BETT: The phenomenon continues

Caroline Wright, Director of the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), gives her take on this year’s show

Bett is virtually unique in its continual success and growth year on year; few shows have this characteristic. So what is it about Bett that causes this phenomenon? 

From speaking to visitors, it is about the insight and learning that they receive from the show. As Steve Wheeler, lecturer at Plymouth University succinctly said: “Bett is for the people.” The common statement iterated by so many visitors is that they come to Bett to gain experience, speak to other educators, share ideas, and leave ‘topped up’ with inspiration for the year ahead. 

The quality of the seminar programme also has a lot to do with the increasing success of the event. Speakers this year ranged from visionaries such as Sir Ken Robinson,outlining his view that many countries are pushing reforms in the wrong direction, to practical sessions for the day-to-day by people such as Robert Mullins, co-founder, Raspberry Pi and Bill Liao, co-founder CoderDojo, who discussed the state of computer science a year on from Gove’s announcement of an overhaul of ICT teaching in schools. Where else can educators spend one day sourcing such invaluable information and ideas? 

However, it is not just the seminar programme that offers this level of inspiration. The exhibitors are also worthy of praise for the insightful conversations they have with visitors; selling is not their foremost objective. Instead, they focus on offering advice and having quality conversations with their audience.

We are often asked what they key themes of Bett are. Each year there are broad, popular areas of interest; this year emerging classroom technologies attracting attention included augmented reality, wearable technology and technology to support MOOCS. However, members of the Bett community also tend to come each year for the more practical knowledge and to see the resources available to help them in their daily work. Whether this is about primary school teachers looking for assessment systems, tools to engage students in the new computing curriculum, or secondary teachers looking for eBooks designed to excite their reluctant readers, Bett offers something for everyone. From our position on the BESA Information Point, it was the sense of positivity that I noticed this year that made a lasting impression.

This was particular apparent in one of the most exciting areas of Bett 2015: Bett Futures. Tucked away in a corner of the show floor yet always vibrant and busy, this feature played host to some of the world’s most inspiring edtech start-ups. The 30 start-ups with the most relevant solutions to today’s classroom challenges were selected by an expert panel of educators, to be showcased in this exciting area. The feature was packed full throughout the event and feedback from the start-ups suggested that this was the making of them! 

Commonly, these small organisations who have inspirational solutions to daily classroom challenges grow to become our large tech companies of the future. If you didn’t get a chance to visit the area this year, I strongly recommend you do so next year.

So another year is over but the incredible power of Bett will be back from 27to the 30 January, 2016. We look forward to seeing you there.

UPCOMING WEBINAR

Why education must take IT security more seriously

Tuesday, November 30, 11AM (GMT)