Bett 2018: Getting the most out of Bett

Written by: Terry Freedman | Published:
Image: Jack Terry Photography

ICT expert and seasoned Bett attendee Terry Freedman offers his tips for how you can get the most out of Bett 2018

It is coming up to that time of year again. That’s right, the Bett Show, a four-day extravaganza, with several conferences, seminars and exhibitions under one roof.

So how can you ensure that you obtain the most benefit from attending?

There are four main aspects to consider: permission, planning, attending and following-up. Let’s look at each of these in turn.


If you have to apply to your senior leadership team to attend conferences and other events, now’s the time to do so. Bett takes place at ExCeL in London at the end of January and so there is no time to lose. So what can you say to your senior leadership team to persuade them to let you go?

If you’re thinking of buying a particular kind of product, Bett is a good place to go in order to very quickly see and compare several products or services that could fit the bill. This will help the school get the best value from the purchase.

Also, if you already have a particular product or service, meeting the supplier at Bett could help to develop a more personal relationship with the company.

Key point: emphasise the benefits to the school of your attendance, not just yourself. If you lead a team of computing teachers, then try and get the go-ahead for them to attend as well.


Keep your eye on the Bett website ( for details of the seminar programmes and also the exhibitors. Rather than go along with the aim of wandering around and hoping for the best, it is much better to have at least some idea of what you are hoping to find out.

For example, are you interested in virtual reality applications? Then make a list of the exhibitors who are involved in VR, and earmark one or two seminars that cover the topic.

By all means build-in time for wandering “aimlessly”, because you never know what delights you may come across, but having even a partial plan means that you will achieve something, whatever happens.

Keep checking the Bett hashtag on Twitter, too. The official one is #Bett2018, but people invent their own, so check-out #Bett18 and other variations too. Follow Bett itself on Twitter @bett_show.

On a practical note, make sure you have a travel card of some sort, because you’ll need it for the buses and Tube in London. Also, especially if you intend going on the Saturday, check the Transport for London website for line closures, as they tend to do engineering works at weekends (


ExCel is a vast cavern of a place (the same size as 13 Olympic-sized swimming pools, apparently), with concrete floors, no sunlight and air conditioning.

Add in a huge crowd, and you begin to detect that without some attention to the basics, you may be in for a pretty tiring day.

So wear comfortable shoes if you can, and make sure you take water with you. Other useful things to take with you are:

  • Business cards, for networking with, giving to suppliers so they can send you information (no sense in lugging it all home), and for entering prize draws.
  • A mini-stapler, so that you can staple your business card to the form that suppliers ask you to fill in (unless they “zap” you with a barcode reader).
  • A phone loaded with a QR code reader, and so you can take photos (of slides in seminars, and exhibition stands as an aide-memoir).

Armed with your plan, then work out an efficient route to see all the exhibitors on your list. Unless you like walking backwards and forwards for hours, it’s better to organise your route by stand number rather than by theme. On that subject, familiarise yourself with the layout of the space. It’s based on a grid system, and is quite logical once you get used to it.

Whatever else is on your list, do make time to visit the Bett Futures area. This is where start-ups or very young companies display their wares, and it’s very refreshing.

Not only are the products quite interesting in themselves as a rule, but chances are you will get to chat to the person who actually created them. That’s a far cry from the usual situation of dealing with large corporations (for more on Bett Futures, see the free SecEd Bett Guide, below).

Following up

Finally, what to do afterwards? One thing to do is share your notes of talks you have attended and products you have seen with colleagues, as appropriate.

If you are a head of computing or similar, convene a meeting with your team to discuss how what you saw and heard at Bett should inform your future planning.

If getting permission to attend was a bit of a struggle, you might consider drafting a brief report for the powers-that-be. If they can see that you have provided the school with useful information, then hopefully it will be easier to get permission to go next year.

Good luck!

  • Terry Freedman is a freelance writer, trainer and speaker on education technology. He publishes the ICT & Computing in Education website at and is the author of How to Get the Most out of Education Conferences.

Download SecEd’s free guide to Best 2018

This article has been published as part of SecEd’s free 32-page, secondary-specific guide to Best 2018. The guide features show preview advice, highlights and general education technology-related articles. You can download the guide at


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