Innovation for education at Bett 2024

Bett 2024 was packed with innovation, attracting over 30,000 of the global education community to view the latest education technology and hear from inspiring figures and education professionals

Bett 2024 took place from 24 to 26 January at London's ExCel and attracted over 30,000 of the global education community, over 2,000 children, and 300 inspirational speakers to get a taste of innovative technology for the education sector.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan took the keynote address, setting out the importance of evidence and innovation in the DfE's approach to Artificial Intelligence (AI).

She encouraged the sector to innovate and explore the potential of AI to transform teaching and learning, and argued that, alongside robust regulation and an evidence-based approach, international collaboration is key if we are to take advantage of the opportunities offered by this emerging technology.

She told the conference: "Since I stood on this stage in March last year, we’ve seen generative AI continue to develop at pace and spark conversations all over the globe. Those conversations have highlighted some of the opportunities and the challenges that AI might bring."

She continued: "This country’s EdTech sector contains a wealth of innovators and leaders who are looking to the future.

"Alongside them are the brilliant educators, hundreds of whom responded to our recent call for evidence which told us how generative AI is saving hours of planning time and helping to reduce workloads."

The speech coincided with the publication of the a report from the Department for Education on AI, which contains insights from interviews with teachers, educators and academic experts, reaffirming the view that Generative AI could have a transformative impact on education.

At Bett, the Education Secretary also highlighted how the government is creating a forward-looking skills sector that is equipped to deal with AI. Last year, over 22,000 people started a digital apprenticeship, while digital Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) and Skills Bootcamps are helping both young and adult learners to develop their skillset and grasp the opportunities associated with AI.

The use of AI in the classroom was also discussed by Rosemary Luckin, a UCL Professor renowned for her research into the design and evaluation of educational technology, and Dan Fitzpatrick, the author of the acclaimed book, The AI Classroom.

Lee Parkinson, the popular blogger known as Mr P ICT, spoke about how emerging technology, such as language-based AI models, can save teachers significant time with different admin tasks.

The topics that matter

There was a substantial focus on SEND and Neurodiversity at Bett 2024. Documentary presenter extraordinaire Louis Theroux took to the stage to interview Loyle Carner about social inclusion in schools, neurodiversity, and the ADHD cookery school he founded.

Former Love Islander and Global Ambassador for DeafKidzUK, Tasha Ghouri, spoke about her experience as a deaf person in mainstream school and how Higher Education can become more inclusive of students with additional needs.

Dame Darcey Bussell DBE, dancer and founder of DDMIX Trust returned to Bett this year, and delivered a powerful speech on the importance of movement for both children and adults. Darcey Bussell explained how staying active is crucial for health and wellbeing and had attendees up and dancing.
Jason Arday, a renowned sociologist best known for his research on race and racism, also took to the stage. His appointment as Professor of Sociology of Education at the University of Cambridge made him the youngest Black person ever appointed to a Professorial Chair and one of the youngest people ever to be appointed to a full Professorship in Oxbridge’s history.

Meanwhile, former Lioness Alex Scott MBE captivated the audience with her talk about overcoming racism and sexism to succeed in a male-dominated sport.

Also presenting was be Namya Joshi – an inspiring 16-year-old Minecraft Student Ambassador at Microsoft. She has spent the last five years designing and delivering free coding workshops for more than 15,000 teachers and young people, especially girls, in India and all over the world. Namya works passionately to raise awareness about social issues using game-based learning with STEM to provide solutions for the problems facing humanity.

Facilitating conversations

TableTalks was a new feature for 2024, which connected individuals from schools, universities and governments for roundtable conversations based on their primary topics of interest, such as AI, SEND or cybersecurity.

The Tech User Labs were another new feature which allowed delegates to get the most out of their existing tech with working groups and demos from the top education technology experts in the world, through interactive 45-minute sessions.

Exciting exhibition

The ExCel centre was home to rows of exciting exhibitors, showcasing the latest technological innovations that can help the education sector.
YPO, one of the UK’s largest public sector buying organisations, launched a brand new edtech software platform, Learning Box, that aims to provide schools with access to the latest programmes to support education.
Similar to a streaming platform, YPO’s Learning Box will give schools access to a wide range of technology through a single log-in. Each equipped school will be able to customise its programmes and bundles, consolidating contracts and billing to ensure that only what is used is paid for. Teachers will also be able to access live analysis progress, highlighting individual strengths of pupils and areas which may require extra support.

Promethean debuted its new Explain Everything Advanced software solution, which is designed to revolutionise lesson creation and delivery. It has customisable templates, a large library of shapes and clipart. Designed to be used for in-person, remote, and hybrid environments, Explain Everything Advanced allows teachers to record their lessons and then edit them so they can be shared with students anytime.
ViewSonic debuted two new software solutions: ClassSwift and TeamWork. ClassSwift is a real-time class interaction and management tool that empowers teachers to assess student comprehension and personalise learning experiences, and TeamWork is a real-time collaborative whiteboarding software with ready-made templates, transforming any space into a digital workspace.

Additionally, ViewSonic showcased its upcoming 110" 4K ViewBoard interactive display with advanced multitasking capabilities and the new Meeting Space Solution for Microsoft Teams Rooms for enhanced hybrid learning efficiency.

Philips was also present, showcasing its latest generation of hardware and software innovations, including the official global launch of its 4K, interactive Philips Collaboration displays for Education, together with an official preview of its Philips Genius education software suite – its most advanced classroom solution to date.

UBTECH meanwhile attracted visitors with its programmable robots, which help to enhance AI literacy in young people.

Kids Judge Bett

Kids Judge Bett took place again this year, with pupils from around the UK select their favourite innovations on display.

Kids Judge Bett was created and organised by Katy Potts, Computing and Online Safety Lead for Schools at Islington Council, in partnership with the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA). This popular event was first launched in 2016 to help raise the profile of pupils’ voices, the importance of critical thinking around technology, and understanding of the incredible potential of EdTech.

The students announced the winners of alongside celebrated poet and children’s author Michael Rosen. Winners included Photon Entertainment for Best Robotics for Inclusion Award, and Tech She Can for Best Gender Equality in Education Resource.