Jargon Busting

What does it all mean?

Sometimes (indeed very often) we come across terminology in Education circles that create mystery and confusion for many of us. Based on some head scratching and confused expressions within the Parent Council, we thought it could be a good idea to create a page where we will add phrases, titles, acronyms that need a little demystifying. Things that we come across – and the wider parent / carer forum too.

If you have something to query, either add it to the page in the Parent Council Parent Folder in the school entrance area, or add to the comments here. Every month we will check for anything new and update here, as best we can.

Lots of acronyms are also explained through SPTC membership:


SIP. School Improvement Plan – Each year we produce an Improvement Plan. The plan is the result of an analysis of the School’s needs, strengths and weaknesses as identified by our own monitoring, assessment and evaluation systems, as well as inspections and the Local Authority.

It is a focus for the school to develop practice in each session to improve areas where reflection and evaluation have highlighted areas for updating or changing practice. 

A school improvement plan is a road map that sets out the changes a school needs to make to improve the level of student achievement, and shows how and when these changes will be made. … As the plan is implemented, schools continue to gather this kind of data. 

Excerpt from a Canadian document which seems to explain it well – used for explanation above:

A school improvement plan is a road map that sets out the changes a school needs to make to improve the level of student achievement, and shows how and when these changes will be made. School improvement plans are selective: they help principals, teachers, and school councils answer the questions “What will we focus on now?” and “What will we leave until later?” They encourage staff and parents to monitor student achievement levels and other factors, such as the school environment, that are known to influence student success. With up-to-date and reliable information about how well students are performing, schools are better able to respond to the needs of students, teachers, and parents.

Soft Start.  Used in Nursery. The period of time allotted for arriving in nursery, prior to planned / key activities. (This is signified by the outer door being shut).

Floorbooks. These are large books made by / with the children that are opened up on floor, ground or big tables – usually big enough for several children to look at together. The children add their ideas, chat about what they see or engage with what others share around different topics they have been exploring. It is a lovely resource for reflecting on what they have seen or done, usually with photos.

Adults (including parents) can also consider what the children are most excited about and interested in. The books can be enjoyed by kids whenever they want to look at them again too – as well as build up visual records of what has been happening in their class / setting – they provide the words for the adults to write in around the photos / pictures. (Older children may write their own). Many settings for childcare and education / home learning create wonderful floorbooks and some training can be given through educating resources like Mindstretchers

Growth Mindset. This is the term coined by researcher Carol Dwyck when considering attitude and beliefs around capability and confidence with respect to being successful in life.

Reflective Reading – A methodology created by ‘The Learning Zoo’ to work within Curriculum for Excellence and develop skill set of pupils from P1 to P7 –

  • improve literacy standards, reading attainment and motivation in reading for all
  • put the magic back into reading through fun, engaging ideas and activities for the teaching of reading
  • create life-long readers with good reading habits, who enjoy and appreciate text in all its forms

Phonics – This is a method of teaching children to read and write and commonly used in our schools. A simple explanation can be found here and link to information on Jolly Phonics can be found here on the blog.

GIRFECGetting It Right For Every Child. The Scottish Government drive to ensure Scotland Is The Best Place To Grow Up. For more information, visit the Wellbeing section of the Scottish Government website (link is external). (Also more info at bottom of page).

Named Person – This refers to the designated person (Health Visitor for pre 5 yrs and Promoted Teacher (eg Headteacher, Guidance Teacher) for 5-18 year old, still in school, who will be the ‘clear point of contact if a child, young person or their parents want information or advice, or if they want to talk about any worries and seek support.

More info can be found here. In PPS, children aged 5 and above will have Head Teacher as their Named Person.

Curriculum for Excellence – The Curriculum taught in Scottish (State) schools.

SHANARRI – Anacronym for the 8 Wellbeing Indicators. All of these wellbeing indicators are necessary for a child or young person to reach their potential. They are used to record observations, events and concerns and as an aid to creating an individual plan for a child. (See further down page for more info).

Risk Benefit Approach. Find post here explaining the Risk Balance scales and approach towards adventurous play and supporting children to develop lifeskills. 

SIMD – Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. The tool used by the Scottish Government to identify areas of multiple deprivation. The areas assessed are 

  • Employment
  • Income
  • Health
  • Education, Skills, and Training
  • Geographic Access to Services
  • Crime
  • Housing

EDI – Early Development Instrument. This is an assessment tool used in East Lothian to help tackle inequality.

My World – This is a tool used by practitioners to consider all the different needs and factors which impact on a child or young person’s life. A triangle is created around “How I Grow and Develop ~ What I Need from People who Look After Me ~ My Wider World.” For more information on using this in assessing need and actions required see here. Parents can find this very useful to remember what each child needs from their family, friends, school, community and society.

My World


The My World triangle is a pictorial representation of an assessment tool used with individual children to determine which of their needs are being met, and where support is needed. (See more information at bottom of page).

SNSAScottish National Standardised Assessments. Literacy and Numeracy testing on one particular assessment in P1, P4, P7 and S3.

1140 Hours – The Scottish Government has pledged to increase the provision of free early learning and childcare provision to 1140 hours per year by 2020, for children who are 3 or 4 years old, as well for 2 year olds whose parents/carers are on qualifying benefits and are eligible for the 600 hours free entitlement through the Children & Young People’s Act 2014. 

