Despite it being the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, a Friday and endless roadworks on the M5 with speed restrictions in place, my journeys to and from the NEC were bearable.
It was not Young Voices calling this time around, but The Education Show (http://www.education-show.com/)! I try to visit annually or bi-annually to keep abreast with developments within the realm of education, attend keynote speakers sessions and meet individuals whom I have had contact with via e-mail, tweets, etc. (it is always lovely to be able to put a name to a face).
The NEC was heaving this year as there were three shows in the neighbouring atrium to The Education Show, plus the Big Bag event that numerous schools appeared to be attending judging by the amount of minibuses and coaches in the car park! It threw me somewhat having to park and exit from the north side … usually I approach from the east side. The shuttle buses were very frequent and soon took us to the exhibition halls, however.
Once inside, there was a real buzz. It can be quite bewildering at first as the stands seem to go on forever. Nevertheless, once you have viewed the floor plan and identified the zones that are most applicable to you, it does become more manageable. I negotiated a good half of the exhibition before stopping for a well earned coffee break. Not only did I seize some great offers on educational supplies (stocking up for private tutoring), but also spoke with several people manning stands that I felt might be relevant to my freelance consultancy and authoring work, e.g. British Council, Artsmark, Ministry of Defence schools, Jack Cherry. It was also good to catch up with representatives from organisations that I have recently provided services for, e.g. Ed-Coms, Canada-UK Foundation.
What did strike me is how much emphasis is placed on maths/numeracy, English/literacy, SEND, online safety/technology and outdoor spaces. Foundation subjects seemed somewhat marginalised … I think I only saw one stand linked to history! Perhaps, a target for 2018 should be to have a greater range of exhibitors displaying their products/services? Often, with so many budget cuts, it is foundation subject leaders that fail to gain the support that they require. In my opinion, and this was also reinforced at a primary geography conference I attended a fortnight ago, achieving mastery in maths and English is far more effective when it has a clear purpose, e.g. links to a real-life situation/context that children are able to easily relate to. There is still room for foundation subjects … after all, we should be aiming to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum in our schools.
Now, back at home, I must pursue leads that I have made and sift through the various leaflets/brochures that I have been given.
Be brave … it is worth the trip if you have yet to experience a show!