With careful preparation, BETT can be a thought-provoking and informative day out rather than just a way to get sore feet, believes Jacquie Disney
Training at BETT can mean many things. In its most literal sense, it is the provision of hands-on information and communications technology (ICT) training workshops covering a range of curriculum topics for primary and secondary. And if last year is anything to go by, these will be fully utilised, with places allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and being snapped up quickly.
ICT training is very much on everyone's mind with the introduction of money from the New Opportunities Fund (NOF). The Teacher Training Centre at BETT will let you sample the offerings of the approved NOF training providers. This could be an opportunity that is too good to miss, giving you a chance to meet the various providers and ask some searching questions about how they think they can address the specific needs of your school.
Some see the exhibition itself as an ICT training day, taking the opportunity to get a handle on ICT in education. An increasing number of schools are arranging for their staff to visit the show by the coachload. And this is a quick way to immerse everyone in the full scope and scale of the ICT world. However, for newcomers to BETT, it can also be something of a baptism of fire.
BETT is a remarkable and significant exhibition but it needs to be treated in much the same way as the Internet: if you go there thinking you can just browse you will end up being totally overwhelmed. (As well as having very sore feet.) So heed the old Scouts' motto, and when you go to BETT be prepared:
* set a focus and purpose as a minimum goal of attending;
* look at the seminar programme - this may help you decide which day is best (if you have a choice that is);
* pre-registering is much advised, particularly if you don't like queuing;
* if you can, visit the BETT website (www.educaion-net.co.uk) before going. This will allow you to identify a list of stands offering support in a particular area;
* set yourself a focused trail between stands;
* have a good sleep the night before;
* stick to your goals once there or you too could be overwhelmed;
* be selective about the literature you pick up. It will only weigh you down and much of it could end up in the bin when you get back.
Follow this advice and at the end of it all you have a fighting chance of achieving what you set out to do (although you'll probably still end up with sore feet).
On a slightly different aspect of training, I'm pleased to say that the Parents Information Network (PIN) also has something to offer. An increasing number of schools are looking for ways to support parents and a growing area of interest is inevitably ICT. It is heartening to see the level of commitment some schools are making to parents and the amount of time and effort taken to provide hands-on training.
In an effort to support this area, PIN is developing pre-designed workshop materials, which teachers can use as the basis for ICT workshops with parents. In this way we can avoid hundreds of teachers all over the country expending similar levels of energy to develop similar activities. We are also very aware that many teachers will also need help to provide this support, and our materials include very structured guidance for teachers.
We are currently in the trialling process with these workshops but, if your school is interested, add us to your list and take advantage of our home-school trail for the exhibition as a whole.
PIN Stand: L44 Jacquie Disney worked as a teacher and ICT advisory teacher. She is the director of PIN (Parents Information Network), which has its own website (holding its software recommendations) www.pin-parents.com as well as an area on The TES Learnfree website www.learnfree.co.uk. Email her at email@example.com