This year's BETT seminar programme, the ninth, spreads the focus across curriculum subjects and teacher training. This is because many visitors are classroom teachers, rather than IT co-ordinators, while some will be attending the show with the sole purpose of choosing a training provider. Last year it attracted over 6,000, with audiences of 300 coming to see the keynote speakers.
The seminar programme comprises keynote lectures, information sessions and workshops at an on-site, computer-equipped training centre. Most seminars are aimed at subject teachers seeking practical demonstrations and advice.
"In the past, the programme has been largely about ICT, but this year the seminars look at the whole curriculum," says programme organiser Barbara Brooks. "We have tried to cover as many subjects as we can, and made the seminars very easy to understand. We want to get to the people who actually work in the schools, so teachers go away thinking they have learnt something they can use in the classroom."
The 62 sessions expand on last year's programme, with an extra theatre set up to house them. ICT and special needs receive most attention on the first two days. Other main themes are FE on Wednesday, a management strand on Thursday, with broader curriculum subjects kicking in on Friday and Saturday.
Seminars will be delivered by representatives of teacher associations, subject teacher associations and government departments - "people who are in touch with schools themselves", says Brooks.
For the first time at BETT, there are seminars on early years, primary maths, and English as a foreign language. The EFLESOL talk (Saturday, January 15, 2.45pm, Theatre C) looks at how language learners can be taught through word processors, spreadsheets, email and the Web. On the same day (12.45pm, Theatre A) the British Computer Society outlines ICT strategies for teachers and adult helpers in nursery and infant education.
However, some main subjects are notably missing, such as business studies, art, and design and technology. According to the organisers, this is because these were the least popular topics at previous shows. Kevin Glassar, teacher in charge at Christopher Hatton Primary School, London, attended a special needs seminar last year. "The content was stimulating and the quality was rather good," he says. "Some of it wasn't really what I was after, but then other parts were spot-on."
Each day commences with a keynote lecture on specifc issues in educational computing and technology. After the opening ceremony, Christina Preston of MirandaNet presents "Teachers as Learning Innovators". The TES keynote lecture, held on the second day, sees Niel McLean acclaim the role of teaching in "Putting the teacher at the heart of ICT developments". On Friday, Lord Dennis Stevenson assesses the influence of The Stevenson Report over the last three years, while on the final day Doug Brown looks at the learning futures of ICT.
There are also many opportunities at the show for elaborating on the pound;230 million New Opportunities Fund (NOF) ICT training allocation. Gillian Langford, professional officer of the Teacher Training Agency, will deliver a seminar on "Best Practice and the Realities of ICT training" (Thursday, January 13, 12.45pm, Theatre A).
"Lots of schools are aware of the NOF training initiative, but individual classroom teachers and librarians are not as aware as they should be," says Langford. "They need to know the aims of the initiative, how it will be implemented and what will be happening to the teachers themselves."
For a more hands-on experience, teachers can participate in demonstration sessions at the ICT Teacher Training Centre. Two theatres will be set up to hold over 40 workshops, enabling teachers to sample approved training packages.
The 40-minute sessions will also cover more general topics such as using databases in the classroom, video-supported teaching, and the training needs of librarians. Training providers will be able to discuss your school's needs and budgets, allowing the chance to compare packages on the spot. Keep in mind, however, that these staff are salespeople with commercial interests at heart.
All workshops are free and no bookings are accepted. People who miss out on a unit can watch the presentation on a large screen. For the seminars, however, pre-registration is recommended to guarantee a seat.
For bookings after December 1, an administration fee is charged - pound;23.50 for one seminar; pound;11.75 for any extra seminars. This includes entry to the show on completion of a seminar booking form. At the start of each day, any remaining seats will be offered free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Be warned: several turned up last year to find no spaces left.
Seminar ticket desk Stand: H80 Ticket hotline Tel: 01203 426 458 Online booking www.education-net.co.uk Seminar fax: 09003 423 440 (calls cost 60p per minute)