Jargon Buster


Absence and Attendance Codes – A list of codes used by the Department for Education (DfE), which schools that are on the School Census are required to use when recording attendance and absence.

Academies – Publicly funded independent schools established under Section 482 of the Education Act 1996.

Achievement – Achievement now takes into account the standards of attainment reached by pupils and the progress they have made to reach those standards.  Attainment: this is the standard of academic attainment, typically shown by test and examination results. Progress: this is the extent to which pupils have progressed in their learning given their starting points and capabilities.

Admission authority – Local Authorities (LAs) are admission authorities with responsibility for admissions to community and voluntary controlled schools.

Admission forum – Section 85A of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 requires all LA areas to have an Admission Forum. Admission Forums are groups of local admission stakeholders, independent of the LA, which scrutinise admission arrangements and discuss their effectiveness, consider how to deal with difficult admission issues and advise admission authorities on the ways in which their arrangements can be improved. Forums have an important power to publish an annual fair access report on admissions and may exercise their statutory right of objection to admission arrangements.

Admissions register – The details, in alphabetical order, of all pupils that attend a school.

Appraisal – The process of assessing how well a member of staff is carrying out his or her job.

Approved educational activity – An activity that takes place outside the school premises and which has been approved by a person authorised to do so by the proprietor of the school. The activity is of an educational nature, including work experience, and is supervised by a person authorised on that behalf by the proprietor of the school.

Attainment targets – The knowledge, skills and understanding that pupils of differing ability and maturity are expected to attain by the end of each key stage of the national curriculum, i.e. assessed at ages 7, 11, 14 and 16.

Attendance register – A register is called at the beginning of the morning session and once during the afternoon. It must contain the names of all the pupils that attend a school.

Attendance Targets – Overall targets for reducing absence set by governing bodies (No longer statutory)

Authorised absence – Where the absence of a pupil has been agreed by the person authorised on their behalf by the proprietor of the school.


Behaviour support plan – A statement that sets out local arrangements for schools and other service providers for the education of children with behavioural difficulties.


Capital expenditure – Spending on building projects and large items of equipment.

Catchment area – A defined geographical area from which a school takes its pupils.

Children and Young People’s Plan – An overarching strategic plan for children’s services published by LAs under Section 17 of the Children Act 2004.

Children’s Trust – A broad coalition of all those interested locally in the wellbeing of children, including schools. The Children’s Trust partnership arrangements are underpinned by Section 10 of the Children Act 2004, the duty to co-operate.

Clerk to the governing body – A person appointed to carry out administrative duties for the governing body such as preparing an agenda, minuting meetings and dealing with correspondence. The clerk advises the governing body on legal and procedural matters.

Common transfer file – Information which must be transferred when a pupil moves from a maintained school to another school (whether or not a maintained school).

Community governor – A person appointed as a governor whom the governing body considers to be committed to the good government and success of the school. This person may or may not live or work in the community served by the school.

Contingency fund – Money set aside for unexpected costs.

Co-opted Governor – A governor appointed by the GB, under 2012 Constitution regulations.

Core subjects – English, mathematics and science are the subjects that must be studied by all pupils at every key stage. Progress in Key Stage 3 is assessed through teacher assessment.

Current expenditure – Spending on the day-to-day running of schools, including staff costs, heating and lighting, consumables and so on; sometimes called recurrent expenditure.


Deletion from the school roll – When a pupil’s name is removed from the admissions register.

Department for Education (DfE) – The central government department with responsibility for education.

Designated teacher – An advocate who liaises with other services on behalf of young people in care.

Devolved Formula Capital – Funds provided by the Local Authority for projects such as building work.

Disapplication – The term used where parts or all of the national curriculum requirements are lifted or modified in relation to a pupil in specified cases or circumstances.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) The Criminal Records Bureau ( CRB ) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority ( ISA ) have merged to become the Disclosure and Barring Service ( DBS ). CRB checks are now called DBS checks. A DBS check may be needed for: certain jobs or voluntary work, eg working with children or in healthcare.


