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Not just a show, it's a festival

As everyone awaits the Education Minister's pronouncements this autumn on the outcome of the curriculum review, one thing is certain: whatever sector you teach in, computer technology will encroach on your job. Whether you want help assessing children in class or compiling your 35 hours of professional development, there are programs for you.

There is no getting away from ICT. The difficulty is keeping track of what resources are around. Developments move so fast - which is why the Scottish Executive and Learning and Teaching Scotland have invested millions of pounds to give teachers wrap-around support that culminates once a year in the Scottish Education and Teaching with Technology conference and exhibition in Glasgow.

With the Scottish Schools Digital Network only a year from fruition - it is scheduled to come online in August 2005 - you can get a taste already of how it will help teachers and parents. Look up the Learning and Teaching Scotland website and at the centre of the screen there is one simple line, "Find resources for learning and teaching". Click on "Go" and a drop menu directs you to wherever your needs may lie: 34 specialist websites, each packed with resources and case studies from classroom teachers.

Professor John MacBeath, one of the main speakers at this year's show, reminds us (page X) of Marshall McLuhan's famous quote from 40 years ago, "the medium is the message". In the earliest days of television, the BBC chose for its motto "Nation shall speak peace unto nation". How true that has proved and how it has evolved in these days of digital technology to embrace the smallest of islands and individual schools is brilliantly illustrated by Anderson High in Shetland, where children get up early to study maths with a teacher in Japan or German with a school in Diepholz (page IX). The depute head at Anderson, Stewart Hay, sums it up: "I often wonder about the purpose of being a teacher and I think one of the most important things is to make sense of the world we live in. I think this helps."

The Scottish Executive thinks it helps, the General Teaching Council for Scotland thinks it helps. So do the Educational Institute for Scotland, the Scottish Qualifications Authority and TES Scotland, which is why we are all sponsors of what is now the biggest single event for Scottish teachers in the education calendar.

Almost 3,500 teachers attended last year; around 4,500 are expected next week. With extensions for SETT 2004, including a two-day science programme at the Glasgow Science Centre (see page III), a day-long programme on leadership for education heads and a hall dedicated to early years, this has turned into what the organisers wanted - not just an technology show but a whole Scottish Learning Festival.

Gillian Macdonald Editor of SETT preview SETT 2004 is organised by Learning and Teaching Scotland and Emap Education. To book free seminar tickets, tel 0870 366 7096

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