Classroom Practice

Ability grouping

There are four principal ways by which pupils can be grouped according to perceived ability:

banding, used in larger schools, refers to pupils being grouped on the basis of apparent overall ability - each 'band' consists of two or more groups which follow a similar timetable

streaming, as with banding, refers to pupils being grouped on the basis of apparent overall ability;

setting, refers to a group of consisting of pupils selected on the basis of ability in a particular subject;

mixed ability, refers to a group that is made up of pupils representing a wide range of apparent abilities.

ACS

Average Class Size.

ALNs

Asynchronous Learning Networks.

AO

Assessment Objective.

Authentic task

A school assignment that has a 'real-world' application. Such assignments bear a strong resemblance to tasks performed in non-school settings such as the home or the workplace. They usually require students to apply a broad range of knowledge and skills.

AVA

Audio Visual Aids

Banding

A method used by some schools for allocating pupils to teaching groups by perceived ability.  See ability grouping.

Basic skills

Often defined as the ability to read, write and speak in English and use mathematics at a level necessary to function and progress at work and society in general. This is a contentious issue in that some might argue that, for example, drawing is a basic skill; there is also the notion that acquisition of 'basic skills' should be related to the nature of one's work.

B&A

Behaviour and attendance.

BCA

Black Children's Achievement.

BME

Black and Minority Ethnic.

BN

Basic Need.

BSP

Behaviour Support Plans.

CAA

Computer Assisted Assessment.

CAF

Common Assessment Framework.

CAL

Computer-Aided [or Assisted] Learning.

CAD

Computer Aided Design.

CAI

Computer Aided Instruction.

CDC

Curriculum Development Centre.

CEG

Careers Education and Guidance.

Curriculum (plural curricula)

A plan of instruction that details what pupils are to know, how they are to learn it, what the teacher's role is, and the context in which learning and teaching will take place. See National Curriculum. Concepts associated with curricula include:

Breadth

Breadth exists when a curriculum provides pupils with teaching and learning experiences across a full range of subjects and activities.  It is not narrow, such as focused on basic, or core, subjects only.

Balance

Balance exists when a curriculum provides pupils with appropriate proportions of teaching and learning across a full range of subjects and activities.

Relevance

Relevance exists when a curriculum is seen by pupils to meet their present and/or future needs.

Coherence

Coherence exists when the taught elements of a curriculum relate together in a logical and meaningful way.

Integration

Integration exists when a curriculum is constructed from the exploration of overlaps and juxtaposition of discrete subjects.

Differentiation

Differentiation is the provision of a range of curricular tasks or activities which are matched appropriately with the previous attainments of pupils.

Progression

Progression is a quality of a curriculum which extends children’s knowledge, skills or understanding through an ordered sequential process.

Continuity

Continuity is the linkage which should exist when new subject matter or experiences are introduced into a programme of teaching and learning.  Continuity helps pupils to ‘make sense’ and build their understanding.

Knowledge

Knowledge, in curricular terms, is a selection of factual information which it is deemed to be appropriate for children to learn.  In the National Curriculum this is reflected in its ‘subjects’.

Concepts

Generalisations used to categorise things and events in order to think about them more effectively.

Skills

Skills are capacities to perform tasks, such as the ‘motor skill’ of forming letters correctly when handwriting, the ‘oral skill’ of a clear spoken explanation or the ‘analytical skills’ used in assessing historical evidence.

Understanding

Understanding is the sense which children are able to construct following experience or instruction.

Attitudes

Attitudes are overt expressions of values and other personal qualities which tend to be adopted in a variety of situations.  Children’s attitudes to learning, for instance, can be vital.

Concepts associated with curriculum processes include:

Curriculum audit

A type of stock-taking procedure in which a school documents and reflectively analyses its whole curriculum provision.

Curriculum development

A development process, often focused on a particular subject area, on which a staff team work to improve curriculum provision.

Whole school curriculum planning

A holistic planning process involving all teaching staff to ensure breadth, balance, coherence, relevance, differentiation and progression in an area of curriculum.

Planning classroom schemes of work

The production of a detailed classroom plan for curricular work by a teacher for a particular unit of time.

Concepts associated with forms of curriculum include:

The whole curriculum

A conception of the overall curriculum with particular concern for its coherence and for the inter-relationship of subjects.

Subject study

Classroom work which focuses on discrete subject content, perhaps to maximise progression in teaching and learning.

Project work

Classroom work which reaches across subjects in an attempt to maximise the relevance and coherence of teaching and learning activities.

Extra-curricular activities

Activities which take place, often run by teachers, outside the time which is officially allocated for classroom work.

The hidden curriculum

A conception of all the things that are learned at school beyond the overt curriculum of subjects, for instance about values, interpersonal relationships and behaviour in the classroom and in the school as a whole and in respect of issues such as gender, social class, ethnicity and ability.

Curriculum content

That which is to be taught; the source of much debate.  In addition to the traditional ‘subjects’ that often make up school curricula, the following are additional areas that have been hotly debated:

Basic skills

A term usually taken to denote the ‘3Rs’ (reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic) of the old elementary school tradition. 

Cross-curricular issues

Issues and concerns which are of great importance and about which teaching and learning may occur in many different subjects.

Personal, social and health education (PSHE)

A cross-curricular issue concerning the holistic development of the child beyond the curriculum and with particular reference to self-perception, interrelationships with others and work on sex education, drug, family life, safety, health-related exercise, nutrition and personal hygiene.

Sex education

Curricular provision, reflecting the school policy set by governors, which introduces children to sex and human relationships and encourages them to consider morals and the value of family life.

Multi-cultural education

An approach to teaching and curriculum provision intended to increase all pupil’s awareness and appreciation of the cultures, beliefs and traditions of the ethnic groups in British society.  Sometimes criticised for failing to address the ‘real’ structural issues of social disadvantage that many minority British ethnic groups face.

Anti-racist education

An approach to teaching and curriculum provision intended to increase all pupils’ awareness and understanding of the socio-economic structures which systematically and institutionally disadvantage many minority British ethnic groups.  It is sometimes criticised for being ‘too radical’.

Education for citizenship

A National Curriculum theme intended to establish the importance of ‘positive, participative citizenship’ through work on topics such as: community, democracy in action, the law, living in a plural society, work and employment.

Environmental education

A National Curriculum theme intended to promote ‘positive and responsible attitudes towards the environment’.  It aims to increase knowledge and understanding of processes of environmental change.