a key term in educational research which relates to the extent to which the findings are soundly based and well-grounded in the evidence; empirical validity is the extent to which the methods employed actually test and examine what is purported to be tested (see ecological validity; reliability).

value added

a term used, particularly in relation to the performance of schools, for a measurable impact on pupil attainment which is more than that statistically expected. In other words, it appears that the school has improved its learners' levels of attainment more than that of other schools. However, without very detailed knowledge of the nature of school composition - the socioeconomic background of learners - and their out-of-school experiences, it is by no means easy to attribute causes for such phenomena.


principled preferences; standards; judgement of what things are good, valuable, important (in life).


the capacity of being verified, checked as accurate, true, or authentic. It is a key principle of logical positivism which held that a statement was only meaningful if it could be empirically verified (checked) or if it was tautological (see falsifiable)

virtual communities

a group of people who primarily interact by communication media rather than face-to-face.

virtue ethics

an approach to moral theory that stresses the key role of character as opposed to rules and consequences. It dates back to Aristotle who held that the acquisition of virtue is the proper goal of human conduct, the overall aim being to achieve a meaningful life.

viva voce

an oral examination, most commonly associated with degrees at doctoral level. It is often shortened to viva.


relating or pertaining to a vocation or occupation. Vocational aspects of the curriculum are those with a particular application to the world of work.

voluntary school

in England, a school in which a charity, religious, or faith group has a particular governing role in addition to that of the local authority.