The Education Show took place from 16-18 March at the NEC Birmingham and enabled everyone involved in education to come together and share ideas and innovative practices
The education sector is always evolving, and in turn, so are the challenges faced by schools, leaders, teachers and pupils.
It’s therefore no surprise that schools and their staff are continually searching for guidance, insight and resources to help them address these challenges in and around the classroom.
Year-on-year, The Education Show has been the must-see event for everyone involved in education, providing a platform for teachers, school leaders, suppliers and experts to come together and share ideas and innovative practices.
The 2017 show that took place at the NEC Birmingham from 16-18 March proved no different. As always, there was a wide range of exciting opportunities to get involved with, whether it was testing the latest and greatest classroom resources, or attending one of the many free continuing professional development (CPD) sessions available throughout the event.
This year’s theme celebrated creativity in the classroom, and with the huge amount of information and content on offer, it’s no doubt that the event attracted a vast number of visitors looking to revive their enthusiasm and spark new ideas for innovative teaching.
Here, we take a look at some of the highlights from this year’s show.
The Central Feature theatre played host to a number of incredible speakers.
On the Thursday, former principal dancer for the Royal Ballet, and judge for the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, Darcey Bussell CBE, gave a speech about the benefits of dance fitness and the importance of physical literacy in schools, and respected educator Toby Young took the stage to discuss the future of education reform.
School leaders also gained advice and insight from Roehampton University’s principle lecturer in computing education, Miles Berry, as he discussed assessment, specifically linked to computing. His session explored the challenges currently facing leaders relating to assessment skills, knowledge and understanding with computing.
Renowned children’s author, Michael Rosen, also appeared at the show on the Saturday, presenting a very well-attended discussion on the role of arts and poetry in education in the Early Years and SEN Theatre. Teachers took to Twitter to share their appreciation, with one stating that it was an “honour” to listen to his talk, and many others expressing how inspired they had been by his thoughts. His overarching question of “who owns literacy?” was met with the resounding answer of “we all do!”.
Making the best of training
Of course, keynote speeches were not the only source of inspiration at this year’s show. One of the most cited reasons for attending the show was the access to a wide range of CPD opportunities, including leadership and management, teaching and learning, special educational needs (SEN) and more.
One such CPD session was run by consultants Joy Beaney and Kay Al Ghani, who encouraged visitors to change attitudes around autism in their schools by promoting peer awareness. The session ran through how schools can create Autism Champions, by essentially teaching groups of student volunteers about the ins and outs of autism, as well as how they can support their peers both in the classroom and in the playground.
Of course, while developing support networks for children of any background is important, it’s also critical that this is not neglected for staff members. In his session, ‘Managing mental health – a resilience toolkit’, Robert Whitelock of Garforth Academy revealed the shocking figure that 25 per cent of school staff are susceptible to mental health problems.
As a former headteacher and a National Leader of Education in 2009, Andy Buck offered valuable advice on improving educational outcomes for pupils by supporting great leadership development. He discussed the benefits of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, where students are challenged to demonstrate community service and personal development, as well as taking part in outdoor expeditions, and how these could be applied to various other areas of education.
One of the favourite quotes from the session was: “I’ve found that the determination you need to complete the expeditions can be applied to exam revision”.
Magali Ellis, head of Trinity School, took to the stage in the Early Years and SEN Theatre to talk to visitors about her insights into the alternatives in teaching Modern Foreign Languages (MFL). During her session, she explained the most effective way to teach MFL in primary schools, and covered areas including ‘how frequent and how long the lessons need to be’, ‘which teaching method to choose’ and ‘how to untangle the complexity of setting up your language provision’.
With literacy at the heart of government standards, Michelle Larbey was invited to host a seminar in the Early Years and SEN Theatre.
In the session, she demonstrated just how phonics can be taught in a fun and memorable way through the use of real books. She highlighted the importance of a multi-sensory approach in order to help make lessons more exciting and appealing to the whole class, ensuring every type of learner is included and engaged.
The critical issue of staff recruitment was addressed in Mark Robinson’s session. The founder of FindEd considered the fact that schools are currently paying recruitment agencies between £1,000 and £10,000 per role when it comes to finding new staff members.
Visitors were given some invaluable insight on how to avoid these costly procedures and to find the best possible staff members for their schools.
Another session that proved popular was Nasir Quershi’s CPD talk on overcoming the challenges for KS2 SATs. The director of SATs Companion covered the key issues that teachers face when it comes to new assessments including: curriculum coverage, differentiation, saving time and money, and gap analysis.
He also spent time offering advice on how to ensure children obtain a full and rounded understanding of each topic, which in turn, helps to build their confidence in their ability to be masters of their own learning.
Around and about at the show
This year, the show floor was host to a number of colourful characters, including William the Maths Bear from Conquer Maths, The Phonics Fairy and the fearful Dalek guarding the BBC Teach stand, as well as the super-talented dogs of Canine Partners.
Another stand-out feature was the bright yellow Betty Bus, home of the Betty Collective, a company that supports young girls in dealing with the pressure of growing up. Fresh Start Education also drew visitors with its inspiration wall, asking people to write about who and what inspires them, with one answer stating: “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, we must teach the way we learn”.
The range of exhibitors at this year’s show was, once again, filled with exciting innovations and interesting ideas. Stand N70 showcased the innovative OhBot, a robotic head that can be programmed to speak and perform facial expressions, and on stand F36, the Girlguiding Activity Centres stand offered young visitors the chance to have a go on their Treadwall, a motorised climbing wall.
Elsewhere, the internationally acclaimed dance company, BalletBoyz demonstrated its PE and GCSE dance resource, MoovBank, which provides a digital toolkit for teachers to deliver high‑quality and inspiring dance lessons.
Security and safeguarding were also focus points at this year’s show, with several exhibitors looking to improve schools’ provision when it comes to online safety. Launched in January, Smoothwall’s Visigo monitoring solution was presented on stand G81; the proactive software monitors keystrokes to detect unsuitable behaviour both online and offline, meaning that schools can intervene when students are potentially creating inappropriate content.
In addition to The Education Show, this year, Bett Academies was also launched with the aim of providing the best advice and guidance for academies, MATs and schools considering academisation.
What did the teachers think?
The three-day event allowed school leadership teams and teachers from across the UK to discover new ideas, test resources and products, and build on existing knowledge through the CPD programmes on offer.
Visitor feedback was incredibly positive, with one group of teachers from Whitley Academy, Coventry, who said: “We have come to find new ideas and we’ve certainly found many”.
Lisa Freeman, a teaching assistant from Heronswood Primary School in Kidderminster, also commented: “It was great to see all the new innovations in education and I found that every area of education was covered. I’ve got some great ideas to take back to the classroom”.
Each year, thousands of education professionals gather to test and compare the latest resources, discuss policy and practice, and form vital collaborative links with their peers.
What is interesting when you speak to visitors, is that chatting with other teachers and educators at the show was actually the most valuable benefit. On top of all the other things on offer at The Education Show, striking up a conversation with others, sharing ideas and experiences was often the most valuable part of the day.
The Education Show is an annual event held in March at NEC Birmingham. The Education Show 2018 will take place from 15 to 17 March 2018.