stores and remembers information.

mental age

a person's mental ability expressed in terms of the age at which the average person demonstrates the same ability. A mental age of 10 can be held by any person, regardless of human age, it representing what the average 10 year old person is capable of (normally in terms of verbal reasoning or some other reputed test of intelligence)


a more experienced person who advises and trains new colleagues.


a belief, or a system operating on the principles, that advancement and reward should be based on a person's perceived ability and talent rather than on wealth and privilege. Criticisms of it include the argument that it takes insufficient account of pre-existing societal inequalities such that the ability and talent of minorities or the disadvantaged may remain unrecognised, ignored, or suppressed.


a technique or procedure for summarising or collating the results of research studies which cover the same or similar topics (see systematic review).


thinking about thinking; awareness of one's thinking and cognitive processes. It has recently been suggested as an important aspect of successful learning.


in teaching, the principles, practices, and procedures which are employed (see pedagogy). In educational research, it refers to a justification of the principles, practices, and procedures informing the construction of, and employed in, the research project.

micro teaching

a scaled-down version of teaching, in controlled conditions, used for analysing teaching techniques and developing new skills. It often involves videotaping of lessons for the purpose of review and discussion.

middle class

the social division associated with professional and managerial employment, but also reflecting differences in terms of economic standing and culture (see working class).

middle school

an institution in England covering the ages from 8 to 12 or 9 to 13 - typically the upper stages of primary and lower stages of secondary.

mission statement

a formal summary of the aims and values of an organisation. In education, local authorities, institutions, and smaller bodies such as departments may have such.


a device to aid memory, particularly one where a phrase is created using the initial letters of the thing to be memorised. Every good boy deserves favour - for the notes on the scale EGBDF; Richard of York gave battle in vain - for the colours of the rainbow Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo and Violet. The more striking the phrase the more likely the memory will last.


teaching by example, where the teacher, or other learner in that role, demonstrates the intended outcome, process, or practice, with the aim that learners will imitate this, or base their own performance on it.


a term from the work of Mikhail Bakhtin (1895-1975), referring to any approach which does not permit a range of views but holds to 'one simple truth'; authoritarian (see dialogic).


an acronym for 'massive open online course'. This phenomenon began to flourish from around 2008 and involves online academic courses designed for mass participation through open access on the internet. Part of their attraction lies in that most are freely available and that some prestigious institutions have become involved. Few involve any form of assessment and their value remains questionable, although any long-term expansion could pose a challenge to the status and authority of the university system.


the study of, or beliefs about, what is considered right and wrong, and the nature of goodness (see ethics).


a term from psychology which refers to the factors which activate or maintain certain behaviours. It is of key interest in education, as it has an effect on learning and on learners' success (see extrinsic, intrinsic)


involving many different cultural, ethnic, racial, social, and religious groups. It may be used descriptively of a society, community, institution, or educational approach or programme.

multilateral school

a term from early 20th century education in England and Wales for a comprehensive state secondary school which served as the common school for an area. Similar schools in Scotlandwere known as omnibus schools.

multiple choice test

a form of assessment involving participants choosing the best or correct answer from a selection given in response to the stated question. They are quick and easy to administer but are problematic. For example, it can be prone to rewarding (informed) guesswork or of merely testing factual recall, unless well-designed.

multiple intelligences

a term from the work of Howard Gardner (b. 1943) which broadens the notion of intelligence to cover a wider range of human capacities rather than simply language/vocabulary and logico-mathematical abilities.