Jargon Buster

Our staff team have compiled a list of commonly used terms that you may hear used at the Early Years’ service and included the definitions to help parents demystify the terminology.

Education: organisations and legal terminology


Department for Education.


Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. They inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages.


Local Authority – an administrative body in government responsible for all the public services and facilities within an area.


Local Education Authority – term no longer used, it has been replaced by single term Local Authority.


A child is anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. They have an entitlement to services and protection under the Children Act 1989. A child with SEN is a child until they reach their 19th birthday.


British Black, Asian and minority ethnics – used to refer to non-white communities in the UK.

Education: types of school / academic institutions

Maintained school

A school funded by a Local Authority.

Free School

A school set up by a group of individuals or an organisation, funded by the government, but not controlled by the Local Authority.


A state-funded school in England, directly funded by the Department for Education, independent of Local Authority control.

Independent School

School independent from the authorities in its finances and governance. It may have a board of governors or trustees or be controlled by a board of directors or even one individual. It will have a system of governance to ensure it operates independently.

Independent Special School

As above, but specifically designed to make provision for those children with special education needs.

Section 41 School

A school published by the Secretary of State as an approved independent education institution or independent special school. Any Section 41 school listed in an EHCP has a legal requirement to offer that child a place, regardless of existing pupil numbers.

Prep School

A preparatory school is a private primary school for children, getting them ready for a place at a private secondary school.

Public School

A private, fee-paying secondary school.


Pupil Referral Unit or Pupil Re-Integration Unit – an establishment maintained by a Local Authority specifically organised to provide education for children who are excluded, sick or otherwise unable to attend a mainstream or special maintained school.

Education: curriculum & learning levels

NC Levels

National Curriculum Levels – a set of 8 bands used to measure a child’s progress against other pupils of the same age across the UK. The levels apply to children in KS1, 2 and 3. NC Levels are being phased out; schools are being given the responsibility of setting their own measures of progress.


Also known as P Levels, these are an assessment tool for pupils aged 5 to 16 with special educational needs to report pupil’s attainment working below the standard of the National Curriculum tests and assessments. There is no legal requirement to follow these – at BeyondAutism we instead use targets set out in each learner’s IEP as these better track the progress the individual is making.


Early Years Foundation Stage – a set of standards in England for the learning, development and care of a child from birth up to 5 years.


Early Start Denver Model – a relationship-based intervention methodology involving parents and families boosting children’s social-emotional, cognitive, and language abilities.


Key Stages – the stages of the state education system. The National Curriculum then sets out the expected targets to be achieved in different subject areas within these key stages.


Key Stage 0, known as Early Years – covers nursery / reception, age 3–5.


Key Stage 1 – equivalent to school years 1 and 2, age 5–7.


Key Stage 2 – equivalent to school years 3 to 6, age 7–11.

Education: Special needs


Special Education Needs – a legal term describing the needs of a child who has a difficulty or disability which makes it harder for them to learn than their peers.


Special Education Needs and Disabilities – when someone has a learning difficulty and a disability that means they need special health and education support.


Social Emotional and Mental Health – a certain type of special education needs where a child/young person has severe difficulties in managing their emotions and behaviour.


Special Education Needs Co-ordinator.


Team Around the Child is a model of multi-agency service provision. The TAC brings together a range of different practitioners from across the children and young people's workforce to support an individual child or young person and their family.


Previously called the statement, the Education Health Care Plan sets out the education, health and social needs of a child, and the support needed to be able to deliver it. Notably, the education aspects included within are legally binding – the local authority has a duty to provide support to meet them, whereas the health and social aspects are recommendations.  It covers up to 25 years.

Ed Psych

Educational Psychologist. They work within local authorities, in partnership with families and other professionals to help children and young people achieve their full potential by using their training to assess difficulties a child may have in accessing learning.


Personal Curriculum Plan – a document, created by our schools, that provides an overview of the targets being worked on each year, mapping out key development areas and ensuring that progress keeps momentum throughout the year.


