Jargon Buster

The world of education is littered with titles, phrases and terminology that can often seem like another language. To try and make things a bit easier for you, we’ve created a jargon buster to explain some of the terms used.


A way of judging how much you have learned, e.g., exams, practical, multiple-choice test.


DBS stands for Disclosure Barring Service – to enrol on some courses we need to make sure the student hasn’t got any past criminal convictions.


When a student is accepted onto the course.

Entry requirements

The qualifications or experience needed before starting the course.

FE (Further Education)

Education undertaken after GCSEs (post 16), for example a BTEC qualification or A Level.

Functional Skills

Covers maths, English and ICT (computer skills). Often studied as part of a course to improve skills and knowledge in preparation for employment.


BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT champions the global IT profession and the interests of individuals engaged in that profession for the benefit of all.


ECDL / ICDL certification is a globally recognised information and communication technology (ICT) and digital literacy qualification.

HE (Higher Education)

Education undertaken at university level, such as a degree, foundation degree or HND (Higher National Diploma).

Learning resource centre

Another term for a library, a place where students can borrow books, DVDs, journals and magazines relevant to their course and use college computers for work or internet research.


Another term for English.


Another term for maths.

Pass, Merit, Distinction

The grades given to the units on BTEC qualifications. Distinction is the highest, followed by Merit, then Pass.

Portfolio of work

Evidence of what the student has learned and achieved on their course. This could be written work, photographs, charts or reviews.

Practical assessment/observation

A way of assessing the ‘hands-on’ skills a student learns on their course. For example, they may be asked to run a coaching session if they study a sports course, for which they will be judged and given a score or mark.

Practical assessment/coursework

Practical means ‘hands-on’. Rather than classroom work/learning, practical study gets students doing the work themselves. For example, changing the oil in a car for a mechanical engineering course or cutting someone’s hair on a hairdressing course.


Protecting individuals from a range of risks, including drug and alcohol misuse, the inappropriate behaviour of others, health and safety, bullying/cyber-bullying etc.

Unit or module

A course is normally made up of a number of specific units or modules that will focus on one subject area, all of which are needed to complete in order to gain the qualification. For example, students may study a salon management unit as part of a hairdressing course or a graphic and illustrations unit as part of an art and design course.

Vocational qualification

A way of learning more about a specific job or industry. A vocational course will prepare students for a particular career or careers within an industry, e.g. mechanical engineering, fashion or hairdressing.

Work-related study

Learning topics that are specific to a job type. For example, learning how to create a presentation on a business administration course would be a useful skill to have if the student was employed as an administrator.