As this honorary Yorkshire man headed back from the BETT show, he felt a hearty, still queasy, appreciation of the shortness of my daily commute. For all my travelling when younger, and for all my international classroom collaboration now, I really don’t travel well these days.

Still, this weekend has seen me equally enthused and amused. Enthused by meeting fellow professionals who place pupils and best practice ahead of profits, and amused by salespeople who say all the wrong things.

Why do some of the major publishers at the BETT show charge £800 for an annual (!) site licence for a digitised text book? Who actually uses it? And, more importantly, why doesn’t my school have money to splash out on something so inherently transitory?

What is rather amusing is how some of these salesepeople who,

a) having watching Waterloo road as the extent of their teaching experience,
b) having taught before and fled the classroom,
c) having taught before, but are very cynical,

offer entirely inappropriate sales pitches. Showing a BBC clip isn’t particularly going to, ‘make learning exciting.’ Presenting an entire paragraph from a text book a bit bigger on an IWB isn’t going to significantly ‘help dyslexic students to read it.’ And, certainly, just because a text book is available on the click of a clunky icon doesn’t mean that ‘students and parents will make learning happen at home’.

What planet are these people on? One with an archipelago landmass in the shape of a pound sign, and a mountain range shaped as a dollar, I suspect.

Furthermore, salespeople suggest that I am going to excited by following four part lesson plans. Apparently, if the kids want, they can see the lesson plans.


Since when have students been enthused by a text book? From time to time, yes. I teach a top set year 9 class that once professed to loving text-book teaching. Once. From a teacher who was extremely dynamic. I also once saw teacher wait until a class entered the room, before leaving for a few moments only to return with an arm-full of text books. It only took several weeks for the class to descend.

As with all of these technologies, I ask the salespeople to provide me with references of a place where there is a culture of their product being used successfully.

Still, my ire is not perhaps apt against what is essential a trade show. Surely, shouldn’t there be even more of a drive for quality resources and planning? Keep posted for some exciting news on the utterly brilliant, free (in that the Government have already paid for them) National Grids for Learning resources.

The Quill Guy