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Common Terms

Commonly Used Terms


Able to be reached, entered or understood.


Obstacles that prevent learners from accessing a full range of learning opportunities and limit their participation in society. Barriers can be due to attitudes, language, culture, organization of support services, power relations and structures within society.

Conceptual Framework

A framework of theories, assumptions, principles and rules. This underpins the work of the project and provides a ‘shared vision’ to guide project thinking, ensuring coherence and consistency.


Shared patterns that help us make meaning of our environment and determine appropriate behavior. The use of this term is often based on an unjustified assumption that there is a high level of cultural cohesion and homogeneity in the social group that is being described (especially when it is a group of which one is not a member).

Culturally Responsive Teaching

Using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles of diverse students to make learning more appropriate and effective for them, it teaches to and through the strengths of the students.


Curriculum differentiation is a way of planning, assessing and teaching a heterogeneous group of students in one classroom where all students are learning at their optimal level. Differentiation takes account of learner differences and matches curriculum content and teaching methods to learning styles and learner needs. It may focus on input, task, outcome, output, response, resources or support. Care must be taken, however, that differentiation does not lead to lower expectations and segregation with the mainstream system by offering a range of differentiated tasks to everyone in class, giving learners some choice in what they do and how they respond. 


To act on the basis of a difference between people, make an unjust distinction on basis of, for example, gender, disability, ethnic background etc.


Inequality or difference that may result from different outcomes or differential treatment of people with distinct characteristics. 


A multi-faceted concept that can contain many elements and levels of distinction, e.g. age, ethnicity, class, gender, physical abilities, race, sexual orientation, religious status, educational background, geographical location, income, marital status, parental status and work experiences. The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences.


Equality in education may be understood to imply that everyone is treated in a way that guarantees access to the same educational opportunities. Equality is based on the value that all human persons are equal in fundamental potential and self-worth.

Equal Opportunities

The same chances to take part in activities, access services, etc. with no barriers to education and equal life prospects for individuals.


Equity in education has two dimensions that are inter-linked:

  • Fairness – making sure that personal and social circumstances, for example
  • gender, socio-economic status or ethnic origin, do not present an obstacle to achieving educational potential. This aims to minimize divergence across social groups by bringing the achievements of the less advantaged to the same level as those of the more advantaged groups and ensure a basic common standard of education for all learners.
  • Inclusion – meeting the needs of all individuals through differential treatment in order to take student diversity into account


Defined in terms of shared genealogy, it connotes shared cultural traits and a shared group history. A person’s ethnic identity may be defined by his or her own categorization of themselves or by how others see them.

Inclusive Education

A process of strengthening the capacity of the education system to reach out to all learners ... As an overall principle, it should guide all education policies and practices, starting from the fact that education is a basic human right and the foundation for a more just and equal society.


Inclusion can be seen as a process of addressing and responding to the diversity of needs of all children, youth and adults through increasing participation in learning, cultures and communities, and reducing and eliminating exclusion within and from education. It involves changes and modifications in content, approaches, structures and strategies, with a common vision that covers all children of the appropriate age range and a conviction that it is the responsibility of the regular system to educate all children. It implies a radical reform of the school in terms of educational policy and curricular frameworks, which includes educational content, assessment, pedagogy, the systemic grouping of pupils within institutional and curricular structures. It is based on a values system that welcomes and celebrates diversity arising from gender, nationality, race, language, social background, level of educational achievement, disability, etc. Inclusion also implies that all teachers are responsible for the education of all learners.

Inclusive Curriculum

A curriculum that accommodates the needs of all learners. An inclusive curriculum aims to successfully educate all learners while celebrating the resulting diversity.


The bringing of people of different racial or ethnic groups into unrestricted and equal association, as in society or an organization; desegregation.

Intercultural Competency

Having the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to interact across cultural contexts.


Barely provided for or able to access services or participate in society. Generally understood as a social process by which vulnerable groups are moved out of the mainstream to a powerless position in society.

Social Cohesion

This is a multi-faceted concept. Dimensions include: material conditions such as employment, income, health, housing and education; social order and respect for others; relationships between individuals and communities; inclusion in society and equal access to opportunities/life chances. The promotion of social cohesion is intended to build more inclusive societies by giving everyone the chance to have access to fundamental rights and employment, to enjoy the benefits of economic growth with equity and social justice and thereby play a full role in society

Whole School Approach

A whole school approach is one that involves all members of a school community (i.e. students, staff, parents, community members) and seeks to include all areas of school life. It recognizes that real learning occurs both through the ‘formal’ curriculum and through the ‘hidden’ curriculum and learners’ experience of life in school and community.


The status of belonging to a particular nation by origin, birth, or naturalization.


“Genetic” heritage (including one’s skin color and associated traits); “social construct”, not based on biology, but created.

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