Current research suggests that 75% of the fastest growing occupations require a skill set best developed through STEM subjects.
An uplifting education show
With the world of education experiencing a major shift, this year’s Education Show proved to be a focal point for school leaders and classroom practitioners from across the country. Once again the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) hosted the show’s information point, offering advice and guidance to all visitors.
This year, people came to the Education Show with a very different perspective on the education sector than they did the previous year. With the extent of changes taking place throughout all areas of the sector, a review of the national curriculum and a significant tightening of the purse strings, schools are under pressure from all angles to continue to provide the exemplary education that has come to be expected. Historically, the event has always taken pride in its position and ability to reflect developments in educational policy and the resource needs and requirements of schools. The 21st Education Show proved no different attracting over 12,000 educators to the floor over three days.
It has become increasingly apparent that schools will now have to consider what resources they need to achieve their development plan on a limited budget. Exhibitors at the show listened to this need, and provided unique opportunities to spend the money that schools had left in their budgets before the end of the financial year with cost-effective procurement taking centre stage. Many of the over 400 exhibitors were on hand to ease the financial burden with exclusive offers and discounts that educators were eager to take up.
The Education Show 2011 also hosted a variety of exciting and well-received feature areas. Practical teaching ideas were at the heart of the new Resources Live Zone at the show, which offered demonstrations of resources in action, enabling teachers to take back inspirational ideas to use in the classroom. The focus for the area was on the highly topical areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and offered practitioners exciting new ideas to help bring these subjects to life.
Following the announcements of the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Green Paper just prior to the show, and the subsequent changes set for SEN provision, school leaders should not have missed the opportunity to visit the SEN Zone at the Education Show. Hosting a range of exhibitors, practitioners could compare and test resources and services to improve outcomes for Special Educational Needs (SEN) pupils and Inclusion. The nasen SEN Information Point once again was an invaluable point of call for all professionals seeking details on SEN resources, looking for practical advice and wanting to meet with experts to discuss the latest inclusive practice and specialist SEN teaching techniques. The specialist team from nasen were on hand to advise education professionals on how the recent SEN Green Paper will affect educational policy and practice.
2011 also saw the return of two popular zones that offered teachers a taste of the innovation that we are so pleased to see throughout the sector on a daily basis. In its second year, the BETT Zone was dedicated to showcasing the best of technology in education. Here were showcased a selection of exhibitors at the forefront of their field, who had only six weeks previously attended the world renowned BETT.
January 2011 had marked the 27th successful year of BETT, where once again the significant role that technology plays in the classroom and in the school as a whole was clear to see, even in a time of ongoing change and austerity in the sector. With technology moving at an ever expanding rate, the BETT Zone exhibitors were ideally situated to offer insight into the way in which technology is changing the direction of teaching, learning and the management of schools. Visitors had the opportunity to not only get hands-on experience of the latest products and solutions, but gain expert advice on procurement and the practical implementation of technology throughout their schools.
The Innovation Zone, meanwhile, was testimony to our strong belief that innovation drives industry and education forward. Education is and always should be a sector in which innovation is nurtured, but it can be difficult for the smaller business to thrive, especially at a time when schools are recognising the need for smarter spending. The Zone uncovered a host of never before seen ideas, resources and suppliers from some of the smaller start-ups to engage teachers and students alike, celebrating the diversity of the sector and the range of exciting, imaginative and inventive ideas we are so pleased to support.
For the first time in the history of the Education Show, all those involved were proud to offer fully accredited continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities for free, reflecting the need to overcome budgetary constraints and maintain best practice.
Each seminar in the extensive programme of over 80 sessions was designed to empower and inspire educators, providing best practice examples, advice on how to implement new strategies, the latest pedagogy and practical ideas for attendees to take back to their own classroom. Entitled ‘Learn Live’, the sessions were delivered by leading practitioners and addressed all areas of education in a series of targeted sessions to help teachers navigate the sea of change that is education. Policy associations and agencies were present at the show to answer practitioners’ questions on current education initiatives and the implications for specific subject areas.
Also new to the show this year was a series of well-received and highly attended workshop sessions. The ‘Achievement for All’ workshops that ran the course of the show are an ideal way to offer SEN pupils the best start in life. A national project developed by the Department for Education (DfE) and in partnership with the National College and National Strategies, the workshops offered advice, guidance and inspiration for educators to improve the access, aspiration and achievement of children with SEN, The Assessment and Learning, Pedagogy and Parental Engagement – significant following the promises of the SEN Green Paper to raise the profile of parents in education.
One of the most exiting launches this year came from the National Literacy Association (NLA) that we on the BESA stand were proud to host. ‘The Guide to Literacy Resources 2011 – Online’, is a free, time-saving aid for teachers looking for high quality, appropriate teaching material. The guide, which has been created by the NLA and supported by National Union of Teachers (NUT), National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), and ourselves, aims to help teachers and other professionals looking for a central and objective source of information about materials (books, software, new technologies and multi-sensory resources) for supporting and encouraging children’s literacy.
Products listed in the guide have been selected by the NLA’s Quality Control panel from materials submitted for review by participating companies and assessed against a number of criteria based on quality and their suitability to the stated learning objectives. Teachers can access the guide to free resources at www.nlaguide.co.uk
At lunch time on the first day we had the pleasure of inviting two school winners to our stand to present them with a range of resources. The schools were both selected at random from the list of visitors who had pre registered for the show’s transport scheme run by BESA.
The first winner, Kevin Eveleigh, of Barnby Road Academy Primary and Nursery school is headbteacher of the first primary academy under the government’s new academy scheme. He commented: “We closed the school for an INSET day and bought all 32 teachers to this brilliant show. It is a fantastic opportunity to see state of the art resources giving us time to make the right choices. If it’s out there and it’s good, then it will be here at the Education Show.”
Kevin had been to visit TTS Group’s design and technology equipment, First News’ new interactive newspaper for children and furniture from Community Playthings. “We all spend time looking at what is available around the show, then meet up together to discuss what we want to invest in,” explains Kevin.
The second winner, Gillian Powe from Bishop Road primary school, Bristol had also registered for all 30 staff to attend the show. “We attend the free CPD seminars and pick up new ideas throughout the day,” explains Gillian. “Now we have the freedom to make independent decisions, we have a distinct philosophy and only invest in resources that support our contextualised curriculum. The Education Show is the place to come to ensure you are seeing everything that is available and therefore are making the right decisions for your school.”