Individual Education Plan – this is a document developed for each child with an EHCP to outline the targets that will be worked towards each term, to ensure the EHCP is being delivered.


Programme at a Glance – used at our schools, this is a weekly tracker that outlines in a visual way the progress each individual learner is making against their termly targets.


Pronounced ‘CAMS’ this is the Child and Mental Health Services, a specialist NHS service who assess and treat young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health issues.

Child in Need

Defined under the Children Act 1989 as a child who is unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable level of health or development, or whose health and development is likely to be significantly or further impaired, without the provision of services; or a child who is disabled. Every single one of our pupils is legally defined as a Child in Need.

Looked after child

A child is looked after by a local authority if a court has granted a care order to place a child in care, or a council's children's services department has cared for the child for more than 24 hours.

Pupil premium

Additional funding given to schools in England to help disadvantaged children perform better and close the gap between them and their peers.

Free School meals (FSM)

Entitlement for families living in poverty to ensure their children receive a healthy nutritious meal in the middle of the day. This goes hand-in-hand with pupil premium.

Safeguarding organisations, individuals and terminology


Designated Safeguarding Lead – take lead responsibility for safeguarding and child protection across the school/ each site of the organisation. They take part in strategy discussions and inter-agency meetings and contribute to the assessment of children. They advise and support other members of staff on child welfare and child protection matters and liaise with relevant agencies such as the local authority and police.


Designated Safeguarding Person – supporting the Designated Safeguarding Lead at each site. Each class has a DSP responsible for following up on safeguarding concerns for their class/classes.


Local Authority Designated Officer – they are a person within the local authority whose role is to provide support and guidance for employers around any safeguarding concerns involving children and young people. They can be a liaison between other organisations such as the police and Ofsted and assist where investigations are required.


Multi Agency Safeguarding Hubs – set up by many areas in response to government review of procedures in place to identify children and vulnerable adults at risk of abuse. Specifically, these hubs aim to bring together professionals across different agencies to stop anyone at risk falling through the gaps and not getting the support they need.

Local Safeguarding Partnerships

Local Safeguarding Partnerships are set to replace MASH and LADO teams within 2 years.

KCSIE 2018

Keeping Children Safe in Education – publication from government providing statutory guidance for proprietors, schools and colleges on safeguarding children and safer recruitment.

Working Together to Safeguard Children

Statutory guidance on inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, updated in July 2018.

About Autism


Autism Spectrum Condition, alternative to ASD.


Autism Spectrum Disorder, alternative to ASC.

Stims / Stimming

Short for self-stimulatory behaviour, people do this to provide sensory input, usually of a pleasing nature. This can be a way of relaxing in stressful situations, so is a natural part of having autism. We all have stims – twirling our hair, rocking on chairs, biting our nails, jiggling our knees are all examples of stims. However, if the stim is self-injurious in nature, we would teach replacement behaviours.

Relevant associations / organisations


National Autistic Society – the largest autism charity in the UK, serving people with autism from early diagnosis right through adulthood.


National Association of Special Schools – the voice of the non-maintained school sector, a registered charity and company. BeyondAutism are members of this Association.  


Independent Parental Special Education Advice – non-profit organisation offering parents free and independent legal advice and support to get the right education for their child.

Scientific Methodology / Curriculum

(Applied Behaviour Analysis)

A method of teaching that uses the childs’ own motivation to encourage them to access their individual learning goals and targets. This method of teaching uses behaviour analysis as a way to teach/learn new skills, reduce problematic behaviours and increase socially appropriate and positive behaviours.

(Verbal Behaviour)

VB is a strand of research that analysed language as behaviour rather than as a cognitive process. It is an understanding that language is learnt and acquired like any other behaviour. It was proposed that language acquisition is determined by the way it is used (its function) rather than its form. Skinner (1957) defined the different functions of language (how we use it and why) which he called collectively Verbal Operants (please see Verbal Behaviour Terminology below for further detail).


Positive Behaviour Support – evolved from Applied Behaviour Analysis, this is considered a more age-appropriate way of teaching those post-16 onwards. 


