Over the border: Epping schoolchildren set to take centre stage at major EdTech show

Education / Sat 13th Jan 2024 at 01:35pm

AS part of this year’s Kids Judge Bett competition, students from two Essex schools will appear on stage with acclaimed poet and children’s author Michael Rosen to select the best EdTech solutions on display at Bett UK 2024.

Schoolchildren from Epping Forest Schools Partnership Trust and White Bridge Primary School in Essex, have been chosen as judges at this year’s Kids Judge Bett – a competition that will see more than 60 children from 14 schools across the UK cast their critical eyes over the latest, cutting-edge technologies on show at Bett UK 2024 – the world’s biggest EdTech event. The two Essex schools were selected out of a large number that applied from all over the UK to take part.

Bett UK will take place at London’s ExCeL Centre from 24-26 January 2024, and bring together more than 30,000 educators, innovators, and changemakers from around the globe looking to make a genuine impact on the lives of teachers and learners.

The student judges are aged between 7-13 years old. Accompanied by their parents and teachers, the students from Epping Forest Schools Partnership Trust and White Bridge Primary School will join children from 12 other schools from across the UK – including SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) schools – travelling from as far as Cumbria to the ExCeL on 26 January to take part in the competition.

Matthew Harrison, Head of Technology at Epping Forest Schools Partnership Trust, said:

“Our students are so excited to be taking part in Kids Judge Bett. We have seen first-hand the positive impact that technology can have in the classroom, and look forward to exploring how our school can continue embracing innovative digital solutions with the potential to improve student engagement, inclusion, learning outcomes, and creativity. Kids Judge Bett is a unique and wonderful initiative that allows children to have their voices heard and, equally, I’m sure our students will have a brilliant time trying out all the tech and sharing their thoughts.”

Kids Judge Bett is returning for its ninth year at Bett UK. This popular event was first devised in 2016 by Katy Potts, Computing and Online Safety Lead for Schools at Islington Council, and has been run in partnership with the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) ever since.

Katy Potts, Computing and Online Safety Lead for Schools at Islington Council, said:

“I was inspired to launch Kids Judge Bett almost a decade ago as a way of getting students more involved in the show, because who better to judge edtech and learning resources for schools & families than the children themselves. It’s important that we provide opportunities for the youngest generation to develop knowledge, critical thinking and creativity around technology – particularly in our fast-changing world and with pressing global priorities including sustainability. Kids Judge Bett gives exhibitors the chance to receive genuine feedback from the audience that they care about most.

“Schools participating in the competition should expect a day packed with visits to exhibitor stands, hands-on demonstrations of the latest technology and learning resources and a fabulous Awards ceremony to finish with Michael Rosen, which will see the winning companies crowned. I’d also like to thank all the schools that applied to take part. We are delighted to see so many new schools participating in our ninth edition of Kids Judge Bett.”

With more than 600 EdTech solution providers on show this year, the students will nominate their favourite solutions from a shortlist of exhibitor stands. Schools attending the show on 24 and 25 January can nominate a company or product for the shortlist by posting suggestions on X (formerly Twitter) using the hashtag #KidsJudgeBett.

Last year’s award categories included ‘Best High Impact Product for Neurodiversity’, ‘Best Product for Safe and Secure Metaverse’, and ‘Best Creative Tool for Esports’. This year, new categories will focus on awarding sustainability, AI adaptation, and inclusion.

Following on from last year’s tradition, the students themselves will announce the winners of Kids Judge Bett live on the main Arena stage, alongside acclaimed poet and children’s author Michael Rosen. The winners will be presented with a coveted chocolate trophy.

Emma Vandore, Head of Content at Bett, said:

“We are thrilled to welcome students from Epping Forest Schools Partnership Trust and White Bridge Primary School for what is set to be a very exciting day at Bett UK 2024! Kids Judge Bett is one of the highlights of our show. It’s so rewarding to see in real-time the impact digital solutions and resources can have on a student – whether it’s improving accessibility for SEND learners, or sparking a newfound love for literature.”

Bett UK’s 2023 edition brought together 600 EdTech companies and 400 speakers from 123 countries. The 2024 event promises a host of new programmes, including TableTalks and Tech User Labs, which leverage Bett’s groundbreaking technology platform to enable educators to collaborate with peers and experts. The event will also provide a greater focus on inclusive education, with more on neurodiversity and SEND, as well as professional development opportunities for teachers to improve their EdTech knowledge and purchasing expertise. Additionally, the programme will offer a deeper dive into AI’s impact on education.

To kick things off, world-renowned ballerina Dame Darcey Bussell DBE will be sharing her passion for promoting the arts in schools through her charity, the DDMIX Trust, and engaging attendees in the magic of dance. Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP, the UK’s Secretary of State for Education, will then be delivering an opening address. Afterwards, acclaimed documentary presenter Louis Theroux will be interviewing a special guest on stage. In a fireside chat, former member of England’s national football team Alex Scott MBE will discuss building resilience and empowering youth through physical education, and Baroness Floella Benjamin will talk about her time as one of Britain’s favourite children’s TV presenters. Bett UK 2024 will also see the return of the show’s two other flagship prizes, the Bett Awards and the Design4SDGs Design Challenge.

For more information about what to expect at Kids Judge Bett, visit: https://uk.bettshow.com/kids-judge-bett. Tickets for Bett UK 2024 are available online.

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