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.


Average Class Size.


Asynchronous Learning Networks.


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.


Audio Visual Aids


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.


Behaviour and attendance.


Black Children's Achievement.


Black and Minority Ethnic.


Basic Need.


Behaviour Support Plans.


Computer Assisted Assessment.


Common Assessment Framework.


Computer-Aided [or Assisted] Learning.


Computer Aided Design.


Computer Aided Instruction.


Curriculum Development Centre.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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, 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’.


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


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


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.

Forms of curriculum

The National Curriculum

The knowledge, skills, concepts and attitudes which it is laid down by statutory orders following the Education Reform Act, 1988, that children in maintained schools should be taught.

National Literacy Strategy (NLS)

The national literacy strategy is a government initiative designed to raise standards in English in primary literacy. Whilst it is non-statutory, most pupils in England experience a daily literacy lesson.

Early Learning Goals (ELGs)

These are part of the foundation stage and are concerned with the specification of objectives for children aged 3-5.

The National Curriculum framework

Statutory orders

A form of legislative requirement of schools, set by the Secretary Staf and requiring the approval of Parliament. It has the same legal force as an Act of Parliament.

Foundation subjects

Technology, history, geography, music, art, physical education and, in Wales, Welsh.

Programmes of study (PoS)

Everything which the National Curriculum requires must be taught to pupils during each Key Stage for them to satisfy the attainment targets for each subject.

Modification and disapplication

Terms used to lift part or all of the National Curriculum requirements for individuals or schools as approved by the Secretary of State for Education.

Attainment targets (ATs)

Objectives for each subject which set out the knowledge, skills and understanding which pupils are expected to develop with that area of the National Curriculum.

Levels (of attainment)

The expected range of attainment at the end of Key Stage 1 is from Levels 1 - 3, at the end of Key Stage 2 from Levels 2 - 5 and at the end of Key Stage 3 from 3 - 7. Level 8 provides for very able pupils at Key Stage 3. These are the stepped sequence of eight levels used in assessment procedures covering children's expected development from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 3 of all National Curriculum subjects with the exception of Art, Music and Physical Education. The latter are covered by End of Key Staf Descriptions only and assessment by level is not required.

Level descriptions (LDs)

Descriptions of the knowledge, skill and understanding which is expected to be characteristic of eight levels of attainment for each National Curriculum attainment target. Used for assessment procedures in which teachers judge the `best fit' of level descriptors with known pupil attainments.

Religious Education

In each LEA, a multi-faith Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) advises on religious education and collective worship and produces an `agreed syllabus' for the use of schools. This must be `in the main Christian' whilst taking account of other principal religions in the UK .

Curriculum 2000

The most recent version of the national curriculum introduced in 2000.