Essentials for Living – a functional skills curriculum, and skill tracking framework, for students with moderate to severe learning difficulties including but not limited to autism.



Board Certified Behaviour Analyst is a graduate-level certification in behaviour analysis. Professionals who are certified at the BCBA level are practitioners who provide behaviour-analytic services. They devise programmes, interventions and supervise the delivery of these programmes.


Board Certified Assistant Behaviour Analyst – an undergraduate level certification in behaviour analysis.


National Award for SEN Co-ordination – a statutory requirement for all SENCOs appointed new to role since 2008.

ABA Terminology and definitions


Anything that somebody does, says, thinks, or feels.


The reason why a particular behaviour may be present in a person’s repertoire. For example, what the person is trying to get/ achieve through displaying a particular behaviour.


Something that occurs in the environment or setting, which might lead to a particular behaviour occurring.


Something that changes in the environment that happens directly as a result of a specific behaviour occurring.

Reinforcement (a form of consequence)

Appropriate behaviours are rewarded with something that is motivating to the child, and therefore increases the likelihood of that behaviour occurring again.

(a form of consequence, not aversive strategy)

Something that is added or taken away following a behaviour that decreases the likelihood that the behaviour will occur in the future. This word has very negative connotations, implying methodologies that we do not condone at BeyondAutism. Our focus is on rewarding positive behaviours, really understanding why behaviours that challenge are happening, and changing the situation that is causing behaviours that challenge for each individual.


A behaviour reduction strategy that works by identifying what reinforcement is sustaining a target behaviour and ensuring that the behaviour no longer receives that reinforcement. This may result in an initial extinction burst (see below).

Extinction Burst

A temporary increase in the frequency, intensity or duration of a particular behaviour that is no longer receiving reinforcement (see above). This may also include new behaviours that were not present before.


Pairing is used in the initial stages of teaching to associate a person, items or environments with positive experiences. This strategy is used to teach a child or young person with autism that interactions with people are rewarding.

Mastered Pile

A set of cards used in intensive teaching trials (ITT) sessions consisting of all of the skills that a child has ‘mastered’ or learnt previously.


“probed it” or “got it on the probe”

A data collection method that is carried out daily on certain target skills. It is a way of assessing whether or not teaching from the previous day was successful in teaching an individual a skill. This ensures that the skill being taught is maintained across time, settings and people.

ABC data


A data collection method that is carried out daily by tutors on the antecedents (environmental triggers), that evoke specific behaviours and the consequences that followed the behaviours. ABC data is taken as an ongoing in-situ analysis and is used to identify patterns in the behaviours, such as when, where and why.

Verbal Behaviour terminology

Verbal Operants

Skinner defined 6 key functions of language:

Mand (to request), Tact (to label), Intraverbal (to answer questions), Echoic/Mimetic (to copy), Transcription (to write), Textual (to read a text).

(to request)

To request a desired item, activity, action or piece of information. Can be communicated through talking, signing, pictures or other behaviours e.g. pointing, pulling you towards something.

(to label)

To label anything in the immediate environment. This could include items, actions, emotions, smells, or interactions. Can be communicated through talking, signing, pictures, pulling you towards something.

(to answer questions)

To answer questions in social exchanges, engage in conversation, or filling in appropriate words from songs and phrases.

Echoic/Mimetic (to copy)

To copy back what somebody else says or does.

(to write)

To write, type or finger spell what somebody else is saying/has said.

Textual (to read)

To read text (this does not imply comprehension).

Positive Handling Techniques

Team Teach

A holistic approach to management of behaviours that challenge that involves a range of strategies mainly focused on de-escalation, prevention and safety. In situations in which physical intervention may need to be used, the measures implemented are in the best interests of the individual and are the least intrusive response appropriate.

Roles within the service

ABA Tutor

A person who works with a child and is responsible for the day to day implementation of the childs’ individualised curriculum. Tutors receive on-going ABA training whilst in employment at BeyondAutism.

