Improving the future through education

Bett is known for bringing together everyone with a passion for improving the future through education, and showcasing the very best the global education marketplace has to offer. Here are the event highlights from 2017

With Bett 2017 scheduled after a year of significant change within the education sector, visitor numbers were expected to be high.
Issues such as academisation, governance, selective schooling, teacher retention and the outcome of the EU referendum were set to attract thousands of educators looking for solutions to support these changes.

PASSION FOR THE FUTURE

With a history spanning over three decades, Bett is known for bringing together everyone with a passion for improving the future through education, and showcasing the very best the global education marketplace has to offer.

Bett once again offered invaluable insight to everyone in the education sector – from teachers and school leaders to policy makers, suppliers and industry experts. Programmes on governance; continued professional development (CPD); educational technology; special educational needs (SEN); STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) and creativity in education achieved this.

IMPROVING THE EDUCATION SECTOR

More than ever teachers are looking for ways to efficiently and effectively improve what they do, so it was no surprise that the free CPD seminars were very well attended.

The Bett practitioner-led Learn Live CPD seminars and workshops addressed key issues in contemporary education and provided useful insight into the latest research, practices and policies affecting education worldwide. Sessions ranged from the practical ‘hands on’ ideas to enhance your teaching sessions, to major electrifying speakers such as Sir Ken Robinson, Heston Blumenthal and Ed Stafford.

Unsurprisingly, Ed Stafford’s session saw people squeezing in around the edge of the arena to catch sight of the renowned adventurer, explorer and broadcaster. Ed shared his views on why the spirit of exploration is so important in today’s world, and underlined the importance of technology in encouraging children’s natural desire to learn. He also gave all attending visitors ideas on how to ignite this inquisitiveness in their students.

Along similar lines, Eric Sheninger, senior fellow at International Centre for Leadership in Education, revealed his innovative research‑based practices; giving teachers ideas of how to implement these to bring back a sense of awe to learning. Throughout the session he stressed the importance of instilling this wonderment in the classroom.

Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal may not be an obvious speaker at Bett, but his session probably attracted three times more people than there were seats. He spoke passionately about creativity in education and the opportunity it brings to explore and discover. He encouraged teachers to welcome questions and failure in the classroom, believing this is the basis for constructive learning.

Looking at the ‘teacher led’ sessions, Maarit Rossi and Kazaya Takahashi hosted a panel discussion made up of Global Teacher Prize winners and finalists, discussing what makes a world-class teacher. This was a lively event with the audience getting involved in a debate, offering suggestions, comments and ideas. I doubt anyone left this session with less than five ideas of how to enrich their teaching.

Whether they attended best practice teacher led sessions or those delivered by celebrity speakers, visitors were given practical advice, insight, inspiration and tools to help them become educational game-changers.

SCHOOL LEADERSHIP SOLUTIONS

Ensuring there was something for everyone, Ascential, the organisers of Bett, once again excelled in the delivery of CPD sessions for school leaders. The School Leaders Summit, explored the most significant challenges facing senior leadership teams (SLTs) and addressed how these can be tackled. This summit provided an opportunity for school business managers and senior leaders to network and collaborate to come up with forward-thinking solutions to improve school leadership.

Turning to the exhibitors, despite budget cuts they appeared to be taking more orders than ever. Nik Tuscon, CEO of tablet and content supplier LearnPad said:“We’ve had people queueing up, it’s been insane and the interest level for Class VR has been astounding.”

STEAM VILLAGE

In terms of what appeared to gain a lot of attention at Bett, the seminars and exhibitors addressing the STEM subjects appeared to be very popular.

One example of how Bett evolves each year to meet these needs, is the STEAM Village, which was busier than ever.
Teachers, students and parents were invited to learn through exploration and play; they trialled STEAM solutions and products while considering how they can be assimilated into the classroom to enhance education. Experts were on hand to guide visitors through key STEAM topics, teaching methods, and new and emerging technologies.

Bett Futures once again proved to be an increasingly popular area of the show; growing in size year on year since its arrival at Bett in 2015. This year, the area of the show floor designed to nurture start-up companies, played host to more than 80 firms and their innovative new products. Ivor Novello award winner, George Hammond Hagan, was on his Studytracks stand demonstrating the revision to music app.

The idea came to George when his son was listening to music while studying for his GCSEs. George was initially sure it was a hindrance, but a simple experiment proved him completely wrong and Studytracks was born. Studytracks, is a free app that merges music with study materials, using lyrics relating to a specific exam theme or topic.

Other Bett Future’s exhibitors who attracted large numbers of visitors included MeeTwo.
This is a digital solution that provides teenagers with a supportive, 100 per cent‑moderated, community where they can ask awkward questions anonymously, and safely share their concerns. Educational resources embedded within the platform allow young people to go deeper into specific topics. They are also invited to submit creative content for inclusion in the app. Curious Chip was showing Ada, a computer designed for kids to enable them to get started with programming, electronics and other forms of digital creation, such as art and music. Ada combines hardware, software and learning materials in a simple and easy to use package.

Bett Futures success

Bett Futures is always a hugely popular area of the show. One exhibitor from the first Bett Futures back in 2015, MintedBox, was on the main show floor this year and its success has grown and grown. This year they were running a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style offer where schools with an idea for some software or app put their idea to the team at MintedBox. The winning idea will be developed and sold to other schools. The upside is that the school who came up with the idea will receive a proportion of the profit for every sale made.

When speaking to a number of visitors to Bett, the headline impression was that the show’s success is very much down to the nature of its exhibitors. These companies’ passion for educational improvement once again shone through; they were listening to what the visitors wanted, offering advice, connecting them up with other teachers and offering them free trials. Unlike any other show, the exhibitors are not there just to sell; they see Bett as the opportunity to meet with their audience and work with them to support their every changing needs.

KUBO Robot for example, was on stand demonstrating Robot Coding. It teaches children coding from three years of age and can be implemented by a teacher, regardless of their level of prior experience with coding.

We’ve all been on training courses only to go back to work and forget what we’ve been taught within a couple of weeks. With this in mind, and recognising teachers’ limited time to go on training courses, 123GO! has been designed to help make stick. It uses the simple LOOK, LEARN, TRY, EARN workflow to take any content, add a checklist and a challenge, and reward mastery with badges. Something many teachers were interested in at this year’s Bett.

With the current focus on the core curriculum areas, BOFA also proved to be popular with visitors. This online formative learning platform has been designed for KS2 students and helps to develop their maths and English skills. It’s a new product, with a sister product for 11+ preparation, which has successfully been used for the past nine years to prepare pupils for school entrance exams.

GlamSci aims to support the advancement of education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects among young people, particularly disadvantaged young women and men from poorer backgrounds, who would not ordinarily engage in these subjects. GlamSci hosts STEM-focused events, workshops, lectures and CPD events. Something that was clearly recognised by visitors as a very appropriate offering.

When asked, one visitor gave unexpected feedback on the main benefit of Bett as she sees it. She said: “When I’m on the stands of suppliers with a resource that I need, I start chatting to other teachers on the stand.
“We obviously have the same need and similar challenges. The conversations I have are the most valuable source of ideas I could gather.

“For me, Bett is all about learning how to make my teaching, easier, better and more effective.”

Each year, Bett provides this arena for open and informed discussions about the future of education, as well as invaluable training for educators across the sector, and Bett 2017 was no exception.

We recommend you put the date of Bett 2018 in your diary today: 24-27 January 2018, ExCel London.

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