The PTA jargon buster


What is your parent teacher group called at school? Is it a PTA, PA, PTO, PC, PSA, Friends Of … or something else? The world of schools and their parent associations are absolutely littered with acronyms and jargons that would test the most experienced Government or multinational business employee!

So we’re here today to bust a few and lift the lid on what all the terminology, jargon and acronyms mean. This is a thorough rundown of all the key phrases you’re likely to encounter in your volunteer role at school; hopefully more than you’ll ever need! We’ve included education-sector specific terminology that is used in school too, as there are many occasions when you’ll be supporting or fundraising for a particular service that the school offers. We’ve also thrown in some phrases used in school governor meetings too!

You may be surprised to find out how much you already know. You could even use this as an ice-breaker quiz for your next AGM (Annual General Meeting)! *cringe*

Parent association names

PTA - Parent Teacher Association

PA - Parent Association

PTO - Parent Teacher Organization (usually in the USA)

PSA - Parent School Association / Parent Staff Association

PTC - Parent Teacher Council

PC - Parent Council (usually in Australia)

PSA - Parent School Association

PTSA - Parent Teacher Student Association

PFA - Parent Friend Association

  • In the USA, National PTA® is the oldest and largest child advocacy association in America. PTA is a registered nonprofit association.

Education jargon and acronyms

AFL - Assessment For Learning

ARE - Age-related expectations

ASD - Autism Spectrum Disorder

CAHMS - Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

CiC - Children In Care

CLA - Children Looked After

DHT - Deputy Head Teacher

EAL - English as an Additional Language

EBD - Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties

EHT - Executive Head Teacher

EYFS - Early Years Foundation Stage

FTE - Full Time Equivalent

FSM - Free School Meals

G&T - Gifted & Talented

HE - Higher Education

HT - Head Teacher

INSET day - In-Service Education and Training day - teachers go into to school, children have the day off, parents have to find childcare! 

IWB - Interactive White Board

KS - Key Stages

KS1 - Years 1 and 2 - age 5 - 7

KS2 - Years 3,4,5,6 - age 7-11

KS3 - Years 7,8, 9 - age 11-14

LSA / TA - Learning Support Assistant / Teaching Assistant

Maintained School: This is a community, foundation or voluntary school 

NC - National Curriculum

NOR - Number On Roll

NQT - Newly Qualified Teacher

PPA - Planning, Preparation and Assessment time - teachers have some allocated time for lesson planning within in the school week

PSHE - Personal, Social and Health Education

Pupil Premium - extra funding for schools to raise the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers

SATS - Standard Attainment Tests, taken in primary schools in the UK in Year 2 and Year 6

SEAL - Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning

SEN - Special Educational Needs

SENCO - Special Education Needs Coordinator

SEND - Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

SIIP - School Development Plan / School Improvement Implementation Plan

SIP - School Improvement Plan

SLT - Senior Leadership Team - Headteacher / Principal, Deputy Head / Vice Principal and key teaching staff

SPaG - Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar

SpLd - Specific Learning Difficulties (dyslexia, dyspraxia etc)

Statement of Special Educational Needs - also referred to as a ‘statement’ - a legal document that sets out a child’s needs and support requirements

Transition - movement of pupils into a new Key Stage or school and the support that goes alongside

Education Government Department and Unions acronyms

DDA - Disability Discrimination Act

DfE - Department for Education

FMSiS - Financial Management Standards in Schools

HMI - Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools

ISA - Independent Safeguarding Authority

LA - Local Authority

LLE - Local Leader of Education

LMS - Local Management of Schools

LMSS - Local Management of Special Schools

NAHT - National Association of Head Teachers

NASUWT - National Association of Schoolmasters / Union of Women Teachers

NUT - National Union of Teachers

OFSTED - Office for Standards in Education

Performance Table - DfE table to compare school results

Fundraising / Budget jargon

Budget Share - the school’s share of the money available to schools

Capital Expenditure - spending on building projects / large equipment

CIF - Condition Improvement Fund: a grant funding scheme given by the Education & Skills Funding Agency (EFA)

Contingency Fund - money saved for unexpected costs

Crowdfunding - raising money via an online platform for a specific project

Delegated Budget - the amount given to governors to manage (including increased powers and responsibilities for management of staff)

Devolved budget - money given to schools to pay for centrally-provided services

Formula Funding - the method by which school budgets are decided

GAG - General Annual Grant

Grant Fundraising - raises a non-repayable sum donated by councils, foundations or businesses

PDC - Post-Dated Cheque

SLA - Service Level Agreement

Voluntary Aided (VA) School: a school set up and owned by a voluntary body, usually a church, largely financed through the LA. The governors employ staff and control religious education and admissions. 

Voluntary Controlled (VC) School: a school set up by a voluntary body (generally the Church of England), totally funded through the LA. The LA employs the staff.

Running the PTA and Governors meetings

Constitution - PTAs that are registered as a charity need to have a published constitution, which sets out the rules and procedures by which committee members govern the association.

Quorum: the number of people required to be present in order for the meeting to be able to conduct business. This is usually half the governing body (excluding vacancies). For committees, this should be at least three full governors.

CEO - Chief Executive Officer

COO - Chief Operating Officer

CRB - Criminal Records Bureau

DBS - Disclosure and Barring Service

FOI - Freedom of Information 

GDPR - General Data Protection Regulations - the EU rules around data protection, including laws on how you can contact parents and how to look after their data

ISA - Independent Safeguarding Authority

KPI - Key Performance Indicator

NGA - National Governors Association

PI - Performance Indicator

PSA - Parent Support Advisor

QA - Quality Assurance

RAG - Red Amber Green rating

ToR - Terms of Reference

VA - Value Added 

Let us know if you have any more!

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