"Many of the publishers' reps come round the schools, showing us a selection of their books," said Stephanie McKillop, headteacher of Springfield primary in Glasgow, "but this exhibition gives us a chance to see their whole range." She and her colleague, who were looking for materials to help with writing, had just spent pound;100 on books from PrimEd on language and maths, and were thinking of returning the next day.
Liz McSheffrey, headteacher of Holmlea primary, was clearly enjoying getting her hands on children's play equipment, but was principally on a quest for science materials. "Our primary cluster has been working on environmental studies this year, and we're looking for science materials. We're interested in Naturtrek - we've go so many gaps to fill - and we've bought bargain books down from pound;8 to pound;5, part of a topic series on transport, clothes, materials, the town, the village. We didn't know Naturetrek before."
The overall view was that Glasgow's Celtic Park was a better venue for this size of show - around 80 exhibitors - than the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre. It was easy to get to - at least for teachers from the old Strathclyde region - and more comfortable. And although the exhibition was organised by the London-based Educational Publishers Council (in association with SAPER and TES Scotland), the combination of books and resources was appreciated.
Key equipment suppliers were there, such as Hope Education, NES Arnold and Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation, unknown to some visitors. And smaller companies like J amd M Toys had loads of play equipment and dressing up costumes, while Heart of England Sewing Machines (which seemed something of a misnomer) had a magnificent spread of multicultural textiles, hangings and cushion covers.
ICT was there too, with the Scottish Council for Educational Technology displaying its CD-Roms for life skills and Higher Still, and NTS Computer ystems letting eager teachers get their hands on the elegant little DreamWriter laptop.
The major publishers were prominent, with extended stands to accommodate their range, such as OUP with the ubiquitous Oxford Reading Tree, Ginn with All Aboard, and Heinemann with its well-used maths scheme for primary.
Nelson not only exhibited at the show but also picked up a commendation at the TES ScotlandSaltire Society award ceremony for this year's best materials for the Scottish curriculum. Co-authors Joyce Thomson from Galashiels Academy and Ruth Murray from Hawick High were congratulated on their Maths in Action books for Higher Still at Intermediate 1 and 2 levels. Scottish Enterprise collected its commendation for its ringbinder Get into Enterprise, and OUP for A History of Scotland in Modern Times.
The winner was Orion publishers for its cartoon approach to The History of Scotland which would be enjoyed by mid primary to early secondary and beyond. Unusually, Hodder and Stoughton did not pick up an award this year, but its stand revealed its considerable contribution to the Scottish curriculum.
Other key Scottish companies were there, such as Collins with its new Scottish history series and Glowworm with a range from children's books to John Murray's Primary Science 5-14.
It was good to see education authorities displaying to an audience beyond their borders their growing range of professional packages, in particular, North Lanarkshire's Another Look at Reading and Positive Steps to Literacy, and Glasgow's Modern Languages in Primary Schools 2 and Action against Abuse. Primary adviser Iain MacDonald says Glasgow and Edinburgh are discussing joint publications on early intervention, words and numbers.
It was also interesting to hear that non-Scottish publishers, like the Australian PrimEd, which produces books across the primary curriculum, for the US, Canada, Ireland, England and Wales, are focusing on Scotland. PrimEd's UK sales manager, Dave Garner, says it is rewriting up to two thirds of pages for Scottish curriculum. Books on history, maths and values education are due out this year.