Realism likely to be the flavour of BETT 2011

Opinion

Realism likely to be the flavour of BETT 2011

January is always the month when education and technology dominate at the BETT show in London providing an indication of where that particular market is going.

For the past few years it has been dominated with interactive white boards, projectors and hopes that children would be given access to some of the emerging tablet and mobile technologies.

Last year saw the first tangible signs that there was real fear in the market that with a change of government there would also be a change of commitment to ensuring UK schools had the best in terms of technology.

Since BETT last year plenty has happened to provide substance to those fearing the worst. BECTA, the body responsible for advising schools on technology and for running and maintaining approved supplier lists, was scraped and is closing this year.

Then the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme saw the axe swung on a large number of its projects. That hit not just the schools and councils, which were the target of public spending cuts, but also the contractors and educational specialists in the channel.

Although aimed at the higher education space the decision to hike tuition fees has seen demonstrations on the streets and claims that the current government is pricing some children out of a university education.

So the atmosphere for BETT is going to be an interesting one this year. Realism is no doubt going to be the flavour of the halls at Olympia as it is in life, not just the education market.

The problem for those that want to cut and turn the screws on education is that the future prosperity of the country depends on the generations coming through the school and university system. If we short change them then ultimately we short change ourselves.

Technology is fundamental to the learning process now and cannot be stopped. Or rather it can but in the face of competition from the emerging graduate powerhouses of India and China do we really want to take the foot off the gas?

This was first published in January 2011

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