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Save me from acronym spaghetti

The teachers' motto is: why talk in plain English when incomprehensible abbreviations can really baffle the listener. Anthea Davey offers a guide to staffroom-speak

So you've nearly completed your teaching practice and have learnt how to devise thrilling lessons on many topics. But have you mastered the art of teacher-speak? You'll soon discover that there is, sadly, no money for education in clubs with free drinks provided, but that the EiC (Education in Cities) funding for G and T (gifted and talented) students has arrived.

With this guide, you will no longer be bewildered by references to QCA or the GTC, but will be able to throw them into conversations to demonstrate your expertise.

A word of warning though - acronyms change quicker than education ministers so make sure you keep up and aren't still referring to schools when everyone else knows them as FACTORYs (Fundamental Access Centres for Training, Opportunities and Recruitment of Youth) You are now a BT (Beginning Teacher), soon to be NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) and thereafter a QT (Qualified Teacher) with QTS (Qualified Teacher Status).

You will be advised to join a union and have many to choose from - the main ones are: the NUT (National Union of Teachers), NASUWT (the National Union for Schoolmasters and the Union of Women Teachers), ATL (the Association of Teachers and Lecturers) or PAT (the Professional Association of Teachers).

While you have a choice over these bodies, you must pay for the privilege of being a member of the GTC (the General Teaching Council for England) set up in 2000 to regulate the profession and advise the government.

The school you work in may well be, unofficially, a BSC (Bog Standard Comprehensive) or even a BSPS (Bog Standard Primary School), and therefore under LEA (Local Education Authority) control, although this may also not be the case if you work in an authority in which the education department has lostgiven up control of education to a private contractor under PFI (Private Finance Initiative). However, it may have an even more special status denoting it as VA (Voluntary Aided) or GM (Grant Maintained; deceased 1999, but still existing in an amended form and sometimes referred to as a 'foundation school'). If it's neither of these, it may be voluntary-controlled, private, a city academy or a CTC (City Technology College).

You may have had some dealings as a student with the TTA (Teacher Training Agency), but now your school will be in charge of your CPD (continuing professional development), and you can benefit from fun-filled days acquiring new skills and knowledge on courses or Inset (in-service training) days. Older members of staff will call these Baker days, named after the much-loved former education secretary who introduced them. Your HoD (Head of Department) will ensure you receive the appropriate training by following the policy advice set out by the DfES (Department for Education and Skills), formerly DfEE (Department for Education and Employment), and formerly DFE (Department for Education) and before that the DES (Department for Education and Science).

In a multi-cultural school you will have some EAL (English as an additional language, formerly E2L - English as a Second Language) students and the school should have received some Emag (Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant) money, previously referred to as Section 11 funding. You may also have an LSA (learning support assistant). If you are in an EAZ (education action zone) then you are in one of 73 deprived areas.

Wherever you work, you will become familiar with the letters QCA - the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. It introduced the NLS (national literacy strategy) in September 2001 and was also in charge of last year's new Advanced and AS (Advanced Supplementary) Examinations, otherwise known as Curriculum 2000. The QCA also made changes to this year's SATs (standard assessment tests) and GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education, a merger of the former Ordinary level and CSE, Certificate of Secondary Education).

Once in the classroom, you may return to acronym-free life, as long as you're not teaching PSHE (personal, social and health education) or needing to refer to a syllabus from an exam board, for example Edexcel (excellence in education, previously Btec and Uleac - University of London Examinations Assessment Council) or OCR (the old Oxford and Cambridge board added to the RSA examinations group ) or AQA, a combination of the Associated Examining Board and the Northern Examination and Assessment Boards. And if your school is inspected by Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) you will discover a whole new world of acronyms.

Now you can begin your career with a sound grounding of teacher talk - and don't forget to keep up to date with the next initiatives and name changes (often one and the same) in Friday's TES (Times Educational Supplement).

Anthea Davey teaches at the Latymer school, Edmonton, north London

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