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An instant hit and still drawing in the crowds

The Education Show goes from strength to strength, writes Dominic Savage, chief executive of the British Educational Suppliers Association.

The Education Show fulfilled a promise by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) to government ministers in the run up to the 1988 Education Reform Act. The then Education and Science Secretary Kenneth Baker's team wanted the association to provide an event which would support both the development of local management of schools and the proposed national curriculum.

Our remit was to offer an exhibition where the best books, equipment and other resources would be on show in a pressure-free environment, to help teachers in their first steps in spending delegated budgets. (I suspect it is now hard for most heads to remember when they didn't have budgetary control.) With the introduction of the national curriculum there was a pressing need for schools to understand the curriculum orders, revise their approach to particular subjects and ensure the right resources were available in the classroom. The Education Show was there to deliver a full range of resources and a broad range of practical seminars.

The BESA partnered with Emap Education, with whom we already co-organised the British Educational Training and Technology event, and launched the Education Show in 1991 - just as the majority of schools were facing up to changes in local management and the national curriculum.

There is nothing like an instant success - and we had it with this event! And the show has grown consistently in size, visitor numbers and visitor satisfaction every year.

In 1991 it was almost the antidote to the BETT show as there was virtually no sign of any information and communications technology. This year the show has an extensive ICT and multimedia arena, with a demonstration area where software evaluators from the Teachers Evaluating Educational Multimedia (TEEM) project will give practical sessions about choosing and using software. If you are among the 55 per cent of teachers who do not feel confident and competent using ICT in the classroom, this is just what you need to help address the requirements of the revised national curriculum.

Right from he start the Education Show has been noted for its range of book displays. We can proudly boast that the event is the largest gathering of educational publishers in the United Kingdom. This year publishers have been working hard to have their new titles for the revised curriculum ready to launch at the show.

The event now fills three halls at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. To help you find what you want to see with minimal difficulty, we have a range of printed guides for specialist areas, an example being the furniture trail.

A major development this year is the extensive zoning of the show so that similar exhibitors are grouped together. So, apart from the ICT arena, there is the Special Needs Village, the School Journeys Centre, the Publishing Village, the Early Years Centre, the Management Zone, the Association Village, the Physical Education Zone and the Creative Arts Zone. The latter brings together suppliers of art and crafts products, based around a Creativity in Practice workshop area where demonstrations will run during the show.

Seminars, keynote addresses from major speakers, including Ted Wragg and Tim Brighouse, workshops and on-stand presentations are part of the training mix that enhances the value of the show. Every teacher likes to question the Department for Education and Employment, the Teacher Training Agency, the British Education Communications and Technology Agency, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the Office for Standards in Education. The good news is they each have a stand, with staff on hand to answer queries. There is also the show information service, which is primarily based on the BESA stand.

Perhaps it is because the show offers something for everyone that it is so popular. Our plea is that you make use of it - it could be your best in-service training day of the year.

BESA stand G10

BESA offers coach and minibus subsidies every year and even now you might just be in time to arrange support. Contact Claire Meredith at Emap, tel 020 7874 0200; e-mail

Education Show

For details of all the show exhibitors and seminars, visit the show website

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