Glossary - s

Definitions of all our inspection terms.

  • Sabbatical scheme

    The ‘sabbatical scheme’ is an initiative aiming to help increase the number of Welsh-speaking teachers and lecturers who teach through the medium of Welsh.

  • Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults

    Statutory duty placed on education and training providers to keep children and vulnerable adults safe under section 11 of the Children Act 2004.

  • School Action

    When a class or subject teacher identifies that a pupil has additional learning needs they provide interventions that are additional to or different from those provided as part of the school’s usual differentiated curriculum offer and strategies.

  • School Action Plus

    When a class or subject teacher and the ALNCO are provided with advice or support from outside specialists, so that alternative interventions additional or different strategies to those provided for the pupil through school action can be put in place. The ALNCO usually takes the lead although day-to-day provision continues to be the responsibility of the class or subject teacher.

  • School council

    A representative group of pupils elected by other pupils to discuss matters about their education and raise concerns with the senior managers and governors of their school. The Welsh Government wants all children and young people in Wales to enjoy their education and to feel that their school responds to their needs. Pupils should have the opportunity to let adults know their feelings and opinions about things that affect them. They should also be able to have a say about decisions and to play an active role in making their school a better place.

  • School Effectiveness Framework

    The School Effectiveness Framework has been developed by the Welsh Government in collaboration with key stakeholders. It sets out the vision and an implementation schedule for putting School Effectiveness based on tri-level reform into action.

  • Schools Challenge Cymru

    Schools Challenge Cymru was launched by the Welsh Government in May 2014 to improve the quality of teaching and learning by sharing expertise and teachers with high-performing schools. The schools involved are called ‘Pathways to Success’ Schools.


    Scope is a UK disability organisation whose focus is people with cerebral palsy.

  • Sector Skills Councils

    A Sector Skills Council is an employer-led independent organisation that covers specific occupational skills. Its role is to improve learning opportunities through Foundation Modern Apprenticeships and Modern Apprenticeships and to reduce any shortages in skilled workers.

  • Secure estate

    Facilities run by HM Prison Service, including prisons and youth offending institutions.

  • Secure setting

    These are places where young people, who have broken the law, serve their sentences after a court conviction. Secure settings are young offender institutions or secure children’s homes. The prison service or social services run these facilities.

  • Special Educational Needs (SEN)

    Special educational needs are defined within the SEN Code of Practice for Wales (2002) and can include disability, learning difficulties or emotional, social and behavioural difficulties.


    The special educational needs co-ordinator co-ordinates the work of a school to support pupils with special educational needs. (See ALNCO.)

  • Sentence plan

    A plan which sets out a consistent, constructive and coherent approach to be undertaken during an offender’s entire sentence, whether in custody or in the community and leading to a reduction in reoffending.

  • Serious weaknesses

    A school has serious weaknesses if, although it gives its pupils an acceptable standard of education, it has significant weaknesses in one or more areas of its activity. This category of schools has now been replaced by significant improvement (see below).

  • Settings

    Funded by the Welsh Government, through Early Years and Childcare Partnerships, to provide part-time education for three-year-olds to five-year-olds. Settings include playgroups, private day-care providers, independent nurseries and child minders.

  • Severe and profound learning difficulties

    Pupils with severe learning difficulties have significant intellectual or cognitive difficulties. (Cognitive difficulties include conditions such as short-term or long-term memory problems, and finding it difficult to make decisions or to plan and organise even the simplest daily tasks. They may also have associated difficulties in mobility and co-ordination, communication and understanding, and learning self-help skills.)

  • Significant improvement

    This is a formal category that applies to schools causing concern as defined by the Education Act 2005. The Minister for Education and Skills and Assembly officers will be informed when schools are placed in these categories and kept informed, following monitoring inspections by Estyn, of subsequent progress. Significant improvement means that a school is judged to be performing significantly less well than it might in all circumstances be expected to perform. A team of inspectors returns to the school for a few days a year later to find out how well the school has progressed. If progress is not good enough, the school may be placed into special measures. This category can also apply to local authorities.

  • SIMS

    This stands for ‘School Information Management System’. It is a tool aimed at helping schools to manage information about their pupils and staff.

  • Single Education Plan

    Education services are covered by a series of plans, such as the Education Strategic Plan and Behaviour Support Plan. These have been replaced by a single plan that sets out intended outcomes for the education services provided by local authorities in line with policies set out by the Welsh Government.

  • Skill Build

    These programmes give learners an opportunity to try different kinds of jobs to find out which one suits them best. The programmes also support learners to develop the skills they need to progress to further training or to work.

  • Skills for Life

    This is a general term used to refer to the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), literacy and numeracy curriculum in England, including qualifications. The term is now used in Wales and it particularly relates to the suite of ESOL qualifications offered by providers in Wales.