ABA Supervisor

The person who is the key leader within the classroom, managing staff, children and communication with parents. They are responsible for the overall progress within their class and for the design and implementation of behavioural programmes and procedures based on the principles of ABA and guided by continual assessments.  

Speech, Language and Communication Needs Teacher

The person who plans, prepares and delivers engaging speech and language sessions at the service, working closely with Tutors and Supervisor to engage and encourage parent participation in the sessions.

Teaching Methods

NET (Natural Environment Teaching)

NET is loosely structured and incorporates incidental teaching opportunities in activities the child enjoys, this ensures that children have the opportunity to generalise skills learnt.



Makaton is a language programme that uses signs and symbols to aid communication. At school when we talk about ‘Makaton’ we are usually referring to the Makaton signs. The signs are used in spoken word order and staff will use speech with the sign.

PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)

PECS is an alternative communication method that involves teaching individuals who are nonverbal to exchange pictures in order to interact with others in their environment.


Augmentative and Alternative Communication is an overarching term used to describe a variety of methods of communication that can be used to supplement or replace speech or writing for those who find the spoken or written language challenging. 


A signer refers to a child whose primary method of communication is through the use of sign language. Communication for this learner within the school is taught through the use of sign language; at BeyondAutism Schools, this is Makaton signs.


A child whose primary method of communication is through clearly pronounced vocal words. Communication for this learner within the school is taught using Echoics (see verbal operants above).

Vocal Signer

A child whose primary method of communication is through a combination of word approximations (unclear forms of the adult word) and sign language. Communication for this learner within the school is taught using Echoics (see verbal operants above) and sign language.

Assessments and Curriculum

AFLS (Assessment of Functional Living Skills)

The Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS) assessment provides 6 protocols to assess functional, practical, and essential skills of everyday life, these are: Basic Living Skills, Home Skills, Community Participation, School Skills, Vocational Skills and Independent Living Skills.


Self-management, communication, housekeeping and chores, cooking and social awareness are some of the modules within these AFLS framework. The AFLS is primarily used to develop objectives that increase an individual’s independence in the community.

ABLLS-R (Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills)

The ABLLS-R (Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills) is ‘an assessment tool based on a criterion-referenced set of skills that can demonstrate a child’s current repertoire and provides for the tracking of its progressive development’ (Partington, James W. The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills).

The ABLLS-R contains a task analysis of many skills necessary to communicate successfully and learn from everyday experiences. It is comprised of four assessments which are carried out on the learner, these are: Basic Learner Skills, Academic Skills, Self-Help Skills and Motor Skills.

BeyondAutism independence framework

The independence framework was developed within BeyondAutism Schools in order to create an assessment tool that would enable preparation and planning for learners to move away from working full time within a 1:1 model. We use it within the School Readiness group in order to identify the most important skills that children need in order to be able to access education within a mainstream environment.

The framework ties together two assessment tools that are frequently used within ABA settings; Essential for Living and VB-MAPP. It assesses the areas of development that need to be worked on and targeted within group-based learning.

It requires detailed knowledge of the learners in order to be effective and for learners to progress to the next attainable level through the framework.

VB-MAPP (Verbal Behaviour Milestones Assessment and Placement Program)

The VB-MAPP is an assessment based on B.F. Skinner’s book Verbal Behaviour (1957), an analysis in the study of language. There are five components to the VB-MAPP that are used to assess language and other skills, to determine appropriate educational placements, and to assist in developing goals and objectives.

The first component is the Milestones Assessment, which is designed to provide a representative sample of the learner’s current verbal and related skills. The second component of the VB-MAPP is the Barrier’s Assessment, which provides an assessment of 24 common learning and language acquisition barriers that many children with autism and other developmental disabilities may confront.  By identifying these barriers, specific instructional practices can be developed to help decrease these issues and lead to more effective learning.

Informal Assessment

A brief assessment carried out by school staff prior to a child/young person beginning a placement at a BeyondAutism School, to determine whether or not the provision is able to meet individual and educational needs.