Glossary - a

Definitions of all our inspection terms.

  • Access

    A local authority service dealing with:
    • the provision of an appropriate range and number of school places;
    • admissions to schools;
    • home-school transport; and
    • the management of the condition and suitability of all school buildings.
  • Active learning

    This term relates to pupils being active and involved in their learning rather than as passive recipients of information and knowledge. It emphasises a first-hand experience that motivates, stimulates and supports pupils in the development of skills and concepts, including language acquisition.

  • Active Young People (AYP)

    Dragon Sport, the Physical Education and School Sport (PESS) initiative and the 5x60 initiative operate under the ‘Active Young People’ initiative.

  • Achievement

    Inspectors judge achievement by how well learners are doing in relation to their ability and by the progress they make. (See also attainment.)

  • Additional learning needs (ALN)

    This term covers a very wide range of needs. We use the term ALN in relation to learners who have needs besides those of most of their classmates, for a number of different reasons, including learners who:
    •  have special educational needs (SEN), as defined within the SEN Code of Practice for Wales (2002);
    •  are disabled, as defined within the Disability Discrimination Act 1995;
    •  have medical needs;
    •  have emotional, social and behavioural difficulties; and
    •  are learning English as an additional language.
    Further information on ALN pupils is available in Annex 6 in the relevant inspection guidance handbooks.
  • ADEW

    The association of directors of education in Wales. Every local authority is represented on this body, which meets to discuss issues and agree responses and strategies.

  • Adult basic education

    Adult basic education is for learners who want to improve their basic literacy and numeracy skills. They can gain accreditation from pre-entry up to level 2.

  • Adult community learning

    Adult community learning is lifelong learning classes for adults who learn in their local communities. These
    part-time classes cover adult basic education, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), Welsh for adults, and subjects such as information and communication technology, languages, arts and crafts, personal development, alternative therapies and academic study. Increasingly these courses support people to develop skills to gain employment or meet the changing needs of the employment market.
  • Adult community learning partnerships

    Local partnerships, usually based on local authority areas, which co-ordinate learning for adults across a variety of providers including FE colleges and the voluntary sector.

  • Aiming for Excellence Programme

    A Welsh Government initiative to improve transition and the levels of progress pupils make when they move from primary to secondary school.

  • Advanced Level (A level)

    General Certificate of Education at Advanced Level.

  • Agored Cymru

    A charitable trust and awarding organisation, which works in partnership to provide opportunities for learners, particularly those who have missed out on previous opportunities to acquire skills and qualifications through the award of credit-based courses and qualifications, which are flexible and responsive to the needs of individuals and communities in Wales.

  • All-Wales Core Data Sets

    The core data sets contain a range of graphs, charts and tables illustrating:
    •  a school’s results against local and national performance;
    •  the difference in performance between girls and boys and between those pupils who receive free school meals and those who do not;
    •  comparisons with performance of similar schools on the free-school-meal benchmarks; and
    •  comparisons with performance of similar schools within the ‘family of schools’.
    The ‘families’ are created by initially grouping schools according to whether the language used in the school is mainly English or Welsh. Schools are then grouped according to their score on an ‘index of challenge’. This index is derived from a number of contextual factors, including:
    •  the percentage of pupils entitled to free school meals and other socio-economic factors;
    •  the percentage of pupils with school action plus support or special educational needs statements; and
    •  the proportion of pupils of statutory school age who are either new to the English language or Welsh where relevant, at an early  acquisition stage or developing competence.
  • ALIS

    A Level Information System. A monitoring system produced by the University of Durham that uses GCSE data and alternative baseline tests as measures of ability, against which to measure. This enables ALIS to provide predictive data and value-added analyses specific to each student and each subject studied.


    The additional learning needs co-ordinator co-ordinates the work of a school to support pupils with additional learning needs. (See SENCO below)

  • Appetite for Life

    This is Welsh Government initiative designed to promote a balanced diet as part of a healthy lifestyle and to improve the nutritional standards of food and drink in schools.

  • Area inspection

    In area inspections, we inspect the quality and availability of a specific type of education or training for 14 to
    19-year-olds in a given area in Wales.
  • Areas of Learning

    These are the seven areas that make up the Foundation Phase curriculum in English-medium settings.
    (Welsh-medium settings are not required to teach Welsh language development as this is already the language of the setting.) The Areas of Learning are as follows:
    •  personal and social development, wellbeing and cultural diversity;
    •  language, literacy and communications skills;
    •  mathematical development;
    •  Welsh language development;
    •  knowledge and understanding of the world;
    •  physical development; and
    •  creative development.
  • ASDAN (Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network)

    The network’s qualifications and awards are used by schools and colleges to provide opportunities for learners aged 14-19 to develop personal, social and active citizenship skills, work-related skills, key skills and wider key skills. The qualifications and awards are approved and funded by the Department for Education and Skills.
  • AS level (Advanced subsidiary level)

    An exam taken between GCSE and A level.

  • Asset

    A structured assessment tool, developed by the Youth Justice Board, looking at the young person’s offence, personal circumstances, attitudes and beliefs which have contributed to their offending behaviour.

  • Asylum seeker

    An asylum seeker has applied for leave to stay in the UK but has not yet been granted leave to stay by the Home Office.

  • Attainment

    How well learners are doing as measured in national tests and in the qualifications or credits they gain.

  • Attainment rates

    These indicate the number of learners who achieve a qualification as a percentage of those who completed the course.

  • Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)

    This term describes the communication methods used to supplement or replace speech or writing for those with impairments in the production or comprehension of spoken or written language. These individuals will use gestures, communications boards, pictures, symbols, drawings or a combination of all of these.

  • Autism

    Pupils with autism have difficulties with social relationships, social communication and imaginative thinking. Pupils cover the full range of ability and some may have other learning difficulties or disabilities as well. Autism is part of the range of Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

  • Autistic spectrum disorders (ASD)

    The term Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is used to describe the group of pervasive developmental disorders characterised by difficulties in social interaction and communication and by a restricted range of repetitive behaviour and interests.