Teaching job jargon buster

10 May 2023, 10:57

The education sector makes plentiful use of acronyms, so we've put together a handy guide to commonly used teaching jargon to help you plan for career success.

What common teaching terms mean

Common entrance

Exam set by the Independent Schools Examination Board and marked by individual schools that assesses students’ ability to join an independent senior school. Can be sat at age 11 or 13.

Contact time

The time teachers spend teaching students.


Continuing professional development. This is teachers' ongoing training provision.


Disclosure and Barring Service. Overseen by the Home Office, this organisation is responsible for carrying out criminal records checks.


The Department for Education that oversees children's services and education in England. It sets the curriculum and, via Ofsted, is responsible for inspections.


English as an additional/foreign/second language. (See also TEFL/TESL/TESOL.)


Early Years Foundation Stage. This sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to five in England.


Emotional and behavioural difficulties.


Early career teacher. The new name for a newly qualified teacher (NQT), it is the job title of teachers who are undergoing their two-year induction.


Education Workforce Council, the organisation responsible for regulating teachers in Wales.

Foundation Phase

This is the curriculum for children aged three to seven in Wales.


General Teaching Council for Scotland. All teachers in state and independent schools in Scotland must be registered with the GTCS.


Graduate Teacher Programme. This employment-based route into teaching is now available only in Wales. The School Direct training programme offers school-based teacher training in England and includes a salaried route for those with at least three years' experience.


Higher level teaching assistant.


Independent Association of Preparatory Schools.


Compulsory on-the-job training period for all NQTs, usually lasting for one year full time.


Independent Schools Council. Membership organisation for associations representing independent schools.


Initial teacher education and training. This involves completing a recognised teaching qualification. This term is used more or less interchangeably with ITT.


Initial teacher training. Involves completion of a recognised teaching qualification.


Key stage. Each key stage covers a defined range of years in education. The national curriculum sets out what children should learn at each key stage.


Local authority. These local government organisations oversee education in their area.


Learning support assistant. Person who provides classroom-based support.


National Association for Primary Education. This connects everyone who has a concern for the learning of children from birth to 13 years.

National curriculum

The national curriculum for England sets the framework for what subjects schools have to teach and what pupils should learn within those subjects at different stages.


Newly qualified teacher. The old term for an early career teacher or ECT (see above).


Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills. Responsible for inspecting and regulating education in schools in England. It also inspects providers of care for children and young people and of learning and skills for people of all ages.


Overseas-trained teacher.


Postgraduate or professional graduate certificate in education. Postgraduate teacher training course available at universities and colleges and including at least 24 weeks on placement in schools. Full-time courses usually last for one academic year but part-time and flexible options are available.


Professional graduate diploma in education. Popular one-year postgraduate teacher training course in Scotland, similar to PGCE.


Planning, preparation and assessment. Time is allocated on the timetable for teachers to devote to this.


Pupil referral unit. LA-maintained unit for students who have been excluded from other schools.


Pupil–teacher ratio.


Qualified teacher status. The accreditation given to teachers who have demonstrated that they have met the required professional standards. You need to complete a period of ITT in order to meet the standards for QTS.


School-centred initial teacher training. School-based on-the-job teacher training programme for graduates, who are employed by a consortium of schools/education providers. Many SCITT courses lead to a PGCE qualification validated by a higher education institution.


Special educational needs. Learning difficulties for which a pupil needs special educational help.


School Experience Programme. This offers up to ten days' experience in a secondary school.


Special educational needs co-ordinator. Teacher responsible for co-ordinating provision for pupils with special educational needs within a school.


Senior management team. Includes the head teacher, deputy head and other senior teachers.


Teaching assistant.


Teaching English as a foreign/second language.


Teaching English to speakers of other languages.


Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme. Awards academic credit to science, engineering, technology and maths undergraduates working with teachers in local schools.

UCAS Teacher Training

Admissions system for most teacher training courses in the UK. UCAS is the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

This article was last updated December 2022.

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