a grouping of humans with common features thought to be inherited genetically; ancestry; tribal or national origin.


discrimination or prejudice on the grounds of race; belief in the superiority or inferiority of a person or group on the grounds of race. Racism can be conscious or unconscious and as with any form of discrimination can operate at individual, social, institutional, and systemic levels.

randomised control trial

a standard research method involving the creation of two closely matching groups, for comparative purposes, only one of which is then subjected to the intervention which is being studied. It is a common approach in science but meets with problems and criticism when implemented in educational research, not least because of the difficulty of generalising from the unique circumstances of the trial.


a set of reasons or the logical basis for a course of action or a belief.


(1) the practice or principle of basing opinions and actions on reason rather than on (religious) belief or emotions. (2) the philosophical theory that reason rather than experience is the foundation of certainty in knowledge.

raw score

in education, a test result or statistical data which has not been adjusted, or interpreted, in any way or had any contextual or mitigating factors taken into account.


in education, the state of being prepared to start school. Various tests and measures are in existence, designed to gauge the degree to which an individual will be able to cope in school and what support they may require.


a term with broad application: in philosophy it generally refers to the belief that there is anobjective world about which we can have objective knowledge. More commonly, it is a term used for an approach which accepts the world or situations as they are and judges the merits of ideas, plans, and actions on the extent to which they fit this viewpoint. Positively, this can be seen as a counter to the unfeasible and the idealistic but negatively it can be seen as being too resigned to things as they are and lacking the will to effect change or improvement.


practical politics: an approach which recognises issues of power and interest, rather than morals or ideals.


the tendency to relapse, particularly into anti-social, harmful, or discredited behaviours or attitudes.

reciprocal reading

an approach designed to aid reading comprehension where teacher and reader, or pairs/groups of readers, explore a text together through four main strategies of questioning,clarifying, sequencing, and predicting.

record keeping

an important aspect of schooling which involves keeping track of various issues relating to learners such as attendance, achievements, and progress. The rise in public accountability has led to considerable growth in record keeping and many critics compare negatively the increased time taken to manage this with its perceived value.


the practice of simplifying an activity, concept, or issue (to the point where the object of attention becomes distorted or misrepresented).


a process of careful consideration, especially in terms of reviewing behaviour, performance, incidents. It is seen as vital for teachers in respect of improving their own professional practice, and increasingly for learners in respect of improving their learning or study skills. It needs, therefore, to be conducted in an informed way to be of real value (see pedagogy; praxis; metacognition).


consciousness of one's own assumptions, role, impact. It is a key idea in research because it emphasises the role of the researcher in influencing both the research design and results.


the action or process of changing a system, institution, or practice with the intention of improving it.


mental preparation, especially by repetition.


the treatment of a concept or idea as a concrete thing. In Marxism, it also refers to the treatment of an individual as a commodity in terms of labour.


a responsive action designed to increase the likely recurrence of a behaviour. It is a term in common use in approaches to behaviour management or modification. It is a form ofconditioning and associated with behaviourist theories of learning.


social connection; the way in which two or more people feel and behave towards each other. As teaching is a social activity, relationships and their nature are key factors in its efficacy.


the theory, relevant in a number of different spheres, that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but vary with individuals and their environment, thus rejecting the idea of a single 'truth' or simple 'right' and 'wrong'. The term covers a range of philosophical positions.


the state or property of being connected to one's experience, current interests, or needs. It is a key concept in the educational theory of John Dewey (1859 - 1952) which argues that to be successful, teaching needs to focus on what the learner actually needs and wants, what is deemed relevant. Dewey saw learning as an evolutionary process whereby humans develop better ways of adapting to and improving their environment. So what is to be learned must be seen as having this connection if it is to be engaged with.


pertaining to action designed to address some difficulty or lack of progress in learning. It is most often used in the context of children with specific learning difficulties.


any action or course of action designed to rectify some difficulty or lack of progress in learning.


giving a verbal or written statement, in education most usually in terms of assessing a learner's progress, attainment, and achievements.


the ability to recover readily from, or adjust easily to, adversity, misfortune, or setbacks of any kind; buoyancy. It is viewed as being a key factor in success in education, particularly for those from disadvanted backgrounds. The importance given to it has been criticised, however, on the grounds that it seems to place the onus on the individual to adapt or cope, rather than focusing on action to address the underlying disadvantage itself.

restorative practice

an approach to behaviour management but also to personnel management generally which focuses on repairing relationships rather than on retribution or punishment in cases of misdemeanour or rule-breaking.

restricted code

a term in sociolinguistics which refers to a style of language marked by informal, predictable features and relying on contextual understanding and shared experience to convey meaning. It is contrasted with elaborated code.


the practice of amending or countering previously held or established opinions or attitudes; the modification of socialist or Marxist beliefs, typically away from revolutionary principles.


any consequence a person experiences to their behaviour which tends to increase the likelihood of that behaviour being repeated. Used widely in education, they are not without problems, however. They may increase compliant superficial behaviour whereas the underlying understanding and commitment may be missing; people respond in different ways so some rewards may not work. Other consequences, not intended as rewards, may be seen as such: for example, sanctions may reward because of the attention value (see reinforcement).


the art of effective or persuasive speaking. Sometimes the term is used pejoratively where there is perceived gap between the words used and evident reality. For example political claims about education may be described as mere 'rhetoric' if they are not seen to be a fair representation of the real situation ( see spin).

rhizomatic learning

a model where the curriculum is developed and adapted by participants in a dynamic way in response to circumstances. It stresses the interconnectedness of learning, networks of learners, and has no pre-set limits or outcomes.


benefits or other advantages to which an individual or group is entitled. There is a distinction between natural or human rights, to which all people are entitled, and civil rights to which people are entitled as citizens (of a particular state).


the quality of being extremely thorough and demanding. A term often used with approbation in evaluations of schools and their processes.

risk management

the process or procedures involved in assessing, and minimising or eliminating, the dangers - to assets, persons, and property - inherent in any aspect of an organization's operation or proposed operations. It is most commonly referred to in education in relation to school trips, particularly of the outdoor adventure type, where there may be a risk of injury or even death to participants. The increased fear of litigation resulting from such cases has led to some professionals becoming reluctant to become involved in these activities.


in schooling, this usually refers to regulations governing expected standards of behaviour. In recent times, learners have been involved more in creating such rules - encouraging self-discipline and policy ownership - and rules have tended to be expressed in terms of behaviour expected, deemed to be more effective than those expressed in negative terms : "Do not. . .!"