Annika SmallAnnika Small: BETT 'outstanding achievement' 2010The BETT Awards for 2011, which had been threatened by the closure of Becta and withdrawal of sponsorship, are now open for nominations. And they look like being leaner meaner and fairer.

Leaner because the lack of time to secure financial backing has led to the categories being pruned, and meaner because firms wishing to enter their products will have to pay administration fees. And they are likely to be fairer because the overly bureaucratic judging and technical testing regime, formerly managed by Becta, has been ditched. Teachers and educators will lead the judging and the criteria will be based on evidence of impact on learning.

Launching the 13th annual awards this week, partners Emap Connect and BESA (British Educational Suppliers Association) said they would be held on January 12, 2011, the first day of the four-day BETT 2011 event at Olympia, London. They said the awards would have a “fresh new look” which would include a new category, Environmental Sustainability, and an overhauled judging process.

Lack of sponsorship has led to the introduction on entry fees

Because of the lack of sponsorship, the organisers have had to introduce an entry fee of £175 plus VAT per product (£155 plus VAT for BESA members). The BETT Awards will continue to be judged by educational professionals, with a strong focus on what works in the classroom or school, and the dissemination of the winning and shortlisted products and companies will be conducted through BETT.

The current generation of the BETT Awards were set up with government support to encourage high industry benchmarks for products, and to highlight “exemplary technological products and innovations” for education – for nurseries, schools, colleges and special schools alike.

The new awards have 13 distinctive categories which were suggested by BECTA in consultation with Emap and BESA, to “ensure continuity”. They are:

  1. Early Years and Primary Digital Content
  2. Secondary, FE and Skills Digital Content
  3. Tools for Learning and Teaching
  4. Digital Collections and Resource Banks
  5. Special Educational Needs Solutions
  6. Digital Devices
  7. Leadership and Management Solutions
  8. Environmental Sustainability
  9. ICT Company of the Year
  10. ICT Exporter of the Year
  11. ICT Education Partnership
  12. ICT Service and Support
  13. The final category – Outstanding Achievement in ICT Education (won by Annika Small, above, in 2010) – requires no entries as the shortlist and winner is decided by a separate group of experts.

As with the Education Resources Awards, BESA will act as chair of judges, responsible for the impartiality and fairness of a two-stage process involving education professionals. The first stage requires judges to evaluate paper-based submissions from entrants to create a shortlist that will then be sent for hands-on judging in the second stage.

Ray BarkerRay Barker (pictured), director of BESA and chair of the judges, said: “Winners of the highly esteemed BETT Awards enjoy recognition within the sector, both in the UK and internationally, as innovative, quality suppliers. This year’s changes will ensure that the BETT Awards will continue to showcase the most innovative and engaging resources and will still be judged by a panel of independent ICT expert practitioners – those people who really know what works in the classroom.”

Emap Connect managing director Paul Dunne added: “Following the government reforms of the education sector and the demise of BECTA, Emap and BESA have persevered to ensure the valued and respected BETT Awards could continue for the benefit of both the industry and educators. We thank you for your continued support and look to celebrating another year of outstanding entries.”

The BETT show has developed into the world’s largest technology in education event. The 2010 event attracted close to 30,000 visitors and had 700 educational exhibitors. Fears about the effects of the cuts have not yet materialised, and it is understood that stand space released by the non-attendance of government departments and quangos has already been taken up by other exhibitors. The big question remainng for the organisers will be whether attendance will hold up.

More information

BETT award entries can be completed online at until the October 4 closing date, and the shortlist will be published at the end of October.
The winners will be announced at a prestigious gala evening event on January 12, 2011, the opening day of BETT 2011 (January 12-15) at Olympia, London. Bookings for tables at the awards are being organised by Emap, also at

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