All the fun of the fair
The crowds converging on Celtic Park on Wednesday and Thursday next week will not be the usual multitude of football fans come to cheer their team's increasingly uphill struggles to win the league. Instead they will be a rather smaller but no less enthusiastic collection of teachers attending Educational Resources 2000, the first exhibition of its kind to be mounted in Scotland.
The aim of the show, organised by the Educational Publishers Council in association with SAPER and TES Scotland, is to bring the best of books and learning resources from all over Britain to the attention of Scottish primary and secondary schoolteachers. There will also be a series of seminars by invited speakers on subjects of interest and practical value to the teaching profession.
More than 75 companies have reserved stands at the exhibition including large publishers such as Cambridge University Press, Collins, Heinemann, Hodder and Stoughton, Longman, NES Arnold, Oxford University Press and Walker Books, as well as many smaller concerns - not to mention a wide variety of suppliers of educational equipment, games and unusual resources.
Two-thirds of the exhibitors will be travelling from England to display their wares, many of which will be new to Scottish teachers. And although one or two organisations appear to be on fact-finding missions, most are well aware of the differences in the educational systems. Some, like Hodder and Stoughton, already produce material specifically for the Scottish curriculum, while others claim to have studied it closely to ensure their materials match the requirements.
Exhibitors based in Scotland include North Lanarkshire Council, which produces teaching materials across the curriculum with an established track-record of raising attainment; Glowworm Books, the children's publisher which has just launched a new bookclub featuring Scottish authors; Rude Mechanicals, a small company of ex-teachers who supply materials to develop the skills needed for design and technology; the Scottish Council for Educational Technology, which provides quality computer-based material and training courses, including a new online learning environment SCETPioneer (see page 8); and Teejay Publishers which specialses in photocopiable support material for mathematics, including new courses such as Higher Still.
Many of the resources are aimed at numeracy and literacy, but there will also be material for environmental studies, religious and social education, learning support and pupils with disabilities. More unusual resources can be obtained from companies like EDS Storysack, which makes soft-toy characters from stories to help bring them to life, Jamp;M Toys which specialises in costumes, hats and accessories for role-playing, and PC Werth, which makes a device that creates a constant soundfield in a classroom so that every word can be heard.
Communication and Learning Skills Centre is a small company run by ex-teachers, which has developed two computer programs to help children of all ages with memory and study skills. "Both are research-based," says Jane Mitchell, "and the latest takes a learning-style approach - visual, auditory or a combination of the two - to improving memory. A good memory is a series of strategies people use unconsciously, and if you explicitly teach them to children they quickly see an improvement."
Hopscotch Educational, also owned and run by ex-teachers, publishes series on numeracy and literacy and has just released two new titles, Growing Up Today and Developing ICT Skills.
"Our special feature is the style of differentiation we provide," says Margot O'Keeffe, "namely the same activity at three different levels. This means every child in a class is working on the same thing at the same time and all can contribute to the plenary session.
"It's not easy finding authors who can do this, but it's worth it because it saves the teacher so much time in planning and preparation."
But the most exotic collection of items can be seen at the stand of Heart of England Sewing Machines, the centrepiece of which will be a full-length Ghanaian chieftain's robe. "I buy textiles from all around the world," says Peter May, "weaving from Guatemala, wood-block printed fabrics from India, batique from Java, Sri Lanka and Brazil, screen-printed fabrics from Kenya and mud-cloths from Mali. And I supply all the bits and pieces as well as the finished textiles, so the children can practise making them, as well as stories from the various cultures to make the lessons memorable."
Educational Resources Scotland 2000 is at Celtic Park on March 29 and 30, admission free. Contact EPC for more details on 020 7565 7474