ICT 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.
It wasn't all about RM; products and settings were also on show from other companies and collaborators and, fortunately, film crews were on hand to record the innovations available as you can see for yourself below.
Students were bussed in from schools to work in a variety of settings with a range of furnishings and technologies, from green-screen Chroma-key through stop-motion animation, LEGO, the Microsoft Surface, laptops and digital cameras to an extremely cool, Big Brother-style video 'diary room'. Unsurprisingly they did not disappoint.
Richard Taylor (above) takes pleasure in demonstrating the height-adjustable Orbital chair-desk combination marketed by Isis Concepts. He was deputy director of the Business Development Unit at the then Department for Education and Skills when this design, by Azumi for Keen Furniture, won a classroom furniture competition the DfES ran jointly with the Design Council.
Learn more about settings and learning suites for remodelled and new-build schools in this interview with Beech Williamson, a design manager at Partnerships for Schools, on the NCSL's Future website for school leaders, and those who work with them, on Building Schools for the Future and the Primary Capital Partnership.