Equality of opportunity

The principle that all people, irrespective for instance of ethnicity, gender, disability or social class, should have equal access to opportunities - including educational opportunities. Equality of opportunity is an ideal and a commitment, but it has been undermined by the spread of poverty and by some education policies in England and Wales in recent years.


The principle that all citizens have a right to certain forms of provision, for instance, of parents and pupils to good schools and high quality teaching, and of teachers to adequate resources and sound education policies.

Fulfilment of potential

The aspiration that all individuals will be able to fulfil themselves and develop in all the ways which they can during their lives. This aspiration is compromised if opportunities are unequal or if entitlements are not protected.


The extent to which potential is unfulfilled, and a major problem in the UK . However, it is a complex problem and, among other things, requires attention to structural issues concerning the culture, values and socio-economic conditions in some communities and to the resources available to some schools.

Low expectations

An explanation for under-achievement which is often offered by governments and which primarily locates the problem with teachers and parents, but less with governments.

Vocational development

Educational provision which is specifically designed to support pupils in future work and employment.

Social development

Educational provision which is specifically designed to support the social adjustment and self-confidence of pupils.

Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Particular physical, emotional or intellectual needs which a child has been assessed as having. Children for whom a 'statement' of needs has been issued are entitled to have their needs met by their LEA subject to the 'efficient use of resources'.


The concerns and priorities which individuals or groups may have in defence or promotion of a structural position which they occupy in society. This may be a useful concept in analysing contributions to educational controversies and debates.