Colin Elliott previews this month's Design and Technology Education Exhibition at Birmingham's NEC. Initiatives of various kinds in recent years have been directed towards encouraging more girls to pursue science and technology subjects, notably the WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) bus programme, backed by the Engineering Council.
At this year's Design and Technology Education Exhibition, in the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, the girls have not only accepted technology but are bidding to take over.
For the first time in the event's 17-year history (it began when woodwork and cookery still firmly demarcated the sexes) a girls-only school will be putting on the focal demonstration of secondary level work. Girls have taken part before, as part of a mixed team, but this year there will be not a boy in sight.
The girls are from Selly Park School, Birmingham, which did not even have a saw or a chisel two years ago, but now has a Pounds 900,000 technology block with a computer controlled lathes and millers.
While the girls of Selly Park are showing off their skills to visiting teachers (the show is confined to professional visitors) the school's deputy head, Mel Tennant, and colleagues will conduct seminars on the role played by the technology enhancement programme in shaking up the traditional curriculum of Selly Park. This will be one of the three dozen seminar and lecture sessions available to teachers (free of charge and without advance booking) during the course of the exhibition, which is expected to attract more than 10,000 visitors. Another will be run by Beverley Ledra, headteacher at Frizinghall First School (see above), the only first school invited to the show.
The number of seminars has been increased by 50 per cent this year, with many teachers being able to count participation in them as an in-service training day.
The highlight is the Maurice Brown Memorial Lecture on Thursday evening, being given this year by Bob Welch, technology inspector for Berkshire. His theme is "Teaching Technology in a Changing World" which will examine the shape of the subject post-Dearing.
The show has more than 200 exhibitors, who include manufacturers and suppliers of material, equipment, machines and computers, publishers of books and software, blue-chip companies, trade and industry organisations with resource material to give away and universities making their courses known.
o The dates of the exhibition are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, November 10 to 12, 9.30am to 5.30pm. Admission and car parking are free.
For further information, including pre-registration and subsidised group travel arrangements, contact the organiser, ICHF Ltd. Tel: 0425 272711, fax: 0425 279369.