A set of ideas and beliefs which is often held by social groups who share particular interests. Seen therefore as a source on bias and irrationality. In respect of primary education, the late 1980s and early 1990s saw a constant stream of accusations of ideological bias by government ministers of teachers and by teachers of government ministers.

Social status

The ascribed esteem in which an individual or social position is held. This can be important to children in their peer group and it is important to teachers in society more generally. Unfortunately their social status has been somewhat undermined by criticisms in recent years.


The process by which individuals are inducted into the taken-for-granted rules, values and cultural understandings of a group or social organisation. This is particularly relevant to teachers and pupils entering schools and taking on new roles. However, such individuals should not be seen as being entirely passive.


The cluster of subjective opinions and meanings with which an individual or group make sense of an experience, of something or of somebody. This is important for all those involved in a school, and, in particular for the partnership of parents, pupils and teachers. If perspectives on partnership are widely different, then it will not work.

Social differentiation

A generic term for the process, in education, by which teachers identify and separate groups of pupils for particular purposes. For instance, to study particular subjects or for matching ability levels.


A generic term for the process in education by which children, operating through peer culture, tend to reinforce social differentiation and amplify its consequences through their friendships and social relationships.

Teacher expectations

The beliefs which a teacher holds about the possible performance of his or her pupils. Pupil attainment is thought to be influenced by these.

Coping strategies

The patterned ways in which teachers and pupils act in classrooms and schools to protect their personal interests and perspectives.

Social class

A concept used to denote the types and range of social, cultural and economic resource and the distribution of political power amongst social groups in societies. This is of relevance to education in the UK in the 1990s because inequalities have been growing and educational underachievement is adversely affecting working class children, particularly in inner cities.