Squirrel

By Maureen McTaggart

I might be petrified of squirrels, especially the grey one that keeps me from my front door while it stashes food in the plant pot (unlike the red squirrel, left, by Chris Weston), but even in London N1 I am mesmerised by the antics of the local wildlife and tempted to reach for a camera. And that's exactly what young photographers in schools and community centres will be encouraged to do for the forthcoming British Wildlife Photography Awards .

There's time to work some activities into lessons or a school visit as they won't be launched until April 2 (check the website). The awards are open to photographers of all nationalities (so long as the pictures are of British wildlife) and include two under-17 categories to persuade young people, schools and community youth groups to take part.

Joe MorettiJoe MorettiApple Inc perturbed many UK educationists with the insight into the corporate Cupertino mentality afforded by its decision to pull out of the BETT educational technology show in London and undermine the hard work of its UK education staff. There may be better ways to communicate with teachers and the education 'market' but, for now, all the key people are at BETT.

However, Apple distinguished educators like Joe Moretti (pictured, and video below), David Baugh and Oscar Stringer, put on bravura performances at BETT 2009 to keep the Apple logo fluttering. And they are already preparing for the company's key education event for creative learning in the UK, the Apple Teacher Institute.

Microsoft might not be unduly worried about Vinothan Shankar's e-petition to Downing Street to dump Windows as the dominant operating system for PCs in UK schools and replace it with a free open-source alternative. But it could prove an interesting lithmus test to see whether open source is gaining a foothold in schools following the success of Moodle as a VLE and the popularity of the Asus EeePC Linux netbook.

The petition has so far been signed by 163 people but there is still plenty of time - the final deadline is August 6. It warns: "The only BECTA recommended operating system for schools is Microsoft Windows, but there are several reasons why this is not the best choice for use in an educational environment.

Chris DrageChris DrageChris Drage (left) found plenty of inspiration at BETT 2009 and has a review wish list to work through
I still can’t believe it. For 25 years I have visited the annual BETT exhibition, and for every one of those years it has been deemed “the biggest one ever”. Dedicated follower of ICT fashion?  No, I go to be inspired and to take my own knowledge and understanding of technology-assisted learning several steps forward.

This year Building Schools for the Future (BSF) was a major theme of BETT 2009 . After three-and-a-half days of foot slogging it became clear that the wise senior leadership teams were the ones that encouraged their staff to attend BETT 2009 as part of their professional development. Especially if their schools are to become academies in the near future as so many will.

Short-throw projectorShort-throw table projectorICT is rarely just ICT, just as furniture and furnishing don't make 100 per cent sense on their own. For schools, these elements come together in what have become known in new-build and BSF circles as "settings" - if not actual classrooms. And believe it or not, settings have more effect on student performance than the actual buildings - the shells - students are schooled in.

That's why there was so much interest at BETT 2009 in the "learning spaces" section of ICT services supplier RM's suite in the Oympia 2 building next door to the main exhibition. For the very first time teachers, school leaders and advisers could play around with the elements of "settings" and model learning spaces for themselves.