Education Health & Care Plan (EHC) – A written statement of a child’s special educational needs and all the extra help that he or she should receive. The arrangements are made by the LA.

Education Welfare Officers – Also known as education social workers or attendance advisers, these officers are employed by LAs to resolve problems of children and young people regularly missing school.

English Baccalaureate:  This is not a qualification but a measure of achieving five good GCSEs.

Exclusion – Banning a pupil officially from school by the headteacher, either temporarily or permanently, on disciplinary grounds.

Ex officio governor – Someone who is automatically a governor or able to attend meetings of a governing body by virtue of the office they hold, for example a headteacher, i.e. the position of governor comes with the job.

Extended school – A school that provides a range of services and activities, often beyond the school day, to help meet the needs of its pupils, their families and the wider community.


Fair Processing Notice – An oral or written statement that an organization should give to individuals whose personal information they have collected. The statement is a requirement under the Data Protection Act 1998 and should inform the individual about the information collected, the purpose for its collection and how an individual may request access to it.

Federation of governing bodies – The arrangement whereby several schools join together under a single governing body. The schools remain separate schools but are governed by one body.

Formula funding – The method by which funds for school budgets are calculated. The most important factor is the number of pupils.


General Annual Grant – The funding for academies comes primarily in the form of a grant, known as the General Annual Grant (GAG), paid by the Education Funding Agency (EFA).


Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI) – Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector is the head of Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills).

Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMIs) – These are appointed by the Chief Inspector to support him or her in his or her statutory duties.

Home–school agreement – All state schools were required to have written home–school agreements, drawn up in consultation with parents. They are non-binding statements explaining the school’s aims and values, the responsibilities of both school and parents, and what the school expects of its pupils. Parents were invited to sign a parental declaration indicating that they understand and accept the contents of the agreement.


Inclusion statement – A statutory statement in the national curriculum to provide effective learning opportunities for all pupils through the school curriculum. Teachers can modify (as necessary) the national curriculum programmes of study to set suitable learning challenges, respond to pupils’ diverse learning needs, and address potential barriers to learning and assessment for individuals and groups of pupils.

Information Commissioner – The independent office holder set up to oversee and enforce the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act. More information can be found at www.ico.gov.uk

In-service Education and Training (INSET) – The professional training and development of teachers working in schools, generally taken as short courses or day conferences.


Key stages – The four stages of pupils’ progress in acquiring knowledge and skills as set out in the national curriculum. Key Stage 1, where the majority of pupils are aged 5 to 7; Key Stage 2, where the majority of pupils are aged 7 to 11; Key Stage 3, where the majority of children are aged 11 to 14; and Key Stage 4, where the majority of pupils are aged 14 to 16.


Lay member – A member appointed to a panel hearing appeals against non-admission or exclusion, being a person without personal experience in managing or providing education in any school (other than as a governor or on a voluntary basis). He or she must not have, or have had, any connection with the school, or any person who is a member of, or employed by, the governing body, if that might raise doubts about his or her ability to act fairly.

LA – Local Authority (formerly Local Education Authority).

List 99 – A list maintained by the Department for Children, Schools and Families of those people who are barred from working in schools and further education establishments. A number of people on the List are also barred from working with children across the children’s workforce.

Looked-after child – A child who, as defined in Section 22(1) of the Children Act 1989, is cared for by the LA or is provided with accommodation by an LA for more than 24 hours under a voluntary agreement with his or her parents, or who is the subject of a care order.


National curriculum – The national curriculum provides a broad and balanced education for all children, covering 12 subjects overall, and is divided into four key stages according to age. It includes statutory assessments, consisting of tests and teacher assessments, at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2 and teacher assessments at the end of Key Stage 3.

Non-teaching staff – Members of school staff employed by the governors to provide services in a school other than teaching, such as classroom assistants, cleaners and school secretaries.

NQT – A newly qualified teacher.


