Review: Top five at Bett

Written by: Shaun Eason | Published:
Big day out: The Bett Show 2016 took place at London’s ExCeL arena in January (Image: Jack Terry Photography)

The Bett education technology event took place last month in London, with more than 600 companies showing off their wares. School leader Shaun Eason picks out his five favourites from this year’s show

There is always lots to experience at Bett and it is impossible to see everything in four days. As soon as you enter the exhibition it is overwhelming; all of the exhibitors have clearly invested a great deal of time and effort in making their stands look great and their products and services even greater. Here are my top five finds from this year’s show...

First stop, Think IT. I was attracted to this stand initially by its quirky, multi-coloured design (it is always key to stand out at such a large exhibition). Think IT offers a “pick‘n’mix” procurement service for schools. It allows you to choose the right products for your school without the stress of contacting company after company. The experts I spoke to were very helpful and explained that there isn’t a charge for the service, you just pick the partners you want to work with and the rest is done for you.

I think small schools especially would benefit from this support and guidance and because the framework is recognised by the Department for Education it helps ease the pressure of finding suppliers you can trust and making the right IT choices. This is definitely one to watch.

With recent government developments highlighting the importance of monitoring student internet access, online safety is a key concern and Impero – my second top find – seems to be tackling this head-on.

Visiting this stand, I was shown a great piece of software that allows teachers to monitor what students do in class, control their workstation, and broadcast content onto various student workstations, among other things.

My interest was in the safeguarding of student internet use and they have got a product that seems easy to use.

Blue Sky Education was another company that caught my eye. It offers online recording of CPD and performance management, using a paperless, cloud system. This gives control to the user to record evidence to support their targets, courses attended and teaching records.

The team on the stand explained how the subscription comes with three hours of training to support teachers in using it effectively. Another capability that sealed the deal for me was that if a teacher moves on to another school, they can take all the records with them, allowing for continuity in their CPD. I like this concept and will be contacting Blue Sky about it.

As a teacher with an extremely hectic lifestyle, I was on a mission to find companies that could help me to better organise myself. It was clear that there were plenty of tools and resources available to choose from, but after engaging in various conversations, I stumbled across a company I hadn’t heard of before, called Showbie.

Essentially, it is a paperless system which allows students to submit work to their teachers via an app, which the teacher can mark from anywhere, at any time and give feedback on.

I was sceptical about the app at first, but having considered it further I think it has got a lot of potential. The ability to keep everything in one place and access it from anywhere is really important for teachers who are constantly on-the-go. This means no longer having to cart heavy bundles of exercise books home every evening – so that certainly appeals! At the same time, you are saving money on exercise books and print costs. Definitely one to consider if you face the same challenges as me – and of course, as a computing teacher, I love apps!

Continuing on the theme of saving time and money, the final company on my list to watch out for has to be Educater. This is a simple-to-use communication system built specifically for schools based on their requirements and designed to limit the burden of administration and paperwork (one of my biggest bug-bears).

The system works with a school’s existing management system so there is no need to implement new management software. Educater is relatively new, only launching at Bett 2015, but it is a fantastic concept that’s tackling a genuine need.

  • Shaun Eason is assistant headteacher at All Saints Catholic School in Redbridge.


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