BETT 2011 will come with a very different perspective on the education sector than they did at the 2010 event. With every new government we expect changes, but I do not believe any of us anticipated the extent to which our education sector would change. A true appraisal of the changes is difficult as many questions have yet to be answered. We can only interpret the information we have been given as best we can.
So what has changed and what does it mean for visitors to BETT 2011?
Policy During the first round of funding cuts that were announced by the chancellor in June, the Department for Education was told to reduce departmental budget spending by 25 per cent. Some of the areas affected by this initial decision include quangos, such as Becta, the government’s department responsible for ICT in schools, and the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency. Visitors to BETT had grown used to
the Policy in Practice area in the National Hall, where all the government agencies collaborated to provide visitors with policy-related information. However, many exhibitors, including NAACE, the professional association for those concerned with advancing education through ICT (stand J42), will still be in this area at the show.
Building Schools for the Future
Last year, the Future Learning Spaces area brought together all those involved in delivering schools of the future – including local authorities, ICT suppliers and framework advisors – to showcase innovative virtual environments. In early July, schools received the
devastating news that the Building Schools for the Future programme (BSF) was to be scrapped. However, the concept of schools of the future is still very much alive. Approximately 500 BSF building projects already under way are expected to be completed, and the recent spending review promised that £15.8 billion would be provided “to maintain the school estate and rebuild and refurbish 600 schools”. Free schools and the new academies should also attract visitors to the Future Learning Spaces area in the National Hall Gallery.
SecEd • 5to7 Educator
The year that was W
A year on from the last BETT Show, Ray Barker looks at the changing face of education
e are all eager to understand how the coalition government’s changes will affect us. Visitors to
School leaders and teachers can gain a
better understanding of the scope of work undertaken by the BSF, academies and free schools programmes by talking to education, ICT and design specialists.
One comment that resonates though all recent government announcements is that the future appears to be a picture of more autonomy for headteachers. This freedom indicates that all educators
and especially school leaders will visit BETT 2011 to ensure they are investing wisely in the resources to suit their specific needs. In terms of current spending, BESA has
watched the market closely over the past few years and noticed the increasing trend for schools to hold back on investing in new products and resources due to the anticipated BSF refurbishment or rebuild. Since the demise of BSF we expect to see schools resume their investments. Coupled with the recent Comprehensive Spending Review which appears to show that the education sector fared better than many sectors, we expect a highly active show.
A significant area of BETT for many years has been the SEN area in the Grand Hall. Although many exhibitors across the show floor provide resources to support SEN, those companies devoted to a specific need come together in the SEN Zone.
Speaking at an Every Disabled Child
Matters event in early July, children’s minister Sarah Teather outlined the government’s commitment to make sure that “the most vulnerable children get the best quality of support and care”, and have the same opportunities as their peers. However, although it was announced that
there would be “personalised budgets for SEN” there appears to be no mention of reform nor budget to support it unless this is planned to sit within the £2.5 billion Pupil Premium budget for disadvantaged children.
Visitors may also want to consider resources for iGCSE qualifications. At secondary level, the government has lifted restrictions that prevented state schools from offering iGCSE qualifications, which have been taught by independent schools for several years.
Answering your questions
We all still have many questions to ask about what the future of education will look like and there is no better place to ask questions and gather guidance and advice than at BETT. We at the British Educational Suppliers Association look forward to meeting you at the show, where we shall be hosting the Information Point (stand D46) near to the main entrance in the Grand Hall.
• Ray Barker is director of the British Educational Suppliers Association.
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