Education Show: The teachers' turn to look and listen

The Education Show gave visitors a chance to pick up tips and see the future of learning.

Thousands of teachers hoping to glimpse the future of nursery, primary and secondary education converged at Birmingham's NEC Arena at the end of last week for the Education Show. The annual three-day event, which attracts around 17,000 visitors, featured more than 600 exhibitors showcasing their newest educational products.

The show also boasted more than 80 seminars and workshops in continuing professional development, as well as a special one-off feature called Learning by Reading, with live demonstrations from children's authors and publishers.

The show's organisers were clearly keen to promote the National Year of Reading – that's 2008, in case you didn't know – dedicating the final day of the event to a series of seminars on how to motivate youngsters to read.

"This year's show reflected the many areas of change we're due to see in 2008," says Briony Mansell-Lewis, director of exhibitions at Emap Public Sector, which organises the Education Show in partnership with the British Educational Suppliers Association. "There was a huge range of products on display; from stuffed toys for early-years teaching to furniture that's going to completely change the way classrooms look."

Denise Cripps is the managing director of education at Scholastic, the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books, who were responsible for publishing Philip Pullman's phenomenally successful His Dark Materials trilogy. Scholastic's seminars instructed teachers in the art of storytelling, as a way of persuading their pupils to read in their spare time.

"It's all about learning how to tell a story, and really engage and excite children with it," she says, "and it was lovely that the Education Show created a space for doing that. The event is really important for us, because we get to talk to teachers directly."

Although the show had a largely literary flavour this year, one of the biggest talking points was the launch of the Elonex ONE, the first laptop in Britain to be priced at under £100.

Similar products were showcased at the BETT technology fair in London in January, but Elonex is the first company to seriously match affordability with portability. Their efforts paid off: by noon on the first day of the show, they had already sold more than 26,000 computers.

"Everyone who came to see it loved it," says Sam Goult, marketing manager at Elonex. "The idea is to give every child in the country access to their own laptop, with all the software that they'd need to use on a day-to-day basis. It's extremely light and mobile so it can also be taken on field trips – we're hoping it'll give kids a much more engaging educational experience."

The laptops have a simple user interface, but they are also powerful. Each computer comes with a word processor, spreadsheet creator, PDF reader and MP3 player, and can be used to access the internet.

"Computing and the internet have now completely taken over the modern world, so we thought it was vital to make it accessible to schoolchildren," says Goult. "Now that laptops are a part of the modern world, the chance of every pupil having one has become a distinct possibility."

Another part of the NEC was given over to the less hi-tech but still popular area of educational furnishings. British Thornton is one of the country's leading manufacturers in this area. This was the company's first time at the event in a decade, and they decided to use the opportunity to showcase their new selection of primary school furniture.

The emphasis nowadays is on removing the traditional hierarchy of the classroom, by placing teachers at the centre of the room rather than at the front. Banks of desks are designed to be as mobile as possible, so they can adapt to whatever shape the teacher requires.

Nick Jevons, marketing manager at British Thornton, says: "We're creating fully flexible learning environments, allowing the classroom to change its character depending on what you want to teach. It's about moving away from the old image of teaching and making it much more flexible and interactive, which is very exciting."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Guru Careers: Product Training Specialist / Software Trainer

£25 - 32,500K (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Produ...

Recruitment Genius: Unqualified NVQ Assessors - Health, Social Care & Management

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

Escape from Everest base camp

Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

Gossip girl comes of age

Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

Goat cuisine

It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
14 best coat hooks

Hang on: 14 best coat hooks

Set the tone for the rest of your house with a stylish and functional coat rack in the hallway
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?