  • Skills framework

    The Skills framework for three to 19-year-olds (2008) is a non-statutory framework designed to underpin the planning for the Foundation Phase, all National Curriculum Subject Orders, and the frameworks for personal and social education, careers and the world of work, and religious education. It identifies four main skill areas: communication, application of number, information and communication technology and thinking skills. The communication and application of number elements have been superseded in January 2013 by the national Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF). This framework is compulsory for 5 to 14 year-olds from September 2013.

  • Skills that Work for Wales

    Skills That Work for Wales is a skills and employment strategy bringing together a Welsh response to the Leitch Review of Skills in the UK and a preliminary response to the independent Review of the Mission and Purpose of Further Education in the context of The Learning Country: Vision into Action, chaired by Sir Adrian Webb.

  • Social, emotional and behavioural difficulties

    Pupils with these difficulties may display behaviour that is withdrawn, isolated, disruptive, hyperactive, inattentive, socially immature or challenging. Some of these pupils have associated difficulties in mental or physical health, communication and learning.

  • Soft skills

    The cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that complement hard skills, which are the technical requirements of a job.

  • Speaking and writing frames

    A teaching approach which enables pupils to work to a framework in order to sequence their ideas for work on topics so that they can develop more extended oral and written contributions.

  • Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales

    This is an independent tribunal set up to hear and decide parents’ appeals against the decisions of local education authorities about provision for children with special educational needs and disability discrimination in schools.

  • Special measures

    This is a formal category that applies to schools causing concern as defined by the Education Act 2005. The Minister for Education and Skills and Assembly officers will be informed when schools are placed in these categories and kept informed, following monitoring inspections by Estyn, of subsequent progress. Special measures means that a school is not providing an acceptable standard of education and its leaders are not demonstrating that they can help it to improve. We work with the school and the local authority to develop an action plan, in order to address the inspectors’ recommendations. Then we visit the school every term to monitor progress, until we judge that it has improved enough to be taken out of special measures. This category can also apply to local authorities.

  • Specified work

    This enables pupils to continue their learning as they carry out activities under supervision. This is distinct from cover supervision work to cover teachers absent on sick leave where no active teaching takes place. Specified work in schools can include tasks set by teachers, extended tasks jointly planned by support staff and teachers and free-standing enrichment activities delivered by external specialist teachers or volunteers.

  • SSA

    The Welsh Government distributes its annual Revenue Support Grant to each Council through a formula called the Standard Spending Assessment or SSA. The SSA is the amount which the Welsh Government assesses is required to provide, in relative terms, a standard level of service in the area. Each local authority has a nominal element within its SSA for the local authority youth service.

  • Strategic management

    This refers to leaders and managers having a clear vision for the role of education which is reflected in clear forward planning.

  • Strategy for Older People

    This provides a structured basis for the Welsh Government and other public bodies in Wales to develop future policies and plans, which better reflect the needs of older people and recognise the changing nature of society and social circumstances.

  • Steps to Employment programmes

    Steps to Employment programmes are designed for people who are 18 years of age or over, have left full time education, are ordinarily resident in Wales and in receipt of Department for Work and Pensions allowances. They are training programmes focusing on moving individuals into work by providing them with the support to overcome barriers into work including the necessary employment skills to obtain sustainable employment. There are two Steps to Employment programmes provided to meet the individual needs of learners. These are Work Focused Learning and Routeways to Work.

  • Stronger Partnerships – Better Outcomes

    Stronger Partnerships for Better Outcomes is statutory guidance under sections 25(8), 26(5), and 27(4) of the Children Act 2004. These provisions place a duty of local co-operation on local authorities in Wales and a range of partners to improve the wellbeing of children and young people in each local authority area. They require local authorities to appoint a lead director and to designate a lead member for children and young people.

  • Subsidy

    Jobcentre Plus often pays a wage subsidy to employers who take on a client as an employee under the Workstep programme (see below). This is because many clients on the Workstep programme are not normally as productive as other employees or they may need special adaptations to the workplace. One of the aims of the programme is that clients develop the skills and confidence to move on to unsubsidised (or open) employment.

  • Success rates

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

  • Sure Start

    Sure Start is a Welsh Government programme which aims to deliver the best start in life for every child and brings together early education, childcare, health and family support.

  • Sustainable development

    This is about improving the quality of life without putting it at risk for the future, for example by reusing and recycling.

  • SSSP

    This is the Summary of Secondary School Performance which contains summary examination information, specific to each school, compiled by the WJEC on behalf of the Welsh Government. By adding data from all the main examination boards in England and Wales each year, a cumulative record of achievement of each pupil in Wales is created. These pupil level results are then aggregated to school level to provide the information on the form.