Glossary of Educational Terms

Many UK and International educational terms are unfamiliar to some schools and booksellers. To try and help you navigate our website and our catalogues we have listed some of the most common terms below.

Year Groups, Grades and Ages
We have also prepared a list of our the different grade systems of the UK, USA, Australia, and New Zealand so that you can easily see how our books fit the system used in your school. Download the PDF by clicking here.

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Academies are independent, publicly-funded schools. Academies receive their funding directly from the Department for Education, rather than the local council or educational authority. Academies must follow the same rules on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions as other state schools, but they do not have to follow the national curriculum. Each academy or academy chain is run by a trust which employs the staff.

A Level
Short for General Certificate of Education Advanced Level, A Levels are studied between the ages of 16-18. From 2015 onwards, A Levels were reformed. AS Level (Advanced Subsidiary), is now a separate qualification, and A Levels are taught linearly rather than modularly. Coursework was also phased out except where strictly necessary. All exams for A Level are sat at the end of Year 13. The curriculum is set by the government but the exams and specifications (syllabuses) are set by individual exam boards.

AQA (the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance) is a UK exam board offering a range of qualifications including GCSE and A Level.

Attainment 8
Used in secondary schools, Attainment 8 records a pupil's achievement across eight qualifications, including Maths and English.



Cambridge Assessment International Education
Cambridge Assessment International Education is an international exam board offering a range of qualifications including Cambridge Primary, Cambridge Lower Secondary and Cambridge IGCSE.

Comprehensive schools
Comprehensive schools are secondary level state-funded schools, that do not select their students on the basis of achievement or their academic aptitude. They should accept any applicable students from within a geographical area. They differ from grammar schools, which selects pupils on the basis of their grade at the 11+ exam. Today, most comprehensives are also academies.



Edexcel is a UK exam board offering a range of qualifications including GCSE.

Edexcel International
Edexcel International offers a range of syllabuses for the Edexcel IGCSE.


A guide developed for Key Stage 2 and 3 outlining how and when subjects should be taught.

Free schools
A free school is a variety of academy; a state-funded, free-to-attend, independent school which is not controlled by a local educational authority. A free school is understood to be "free" from local authority control, rather than describing free for students to attend. Like other academies, free schools may have sponsors, but the sponsor may not control more than 1/5 of a free school's board of trustees. Free schools are allowed to employ teachers who have not gained Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).


Short for General Certificate of Secondary Education, GCSEs are studied between the ages of 14-16 years and are assessed by formal exams. GCSEs cover a wide range of subjects and each student chooses several subjects to study. Most are expected to take English, Mathematics, and Science. Coursework may count for part of the final mark depending on the subject and syllabus. The curriculum is set by the government but exams and specifications (syllabuses) are sent by individual exam boards.

Gifted and Talented
Gifted and Talented is a phrase used to describe high ability children. The gifted are those with high ability in one or more academic subject, and the talented are those with high ability in sport, music, visual arts and/or performing arts.

Grammar schools
Grammar schools are schools that select their students on the basis of their academic aptitude. Historically, grammar schools were the selective level of the Tripartite System of secondary education in the UK from the 1940s to the 1960s. With the introduction of comprehensive schools in the 1970s, many grammar schools converted to comprehensives or became independent, fee-paying schools. Some areas of England, such as Kent and Lincolnshire, retain most elements of the Tripartite System, and select students for grammar schools on the basis of their results at the 11+ exam.

Guided Reading
Guided Reading bridges the gap between Shared and Independent Reading. Children are grouped by ability, with up to six children in a group. A book is chosen at 'instructional level' so that children will only have difficulty with one word in ten. The teacher leads the session, reinforcing various reading strategies and focusing on individual children as they read.



The IB (International Baccalaureate) offers three programmes used in many schools all over the world: PYP (Primary Years Programme), MYP (Middle Years Programme), IB Diploma Programme.
See our full range of resources for the three programmes from the IB.

IB Diploma Programme
The IB Diploma Programme is offered by the International Baccalaureate (IB) for students aged 16-19 years. It is a demanding two-year curriculum that leads to a qualification recognized by universities around the world.
See our full range of resources for the IB Diploma Programme.

IGCSE is an international qualification for 14-16 year olds offered by Cambridge Assessment International Education and Edexcel International.
See our full range of resources for IGCSE

International Primary Curriculum (IPC)
IPC offers four different programmes to International schools.



Key Stage
The national curriculum in the UK defines the minimum educational requirements for students of compulsory school age (5-16 years). It is organised on the basis of five Key Stages. At the end of each Key Stage, students take assessments to determine the levels they have reached.