East Lothian Council is currently exploring how this entitlement can be met in practical terms. Provision in settings currently available, staffing and contracts currently available, CPD provision and use of childcare options in partnership with registered Childminders. The Early Years and Childcare team, Head Teachers and other relevant parties form the working group tackling the challenges in meeting this goal.

What is an NQT? – A newly qualified teacher. The first year after qualifying in teaching (also often referred to as Probationary Year) is guaranteed and required to be in a teaching setting building practical experience and closely monitored to ensure required standards are met. State schools employ a number of NQTs according to the terms set out by their Local Authority and this requires a mentor for each NQT who carries out 90% of a standard teaching post. Induction is carried out over the academic year, which must be equivalent to 3 full teaching terms. More information can be read here.

What is a PGDE? – A graduate may be eligible to train in teaching through a 1 year intense course. (Conditions apply). The Qualification in Scotland is now known as a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education but was formerly known as PGCE (and still known as this in England, Ireland and Wales).

“This Professional Graduate Diploma in Education is for graduates wishing to enter the teaching profession in Scotland at primary level. The one-year programme is the Scottish route to qualified teacher status (QTS). We aim to produce successful, reflective teachers, sensitive to the demands of pupils, responsive to changes within the education system and committed to their own continuing professional development. The 36-week primary programme is an intensive programme of study, half of which is spent in placement schools, with the other half spent studying on campus. Learning follows the chronological sequence of pupil development – the focus is initially on early years, moving to the middle primary and then upper primary years.”

All about words….

What does CVC mean?

You may have heard this if your child is an early reader, learning letters and their sounds.

It actually stands for Consonant, Vowel, Consonant; the early introduction into reading through a phonics approach which is commonly used in teaching English.

You can read a bit more here.


Continuing on with the Reading theme – AR is a term many children and families may hear, from as early as P2.

What is A.R? – Accelerated Reader – a programme used in PPS to develop ability and enjoyment of reading.

A cloud-based assessment, teaching and learning programme developed by a company named Renaissance used to encourage reading, monitor progress, measure challenge and consider all ethniticities.  Their mission is described as, “Our primary purpose is to accelerate learning for all children and adults of all ability levels and ethnic and social backgrounds, worldwide.”

Children are given a sign-in. They can choose books according to ability and interests by checking the AR database, to read independently and for pleasure. When they finish each book the pupil completes an on-line quiz which measures their understanding of the book. They can also choose books from outwith school, and find out if it is included in the database, then do the quiz if they wish. Points are awarded.

A good parental guide can be found here. Most of this applies to PPS also.

And more Reading related jargon busting.

What is Decoding? – No, we’re not off to join the Intelligence Corps….

Decoding is the ability to apply your knowledge of letter-sound relationships, including knowledge of letter patterns, to correctly pronounce written words. Understanding these relationships gives children the ability to recognise familiar words quickly and to figure out words they haven’t seen before. Although children may sometimes figure out some of these relationships on their own, most children benefit from clear instruction in this area.

If you would like to read more, try this guide on Reading Rockets.

School Inspections: HMI or Education Scotland?

A question re HMIE/HMI* came in – the former body carrying out school inspections (HMIE). The HMIE and Care Commission bodies have been replaced by the Care Inspectorate and Educating Scotland. Information re this change and how it is progressing can be found here. “We’re well aware that inspection can be viewed as quite a stressful experience as school staff worry about making sure that inspectors get to see all the work they have been doing. Some feel that their work is going to be judged and they “don’t want to be the one to let the school down”. We want to get away from that perception. Inspections are about working together to support improvement through professional dialogue between staff and inspectors. The experience should be helpful, understanding and professional leaving you in a better place to take the school or other establishment forward. That is what we are striving to achieve.”

Succinct explanation can be found here – HMIE to Education Scotland.

Until very recently, *Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) was the executive agency with responsibility for evaluating the quality of pre-school, school and teacher education, plus community learning and development, further education and local authorities. Due to a decision by the Scottish Government, Education Scotland, a new agency, inherited the full range of functions formerly undertaken by HMIE.

The new shorter inspection model has been piloted and is being rolled out in primary schools. Changes to Inspection model for schools.

For More information on how GIRFEC, SHANARRI and MY WORLD, link together, read the following.


Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) is the Scottish Government’s drive to improve outcomes for all children. The aim is that all children in Scotland are given every opportunity to develop to their full potential to become confident, responsible, and productive members of society.

Curriculum for Excellence referrs to this as the Four Capacities which aim to enable every child to become a:

  • successful learner
  • confident individual
  • responsible citizen
  • effective contributor

In order to meet these goals, an agreed definition of wellbeing has been created. It is summarised in the Wellbeing Wheel.



The acronym SHANARRI is formed from the eight indicators of wellbeing:

  • Safe
  • Healthy
  • Achieving
  • Nurtured
  • Active
  • Respected
  • Responsible
  • Included

All of these wellbeing indicators are necessary for a child or young person to reach their potential. They are used to record observations, events and concerns and as an aid to creating an individual plan for a child.

My World – tool which forms part of the National Practice Model

National Practice Model is a detailed process which links observation and information gathering, to analysis of this information, creating an individual plan of action – and reviewing this appropriately.

The National practice model also takes into account something called the Resilience Matrix.