It's not just teachers who join the freebie fest at BETT. Headteacher Steve Gater excelled

Frog's BETT bagThe BETT bag to die for - Frog'sAs ever, the annual gathering at BETT was this year treated to a blaze of new ideas, kit and ways of working and learning. For me, BETT never fails to impress with its buzz and business, talks and technology. It always kick-starts the new year with aplomb, and the January 2011 show was no exception.

With so much to see in limited time, I suspect that many delegates like me were looking for a lead in and it quickly transpired that Frog was well positioned to help. Of all the carriers being toted around the huge exhibition space, perhaps the Frog bag – big, bright and in bold colours – stole the show. I was certainly asked by more than one anxious customer where to source of this fashion statement and many were collecting a good stock.

You’d expect many a bright idea in the show and Ergo came up with the goods in the shape of bright, red, stress-buster lightbulbs. very handy when the crowds were swarming around lunchtime. That was when the Schools Need Soundfield stand was an essential visit to grab a pair of high-visability armbands that made keeping together as a group that bit easier. They’ll also double up as cycling leg bands, so their publicity will last a little longer yet.

Thinking along the same lines were Adobe and Guroo, both spreading their message via dark coloured mugs, especially liked since they hide the tea stains so well but it is a bit tricky to tell how much you’d drunk when its black tea or coffee – so, beware of hot drinks!

digitalMedigitalMe: behind Safe advice for responsible social networkingOn the safety front, digitalME caught the eye with their bright yellow safe badges and certificates for safe social networking. How refreshing to find an approach that embraces reality and promotes safer use of social networks, with training for primary school children. I also warmed to the sticker, but as a Mac buff I would, wouldn’t I? Think different! The other sticker that popped into my bag was advertising the Openspace API by Ordnance Survey, another great way (by opening up map apps for developers) into teaching children to understand and to take measured risk through exciting work outdoors.

Also appealing, as a card only though (I was a bit disappointed here), were details of the Digital Historical Atlas, the dismay tempered by its offer of a three-month free trial. But by this stage my bag was overflowing with so many other freebies and handouts, enough pens for every child back at school, chocolates to sweeten key staff and so many brochures that should keep departmental heads out of my way for weeks to come. Thank goodness that The Norwegian Centre for ICT Education came to my rescue with a nifty fold-away nylon bag for the rest of my stuff – not as sexy as the Frog bag but much better for the pocket.

So a good day, with only one handout politely declined, I really couldn’t stomach the idea of free frog noodles – sorry Frog. All in all though, this year’s selection of promotional nick-nacks added an extra fun element to a great BETT show and all exhibitors, mentioned here or not, should be applauded for their efforts to keep the crowds happy and well informed. A pity really that none could walk away with a BETT Award for their imaginative efforts – an opportunity for the organisers to put right next time maybe? A BETT 2012 Blagger Award?

Steve GaterSteve Gater is headteacher of Walker Technology College, Newcastle on Tyne, and a consultant the the National College of Leaderships of Schools and Children's Services. He was also a presenter at the Collabor8 4 Change evening at BETT 2011.

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