Sal McKeown Looks Ahead to CPD at BETT!

Are you going to BETT? Many schools use BETT as a source of Continual Professional Learning but this year you might need to pick your day and plan your itinerary very carefully because quite frankly the seminar list is a disappointment.  

There are far too many examples of exhibitors banging the gong for their product rather than providing sessions which are useful for teachers but then BETT is not really aimed four square at UK schools in the way it used to be. These days it is a key international trade show and many companies are looking for new partners and resellers and use the seminars as a useful marketing tool to enhance their profile.

However there are a few gems. Here are my top ten. The key themes in education this year are likely to be: controlling the haemorrhage of qualified teachers, assessment and administration and building computing and technology skills so no change there.

Check out these four useful TES talks:

  1. 21st January 10 45 to 1130: Most teachers find jobs online. This session from Polly Howden, TES Project Director, highlights new research and shows how the school can position itself to grab the interest of the 21st century candidate 
  2. 21st January 12 45 to 1345:  Craig Barton, primary teacher and creator of Mr Barton Maths, is talking about teaching to the test and showing how test questions can be combined with technology to create better ways to diagnose pupils’ misconceptions.
  3. 20th January 13:30 to 14.15Clare Lotriet, primary  teacher and author of the How to Code series is running a session called How can you teach technology to kids who understand it better than you? 
  4. Also try the SEN Live session 22nd January 13 30 to 1400 where Joe White, assistant head at Stone Bay School in Broadstairs, a school for young people with autism, will be talking about using the Wellbeing curriculum to teach digital citizenship to young people with special needs.


There are some interesting newer themes emerging at BETT 2016. Look at the STEM to STEAM agenda, encouraging more women into technology and developing entrepreneurs. These seminars will help:

  • 21 January 16:20 – 16:50 School Leaders Summit Adam Webster is Director of Digital Learning at Caterham School. His session  Innovative Integration of Technology in Teaching The Arts addresses ways in which technology can be used in the teaching of arts based studies. 
  • 21st January 1530 -1600 STEAM Village Nick Corston is a great advocate for STEAM as a way to help children learn  to play and think creatively and inventively. Catch his session STEAM Powering Our Children’s Future
  • 22 January, 15:15 – 15:45 BETT Arena: Girls with a Plan. Science meets innovation at Kinsale Community School in Cork where Emer Hickey Sophie Healy-Thow & Ciara Judge discovered that a naturally occurring bacteria could increase the germination process of crops such as barley and oats. They now have their own company, Germinaid Innovations.
  • 21st January 12 20 to 1250 STEAM Village Giving Girls a Voice in the Digital Conversation. Julie Bentley, Chief Executive of Girlguiding, will be talking about a collaborative project with Microsoft investigating attitudes by Brownies and Guides to digital skills and careers in technology.

Finally – two sessions that will fill up very quickly:

  • 22 January 16:30 – 17:00 Learn Live: Primary.  Minecraft has been credited with a massive boost in literacy skills as well as engaging reluctant learners and turning them into mini geeks. Raymond Chambers, Head of Computing at Henwick Primary School, will be talking about Using Minecraft to Engage Learners This session will show you to how it is possible to code using models such as Minecraft Edu. 
  • 20th January 13 30 to 1430 STEAM Village. Many children have been following the news of British astronaut Tim Peake. Dave Honess of the Raspberry Pi Foundation will discuss the Astro Pi Mission and explain how Tim is inspiring a generation of schoolchildren with STEM.

Sal McKeownSal McKeown is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in education. Sal has taught in schools and colleges, supporting students with the full range of learning needs from sensory disabilities to mental health issues and autism, but is probably best known for her vast work on dyslexia.