When I was a Headteacher, I sat in one Governors meeting and started reading through my report to them about how the last term had gone. I had spent hours on the report, it contained every bit of information they needed and I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Yet…there was silence as I read it out and then silence when I asked for questions. Eventually one of the parent governors said ‘I’m really sorry but I don’t undertstand half of what you said. It’s like schools talk in a different language.’ That was a real eye opening moment for me, and since being a parent and talking to other parents on the playground, it has become obvious that most parents, and especially those whose children are only just beginning school, have no idea what on earth schools are talking about. So, here is my guide to the main acronyms schools use and what they mean in plain English!
INSET days: This stands for In Service Training Days. State schools are expected to use 5 days a year as training days for the teachers. It is up to the Headteacher as to when these will be, and often schools will set these dates at the beginning of the school year in order to give parents as much notice as possible. More often than not, they tie these days into a holiday to try to make it the least disruptive, but the days are not set in stone and can change throughout the year. Headteachers are very aware that these days can cause difficulties with childcare for some parents, but INSET days are non negotiable within schools and Headteachers must set them.
PPG: This is a relatively new term and stands for Pupil Premium Grant. The Government has set aside a portion of money that they give to schools for disadvantaged children. This may be children whose parents are, or who have been over the last 6 years, in receipt of benefits but also encompasses those children in care or who have been adopted. This amount of money is given to the school per child and tends to change each year, and schools must set out what they are using the money for and the impact it has had at the end of the year in raising the attainment of this group of children. Parents do not have any right to demand how it is spent (aside from in the case of adopted children or children in care where parents or carers should have a meeting with the school to discuss the needs of their child) but you can see what the school is doing with the money on the school’s websites.
SEN: This stands for Special Educational Needs. This is an acroynm that is used for children who have learning or behaviour difficulties, who need extra support in order to keep up with their classmates or alternatively who are ahead of their classmates in any specific area of learning.
EAL: This stands for English as an Additional Language. This is used for any child who’s home language is not English.
SENCo: This stands for Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator. This is an important role title in the school and it is the SENCo’s job to co-ordinator all Special Educational Needs throughout the school. You might want to talk to them if you feel your child has a learning difficulty, is struggling to concentrate in class, has any behaviour issues or you are just concerned that they are not keeping up. On the flip side, you might also want to talk to them if you feel that your child is significantly above the level of the other children in the class in a particular area as their job role is to look at all educational needs at all levels.
INCo: This role is similar to the SENCo and stands for Inclusion Co-ordinator. The term INCo is rarely used although it is becoming more popular in certain schools.
There are obviously lots of other words and acronyms that schools use that can confuse anyone who doesn’t work in a school, but the above are the main ones. If you come across any others that you are unsure about, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to write another blog post explaining them!
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