Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition
charity school

a type of school in UK - predominantly English - history set up by an individual or private body to provide basic education for the poor. They originated in the 18th century many early ones established under the auspices of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. In Scotland the equivalent was the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge which ran around 200 schools until they were brought into the state sector in 1872.


a young human below the age of full physical development. A strict definition is controversial in education as it has an impact on many related issues such as rights responsibility autonomy and choice.

child abuse

the physical emotional or sexual maltreatment of a young person.

child development

the biological and psychological process of growth of a child from infancy to adolescence including social cognitive and emotional development. It is the focus of countless rival theories adherence to which affects considerably the educational provision deemed appropriate for the child.

child guidance

the treatment of or service designed for children deemed to have cognitive emotional or behavioural problems. It now tends to be subsumed under the general title of the educational psychology service.

child protection

this refers to the safety and welfare of children and their protection from abuses of various sorts - physical emotional sexual. It is a matter covered by legislation and local authority guidelines: schools normally liaise with social services professionals in dealing with such matters. Concerns about the risks to children have led to measures to vet positively anyone who works with children.


in education giving priority to the interests and needs of children so distinguished from content-led or teacher-centred approaches.


parental choice has been emphasised by politicians in recent decades. It is particularly stressed in the area of school choice: selecting to send offspring to private school faith school or to make placing requests to choose state school. It is not uncontroversial as it is thought to favour articulate informed middle-class parents unduly and to skew badly school composition in certain areas. The place of choice in affecting learner engagement and motivation has also been recognised to some extent with schools and curricula endeavouring to create options as far as they deem it possible (see agency).


a common means for promoting government policy without recourse to legislation. A circular issued to education authorities or to schools does not have the force of law but can be very powerful in terms of elucidating policy and/or recommending action or practice.


the rights responsibilities functions privileges and duties of being a member of society. Concern in recent years at a perceived decline in its proper exercise has led to political expectations of schools to 'teach' citizenship and promote related characteristics and behaviours in their pupils. It is subject to a number of contested debates such as the extent to which a child is a citizen or merely a citizen 'in the making' about the balance between citizenship rights and citizenship responsibilities and about teaching citizenship as a subject discipline or as a practice.

civil service

the collective term for all employees of government departments.

civil society

a term used to distinguish areas of social life covering the family the economy culture and political interaction which are organised by and between individuals and groups outside  direct state control. It is thought to be a useful term to identify important areas of life which cannot just be understood as subordinated to the workings of the state or the economy.


a system for the categorisation of people according to their perceived social or economic status. Terms include upper class ruling class  middle class  working class (see social class).

class contact

a teacher's direct formal involvement with a group of pupils. It is a term most used in calculating a teacher's contractual hours of employment as most contracts will stipulate a maximum amount of time in this area.

class teaching

teaching of a whole class as opposed to a group groups or individual.

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