Place your Betts

Rebecca Paddick took a trip to the ExCel London, where this year’s Bett show celebrated its 30th anniversary

The UK’s biggest education and learning technology event opened its doors for another year in January. Attracting a record number of visitors (nearly 36,000) over four days, Bett 2014 had more content than ever before, with a jam-packed arena programme, three CPD-accredited summits, six Learn Live theatres and a whole host of networking and fringe activity.

Speaking at the show, Dominic Savage, director general of the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) said the four-day event and awards evening “brings the industry together”.

“We try to keep the show expanding in-line with the growth of industry, so I think it is inevitable that the show will be even bigger next year,” he added.

Savage also mentioned that Bett’s growing international presence played an important part this year. “The show aims to be reflective of the global move of education technology. Inviting the international companies along gives them and the UK-based firms a chance to talk all things industry.”

This year, the edtech industry’s leaders, including more than 700 exhibitors, came together to showcase their latest products and discuss key themes which are making waves throughout the sector, and top of this year’s agenda was the impending computing curriculum.

Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove opened the show on the Wednesday. In his keynote speech he said that the curriculum, which will be taught in UK primary schools from September this year, was built “from the bottom up” by academics because government departments would not be able to keep up with the rapid pace of technology.

He added: “Nothing has a shorter life span than the cutting edge. How can departments regulate policy if they can’t keep up with such speed.”

Gove also explained how the new curriculum will work. “From five, children will learn to code and programme,” he said, “with algorithms, sequencing, selection and repetition; from 11, how to use at least two programming languages to solve computational problems; to design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behavior of real-world problems and physical systems; and how instructions are stored and executed within a computer system.

“These are precisely the sort of skills which the jobs of the future – and, for that matter, the jobs of the present – demand. From now on, our reforms will ensure that every child gets a solid grounding in these essential skills – giving them the best possible start to their future.”

Sir Bob Geldof also made an appearance on the first day of the show. Best known for the 1985 Live Aid and 2005 Live 8 concerts, and as a rock star with the Boomtown Rats, Sir Bob co-founded Groupcall, a communications and data solutions company in 2001. Speaking from the Groupcall stand, Sir Bob discussed the dangers of living and working in a digital world. “People talk about inequality in terms of income but there is a far more dangerous inequality for the future, and that is technology. If nations don’t have the knowledge and the technical capacity for innovation, then they lose their edge.” You can watch a full interview with Sir Bob on the Independent Education Today website (

The summits and seminars at BETT are always a big draw, and this year’s line-up was no exception. The School Leaders Summit was a forum for discussion and an expert perspective on how schools can best ready themselves for change. Educators who have been recognised for their outstanding practice presented inspiring case studies to motivate their peers and stimulated dialogue on how to promote excellence in education.

“Bett is one of the few events that provides content free of charge, and we still believe that this is the key to the show’s success,” said Debbie French, education portfolio director at Bett organisers i2i Events Group. “As in previous years at Bett, we worked with partners including Naace, nasen and BESA, and also with teachers, leading enterprise professionals and education thought-leaders to create CPD that would resonate with all of our visitors.

“It is the enthusiasm and dedication of the people it represents that have made Bett such a unique show. Our visitor’s commitment to advising and inspiring their peers, along with our exhibitors’ dedication to providing the best possible solutions to support learning and development, is what makes the show a success year after year. The figures confirmed 2014 as the show’s most successful year to date, reflecting its continued importance within the education sector.”

Not only did this year’s Bett bring the education community together, it also unveiled the latest and best learning technology transforming education in the UK and beyond.

Bett is held every January at ExCeL London. Bett 2015 will take place between 22-25 January. Visit for more information.


Bett Awards entries up by a quarter

Comedian Jo Brand announced the winners of the 16th annual Bett awards at The Brewery, London. The awards recognise outstanding education sector resources, learning solutions and companies. The judges, who are all educational professionals, focus on what works in the classroom or the school setting in terms of design, cost-effectiveness, support of higher order thinking skills and effective learning and teaching styles. 

And the winners are …

Early Years Digital Content: Rising Stars – Switched on ICT in the Early Years

Primary Digital Content: Twig World – Tigtag

Secondary Digital Content: Mathspace UK Ltd – Mathspace

ICT Tools for Learning and Teaching: IGGY – University of Warwick

Digital Collections and Resource Banks: London Grid for Learning – The History of Computing

ICT Special Educational Needs Solutions: Inclusive Technology Ltd/HelpKidzLearn – ChooseIt! Maker 3

Digital Devices: Fourier Education – einsteinTablet+

ICT Leadership and Management Solutions: 2Simple Software – 2Build a Profile

Innovation in ICT: TeacherCentric Ltd – Show My Homework

ICT Exporter of the Year: Promethean Ltd

International Digital Education Resource: Little Bridge World – Little Bridge

ICT Services and Support: Groupcall Ltd

ICT Company of the Year – less than £1m turnover: Room Booking System Ltd

ICT Company of the Year – between £1m-£10m turnover: 3P Learning

ICT Company of the Year – over £10m turnover: Espresso Education

Free Digital Content/Open Educational Resources: Microsoft – Kodu

Marketing Campaign of the Year: Oxford University Press – Oxford Owl Campaign

Educational Apps: Daydream Education – Multiplication App

Bett Exhibition Stand of the Year 2014: Education City

Outstanding Achievement in ICT Education: Lewis Bronze, Espresso Education

Caroline Wright, director of BESA, the sector’s trade association, said: “The quality of entries for this year’s awards has been outstanding. It is hugely exciting to see such an excellent range of products and services on offer to schools, especially with the introduction of the new National Curriculum in September this year.

“The winners’ products and services ensure that the UK ICT industry continues to be recognised as the best in the world. The quality of these learning resources is a testament to businesses operating within the UK education sector.”