Understanding Terms Used By Schools

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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 understand 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 terms used by schools and what they mean in plain English!

It can sometimes feel as though schools are talking a foreign language.  The terms they use and the way they speak in acronyms can  make it hard to understand them.  Here is a break down of some of the terms used by schools the most often.

INSET days

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

Pupil Premium Grant 

The Government has set aside a portion of money that they give to schools for 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

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

English as an Additional Language 

This is used for any child who’s home language is not English. The slightly odd thing about this classification is that, even if the child was born in the UK but their family have a first language which is not English, then they will be classed as EAL.

SENCo

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator 

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.


EHCP

Education Health Care Plan

An Education Health Care plan is put in place for children who need more support than is available through special educational needs support.  As a parent you can request an EHCP through the school if you feel that your child needs one, and the SENCo will advise and help you through it. If you’d like to read more about the EHCP, the is a good document on the Government’s website.



There are obviously lots of other words and acronyms used by schools that can confuse anyone who doesn’t work in a school, but the above are the main ones. Are there any other terms used by schools which confuse you? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll explain them for you!

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