  • Foundation (Reception/3-5 year olds) - Infant
  • Key Stage 1 (Years 1-2/5-7 year olds) - Nursery
  • Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6/7-11 year olds) - Primary
  • Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9/11-14 year olds) - Lower Secondary
  • Key Stage 4/GCSE (Years 10-11) - Upper Secondary
    After GCSEs students can opt to enter Key Stage 5 and take A Levels (Years 12-13/16-18 years old).


    Literacy Hour, The
    The Literacy Hour is a way of allocating time to teaching the different strands of literacy each day. It consists of four parts: whole class text level teaching (15 mins), whole class word/sentence level work (15 mins), Guided Reading/Writing for one group with the teacher and independent work for the rest of the class (20 mins), whole class plenary (10 mins).


    Multi-academy trust (MAT)
    A multi-academy trust (MAT) is a a group of academies run jointly by one board of directors, working together as one entity to pool resources and improve standards across the trust. A multi-academy trust is usually headed by a CEO, who differs from a traditional headteacher, and may not be a qualified teacher themselves.

    MYP - Middle Years Programme
    The Middle Years Programme (MYP) is offered by the International Baccalaureate (IB) for students aged 11-16 years and provides a framework of academic challenge and life skills through embracing and transcending traditional school subjects.


    National Curriculum, The
    The national curriculum is set by the government in the UK and is a program of study outlining what must be taught at each level and giving attainment targets. Not all schools have to follow the national curriculum (such as academies and private schools).

    National Literacy/Numeracy Strategy (NLS/NNS), The
    The NLS and NNS were approaches to teaching the reading, writing and mathematics elements of the national curriculum. They defined the objective of the English and Maths curriculum at Reception to Year 6 (3-11 year olds). The National Strategies were abolished in 2011.


    O Level
    The General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level is an international qualification for 14-16 year olds offered by Cambridge Assessment International Education.

    OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations) is a UK exam board offering a range of qualifications including GCSE and A Level.


    PYP - Primary Years Programme
    The Primary Years Programme (PYP) is offered by the International Baccalaureate (IB) for students aged 6-12 years and focuses on the development of the whole child in the classroom and in the world outside.
    See our full range of resources for the Primary Years Programme.

    Private schools
    Private schools (also known as independent schools and in some cases public schools) are schools that charge fees in order to attend. They do not get funding from the government, and do not have to follow the national curriculum. About half of private schools are inspected by Ofsted, while the other half are inspected by either the Independent Schools Inspectorate or the School Inspection Service. Some older and more expensive private schools are known as "public schools" although they are not part of the public sector; these schools were considered historically public because they were open for anyone to attend, provided they could pay the fees.

    Progress 8
    Progress 8 is a measurement scale used to determine the progress a pupil makes from the end of primary school to the end of Key Stage 4. It was introduced in 2016 as a new measure for determining overall school performance. Under Progress 8, pupils' results are compared to the progress of other pupils nationally with similar levels of attainment (using Attainment 8). Students are then judged relative to their attainment and how much progress they have made since the end of primary school. The average scores of a cohort makes up a school's Progress 8 score.




    SATs (officially known as National Curriculum assessments) are the national curriculum tests that are taken at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2. They are designed to help teachers measure students' progress, how much of the curriculum they understand and what they might achieve in the future. SATs attainment levels were abolished in 2016 and replaced with a new judgement framework.

    SEN (Special Educational Needs)
    Children with special educational needs all have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn or access education than most children of the same age. These children may need extra or different help from that given to other children of the same age.

    Shared Reading
    Shared reading is a whole class activity where the teacher demonstrates reading strategies using a shared text. Texts should be large enough for all children to see. Big Books are perfect for this. Shared reading sessions are very interactive.


    The Simple View of Reading
    The simple view of reading is part of the renewed UK framework for primary literacy and places increasing importance on the role of speaking and listening in developing children's early reading skills. It focuses on two core areas: word recognition (phonics and high frequency words) and language comprehension and reinforces the importance of embedding reading within a broad and rich curriculum.
    See how Oxford Reading Tree can help you implement the simple view of reading.




    Whiteboard, Interactive
    An interactive whiteboard is a teaching tool that enables anything you can do or see on a computer screen to be projected onto a whiteboard for all the class to see. It is made up of a computer, a digital projector, and a whiteboard which acts as a touch-sensitive screen.

    WJEC (Welsh Joint Education Committee) is a UK exam board offering a range of qualifications including GCSE.