A divided education world

Returning from BETT, I’ve had some time to consider the landscape of the UK education system and I felt more positive than I have in a while.
In an ever changing education landscape, the tough question has always been how can any school keep their eyes on the horizon whilst proactively working in the present. This has become increasingly difficult… our yearly changing exams, battling educational theorists – research based education vs dinner table politics and the bigger and bigger knowledge base teachers are expected to ‘impart’, alongside the increased challenge from parents, larger classes in traditional spaces, less money, increased contact time, experienced teachers leaving in droves new teachers routinely leaving before 3 years… you would be safe to expect a rather resigned, stale and traditional BETT audience.
I didn’t see this.
I saw passionate teachers and leaders, looking at the UK picture but also aware of the vast research coming from other countries – Singapore, Australia, Scandinavia. Teachers who are carefully considering their spending, slowly rolling out changes, making every penny, every decision count. Planning learning spaces that can be flexible in this world of constant changes, but that will suit and work with the children they are teaching. And using research.
I spoke to an international audience of BETT visitors who are excited to find anything that seems different, an audience that considers the learning that can happen within a space and explores how they can affect it. They are looking at the global education picture and making sure their children, in their countries are coming out competing with the best of the best. Not just in their country, but across the world.
This is an exciting time. It’s tough, it’s exhausting, but I am seeing schools who are not willing to compromise. Who aren’t just looking at the cheapest stuff – to replace it the following year. – they’re looking at what will last, what will lastingly improve learning, what will excite the students and enable that spark which ignites a passion for learning.
As a teacher, there to share a product line which I am proud and excited to be a part of, I had some awesome conversations. I came away enthused and excited about the many schools who are hoping to develop their children to complete on a global level, and determined to help the ones who are still holding back.
We had great feedback for our products… write on surfaces, strong flexible furniture at affordable prices seems to be rare. We certainly thought it was, which is why we wanted to set up in the first place. But the enthusiasm for the changes in classroom practise this might generate was hugely encouraging too. As a parent of a child about to start school (in September) I was reminded that there are much more than ‘cells and bells’ schools out there. And about time too.
Juliette Heppell