Becta, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, had a strong presence at the BETT show, which has been running for close to 20 years. Becta is the government's lead agency when it comes to IT procurement for schools and further education establishments. On Wednesday, schools minister Jim Knight announced that Becta will play a key part in a new taskforce to provide remote internet access to all UK school pupils.
Newsreader Huw Edwards made an appearance at the BETT technology show to promote BBC News School Report. The scheme, which so far has recruited around 60 schools, aims to encourage students to develop journalistic skills with help from teachers and BBC staff. Edwards said that by next year, the scheme hopes to attract around 200 schools.
Microsoft, along with other large vendors such as Dell, Novell, Symantec and Apple, had stands at the BETT show — an indication of the growing importance of the education sector to IT providers. However, Microsoft was dealt a blow on Wednesday when it emerged that Becta, the government's lead agency on IT procurement for schools, had advised its members not to adopt the tech giant's new Vista operating system for at least 12 months.