One of the biggest talking points in education is Mike Tomlinson's proposed 14-19 reforms which could result in the abolition of the existing exam system in England. The report is still at the interim stage but, if adopted, will change the landscape of secondary education.
There has already been a lot of comment about the report, but visitors to this year's Education Show can hear the details straight from the source when Mr Tomlinson, the former Chief Inspector of Schools, gives a speech on the opening day.
Other main speakers include David Bell, Mr Tomlinson's successor, who will be looking at assessment on Friday, and Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, who will be revealing more about overhaul in the inspection system on the first day.
The show isn't just about high-profile speakers; it's an event that covers all the bases. As well as being the place to see the policy makers, it offers opportunities for professional development with free seminars providing ideas and advice for many areas of school life. It's the place to keep abreast of the latest teaching resources and pick up practical ideas from workshops.
It's been a tough year financially for schools, but attending the show is an astute way of making the most of the money you have. Companies run special offers for visitors who buy on the day. With more than 600 exhibitors in one place, those who like to drive a hard bargain can compare prices easily.
Visitors unsure about the best way to spend their eLearning Credits should visit the Curriculum Software Advice Centre. It will be run by Teachers Evaluating Educational Multimedia (Teem), an independent organisation that evaluates educational software. Teachers who have been involved in the evaluation will be on hand to provide guidance on picking the right software suite for your classroom.
For the first time at the show, teachers will be able to talk to the commissioning editors of TESTeacher magazine to discuss features they would like to see covered. The editors will be Gallery Hospitality Suite 18 on Thursday and Friday.
As usual, there's a wide ranging seminar programme with subjects covered including school leadership, integrating classroom assistants, innovation and change, and ICT management. Seminars cost pound;10 for the first session and pound;5 for additional sessions. There is a pound;1 discount for booking online and unsold tickets are available free on the day of the show.
Other highlights include the free Creativity in Practice workshops held daily in the Art Zone, the Ultimate Book Guide in the Publishing Village where children's authors discuss ways to turn pupils on to reading, and live demonstrations of activities including golf, hockey and Tchoukball.
The Education Show 2004, runs next Thursday to Saturday (March 11 to 13) in Halls 10, 11 and 12 at the NEC in Birmingham. For full details on speakers, seminars, special events, exhibitors and travel information, go to the website at www.education-show.com. For a registration form for quick entry, call 0870 429 4580.