Glossary of terms used on this site

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Term Definition

prefixes which indicate scale: largest medium smallest. Their application depends on context. Thus in terms of education policy national level may be macro local government level meso and school level micro. In terms of a secondary school however whole school issues may be macro departmental/faculty meso individual classroom micro.

magnet school

a school in a locale which tends to attract more parents/pupils than any other(s). The main reason for its drawing power is often hard to identify but is commonly linked to social class. A school which already has a more middle-class roll will tend to attract even more middle class entrants at the expense of other  school(s) which then experience both falling rolls and a skewing of social mix.


descriptive of the Socratic method of revealing another's thinking or knowledge through a logical process of close questioning. The Greek root relates to midwifery so the meaning can be seen in terms of that metaphor - bringing something forth revealing what is hidden.


the process or policy of including children with special or additional educational needs within state schools rather than in special schools.


the term used in England for a school funded by the state


the act or process of managing controlling directing administering. It is also used as a collective noun for those persons employed in such a role in an institution.


the belief that as all organisations are basically similar their performance can be optimised by the application of generic management skills and theory.  Thus professional experience and skills in education would not be seen as necessary for a manager in an educational context. The term is often used pejoratively of any approach which is management-dominated often without due regard to educational theory and values or of a viewpoint which stresses the important of internal management processes and structures in an educational institution at the expense of awareness of wider societal pressures and contextual influences.


placed in a position of low importance with little influence or power. In educational contexts it is often used in relation to disadvantaged or oppressed groups but can also be used of viewpoints ideas or theories which have been sidelined.


the belief in or process of making public sector agencies and provision function like a free market. In education for example this may involve creating 'consumer' choice through having schools compete (for pupils) against each other like private companies the theory being that this improves efficiency and accountability.


evaluating assessing or grading a learner's work. The term is fluid enough to range from merely applying a summative grade to supplying much more detailed feedback. The term is also used as noun for the actual material to be marked.


the political and economic philosophy of Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895). In brief the theory holds that social and political structures are determined by economic conditions that class domination has been the key phenomenon in social history that class struggle creates historical change and that capitalism will be superseded ultimately bycommunism. One aspect of its educational application for example would be the view that schools and the curriculum are not neutral but serve dominant class  interests.

mastery learning

a term with wide application but most commonly used for an approach drawn from the work of Benjamin Bloom (1913-1999) which concentrates on the learner becoming fully competent and skilled before attempting the next level of complexity. The connotations  of the terms 'master' or 'mastery' make its modern usage rare (see Bloom's taxonomy).


in teaching the idea that activities and learning programmes should be suited to pupil needs and abilities. In a research study the attempt to ensure that groups to be compared are alike in key characteristics.


(1) the tendency to view possessions consumption and comfort above spiritual or other values. (2) the belief that nothing exists except matter a rejection of idealism.


the process of development (in education especially of the child to adult).

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