Ofqual – Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator, the organisation responsible for regulating qualifications, examinations and national curriculum tests in England.

Ofsted – Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. It brings together the regulation and inspection of day care and children’s social care and the inspection of LA children’s services, schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning, adult education and more.

Open enrolment – All schools must admit pupils up to their Published Admission Number (see Published Admission Number, below), which is calculated according to the physical capacity of the school to accommodate pupils.

Outturn – A statement prepared annually by an LA showing its incurred expenditure, and the schools that it maintains, during the financial year. The statement is in a form prescribed by Regulations and must be published and sent to the Secretary of State for Education.


Parent – Any person having parental responsibility for a child or who has care of a child, including an LA. Therefore, depending on the circumstances, a “parent” may include not only the child’s natural parents but also others such as step-parents, relatives, co-habitees of either natural parent and foster parents.

Parent governor – A parent elected by other parents of children at a school to serve on the governing body.

Parental responsibility – This means all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that a parent of a child has by law. More than one person may have parental responsibility for the same child at the same time, and a person does not cease to have such responsibility solely because some other person subsequently also acquires it. Both parents have parental responsibility if they were married to each other at the time of the child’s birth, although they may have since separated or divorced. If the child’s parents were not married at the time of the birth, the mother has parental responsibility for the child, and the father is able to acquire parental responsibility for the child if he: marries the mother of the child; enters into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother; registers the child’s birth jointly with the mother (effective from 1 December 2003, but not retrospective); or applies to the court for a parental responsibility order. A residence order confers parental responsibility on the holder for the duration of the order. Parental responsibility passes to the adopter when an adoption order is made. Although a care order confers parental responsibility on an LA, the LA will not be treated as a parent for certain purposes under the Education Acts.

Parenting orders – Schools or LAs can apply to the Magistrates Court for a civil parenting order against a parent where their child has seriously misbehaved or is excluded from school. Parenting orders are also available as an ancillary order following a successful prosecution by the LA for irregular attendance or breach of a school attendance order. The order places requirements on the parent to attend a parenting programme. The order will last up to 12 months and any breaches could lead to a fine of £1,000.

Penalty notice – Headteachers wishing to issue, or authorise their staff to issue, penalty notices must first gain the agreement of the governing body. The penalty is a fine and is an alternative to the parent being prosecuted in court. The school behaviour and attendance policies (where applicable) must be revised accordingly. Headteachers and deputy and assistant heads must comply with the local code of conduct issued by their LA when issuing penalty notices and provide to the LA a copy of any notice issued.

Performance Tables – The DfE publishes tables that provide a reliable and easily accessible source of comparative information. The tables report achievements for primary school pupils at the end of Key Stage 2. The secondary (Key Stage 4) tables report the GCSE (and equivalent) achievements of pupils at the end of Key Stage 4.  The post-16 tables report A/AS level (and equivalent) achievements at Level 3 for schools and colleges.

Peripatetic teacher – One who gives specialist instruction in a number of schools, for example, in music.

Personal Education Plan (PEP) – A record of what needs to happen so that looked-after children can fulfil their potential, reflecting any existing educational plans. The PEP should reflect the importance of a personalised approach to learning which secures good basic skills, stretches aspirations and builds life chances.

Protection of Children Act List – A list maintained by the Department for Children, Schools and Families of those people who are barred from working with children across the children’s workforce.

Published Admission Number (PAN) – The fixed number of children which a school must admit if sufficient applications are received, as published by the admission authority for the school. The PAN may be less than the indicated admission number, but the admission authority would need to publish a notice to enable parents to object to the Schools Adjudicator.

Pupil referral unit (PRU) – An establishment maintained by an LA which is specially organised to provide education for children who are excluded, sick or otherwise able to attend mainstream school, and is not a community or special school.

Pupil reports – it is a requirement for headteachers of maintained schools to provide an annual written report on pupils’ educational achievements for every registered pupil at their school.

Pupils on roll – Pupils registered at a school.


Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA– Maintains and develops the national curriculum and associated assessments, tests and examinations.

Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) – The professional status required to teach in state-maintained schools in England and Wales. QTS is normally awarded after successful completion of an Initial Teacher Training course.


School curriculum – All learning and other experiences that schools provide for pupils. For maintained schools this must include the national curriculum, religious education, collective worship, sex and relationship education and careers education.

Scheme for Financing Schools – A document which must be prepared and maintained by each LA under Section 48(1) SSFA, dealing with those matters connected with the financing of schools maintained by the LA which are set out in Schedule 5 to the School Finance (England) Regulations 2008.

Schools Forum – A body which must be established by each LA under Section 47A(1) SSFA, which represents the governing bodies and headteachers of schools maintained by the LA as well as the interests of other persons, whose purpose is to advise the LA on matters relating to the schools budget and carry out certain functions. The Schools Forums (England) Regulations 2002 prescribe various matters relating to the establishment and functions of schools forums and require LAs to consult the Schools Forum on certain matters relating to the schools budget. Note that schools members (i.e. representatives from schools and governing bodies) on the Schools Forum are elected by their peers.

School Improvement Partner (SIP) – Someone who acted as a conduit between central government, the LA and the school, helping to set targets and priorities and identify support needed. The duty of the LA to appoint a SIP has ended, though GBs still have a statutory need to have an “external adviser” to help them with their Headteacher Performance Management.

School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) – A body appointed by the prime minister to examine and report on such matters relating to the statutory conditions of employment of school teachers, including teachers’ pay.

Self Evaluation Form (SEF) – This was a non-statutory document, containing judgements about the school. The official SEF document was withdrawn in July 2011, though Ofsted still expect schools to carry out self evaluation, so the document used for this is still sometimes referred to as the SEF.

Senior Designated Person – A senior member of the school’s management team who is designated to take lead responsibility for dealing with child protection issues, providing advice and support to staff and liaising with LA and other agencies involved in safeguarding children.

Significant improvement – A school requiring significant improvement is one that, although it does not require special measures, is performing significantly less well than it might be expected to perform. It receives a monitoring visit after six to eight months and a full re-inspection after a year. It is expected to have improved significantly by then but if it hasn’t the school may be placed in special measures.

Special educational needs (SEN) – Learning difficulties for which a child needs special educational help.

Special measures – A school that requires special measures is one that is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and whose leadership, management or governance does not demonstrate the capacity to secure the necessary improvement. Schools will receive termly monitoring visits commencing about five to six months after the date of inspection.

Sponsor governor – A person appointed by the governing body. They must be nominated by the person or group named in the GB’s instrument of government, who gives, or has given, substantial financial assistance (including assistance in kind) to the school. (This category of governors is only for governing bodies constituted under the 2007 regulations.)

Staff governors – The headteacher and/or people working at the school who are elected as a governor by people who are paid to work at the school.

Suspension – A process where a member of staff is told to stop working at the school temporarily, usually while a problem involving him or her is being investigated.


Trust – A charitable organisation that supports one or more schools by holding land on trust and appointing governors. It must be an incorporated organisation, either a charitable company or a body incorporated by Royal Charter.

Trustee – Usually a named individual (although can be a corporate body) responsible for the day-to-day management of the Trust, which is likely to include identifying and appointing governors for the school(s) that the Trust supports.

Trust members – Individuals or organisations who take decisions about the organisation of the Trust, including how trustees are elected or appointed. They also hold the trustees to account, for example at a general meeting.


Unauthorised absence – This occurs when the school has not given permission for the absence of a pupil. Where the reason for it cannot be established at registration, the absence shall be recorded as unauthorised. Any subsequent correction to the register recording absence as authorized shall be made in such a manner that the original entry and the correction are both clearly distinguishable.


Warning notice– A notice by which an LA may notify the governing body of any of its concerns relating to school performance, a breakdown in leadership and management, or pupil or staff safety. This is sometimes referred to as a “formal warning”.