Okay, last year I had intended to go to the N.E.C. but wasn’t allowed by my then boss (who cancelled my leave last minute…but that’s another day, another story). This year I could!
I was pretty excited to go, and the booking process was easy enough with the tickets being free. I only wish they had an option for Supply Teacher! Thing to remember is that you’ll need access to a printer as they expect you to print the tickets at home.
The N.E.C. as a venue is a good choice, excellent transport links (near to the airport, near to a train station, 5 mins from the motorway). There is an overabundance of parking, though you did have to pay £10 for it (this will, according to the N.E.C.’s website be going up to £12 in the future) as there was more than me going though it was worth it. If you want to park a shorter walk away with a guaranteed space, you can park in what I call the £20-car-park. You need to prebook before midnight on the night before the event you are going to and make sure you remember your code! When I’m costumed up and going to Comic-con, I always go for this option.
However, we arrived about 10:30 on Saturday, and despite there being 5+ different shows going on (the hobbycraft show almost swayed me from my course) I had no trouble parking. The walk wasn’t so bad, although I could have caught the free bus if it had been raining.
Check in was quick and painless and surprise! We got given a little tag so we could hang our tickets with our names around our necks. I did wonder why the ticket had folding instructions on – now I know. We also got given a show guide and map for free too in a paper bag (not all shows do this so it was a nice surprise). I would really need that bag by the end of the day.
Now, as a supply teacher, I wasn’t sure how popular I’d be as a visitor at one of these shows. I’d already decided I wouldn’t pretend to be anything I’m not so any suppliers who asked I was upfront with them. Plus, it stated on my name tag I was a Supply teacher so they knew I wasn’t attached to a school. I don’t actually think many of the vendors minded! I came away from the show with two purchases and two bags full of leaflets and samples. Right now I’m sat with the bags under my desk and a cardboard box ready for unwanted leaflets to go to the recycling. I did try to be quite good though and not get any leaflets I wasn’t interested in.
Let’s have a delve into what I have got! On another note, although I took the pictures below the images within them and information do not belong to me but to the companies that are mentioned above them.
Westfield4schools – I am so in love with these guys right now. The range of products they offer are numerous but I particularly liked the badges they gave me as free samples. Unlike a lot of the badges that size these had brooch clasps rather than pin clasps at the back – perfect for robustness (is that a word? not sure!) I really liked their water bottles – it would be awesome to have a school that gave the kids a water bottle and they were only to use that, at 0.93p per bottle (min order 50) getting cheaper at orders over 100, it would be possible, they also sell the caps and lids separately so you can replace chewed ones. Drawback is that they’re not dishwasher safe and I’m not sure you can buy direct from them unless you’re linked to an education authority – does that mean I can’t buy a shed load of stationary from them? we’ll see. The stand was really well set out and the assistant was very helpful, even trying to give me a water bottle when I complimented them.
Schoolbadgestore – I loved these guy’s stand, it’s a very traditional badge store so we’re talking pin badges mainly as shields, bars or rounds….but it was so…shiney! They also do lanyards and drawstring bags as well as a custom badge service. My personal favourite was the elemental badges, alas they’re not on the website so I couldn’t tell you how much they are!
Berol – Can any teacher honestly say that a stationary stall doesn’t make their heart beat a little bit faster…especially one with free samples? I love, and I mean LOVE Berol Whiteboard markers, they come in so many colours and I’ve never had issue with them. So I was delighted to come away with a purple whiteboard marker 😀
Did you know Berol have a teachers’ club? I didn’t either, I’ve emailed them to ask if I can join as a supply teacher as they seemed to want the school address to register – will keep you updated on that. Their leaflet was really nice as well a good blend of what they can do for you, what they can do for the students and also a notes section which I didn’t see anywhere else.
Safer handling – This one intrigued me as I’ve had to restrain students before during fights. They run a BTEC level 2 Positive handling care and control course accredited by EDEXCEL as well as CPD sessions. Yes I know…yay free pen! The business card is also a magnet which I thought was rather clever.
Guide dogs for the blind – These guys really put on a great stand. As a charity I guess they are able to get a large stand for more cheaply (as well they should) I was impressed by th different things they had going on. They had a sensory tunnel for people to experience what it’s like to be blind and they had some guide dogs for you to see and ask questions about. They also had a fundraising pack for schools and youth groups to sponsor a class of puppies. The pack had a rather nice lesson plan (one for primary and one for secondary) and also a lot of fundraising ideas and stickers to help you raise money.
British Dyslexia Association – Speaking of Charities, the British Dyslexia Association were also at the show. Being Dyslexic myself it was good to see them represented at the education show. They gave me a copy of the Dyslexia handbook (2014) and also a copy of their magazine. As well as offering specialist qualifications they also offer training and run Dyslexia awareness week. Don’t forget Dyslexia awareness week in November!
Leicester Museums learning team – These guys don’t have a separate website but this links to one of their PDF leaflets. I loved them, they had a really nice viking display and I got to make an iron age coin! I can imagine a class would be delighted. The ladies running the stall seemed very knowledgable and calming.
NASUWT – As always at shows I popped by the union I’m in. No, I’m not very interested in your opinion over why I’m in this union, or which other one you prefer! Have a look at the link if you’re interested. Free pen and a handy torch, perfect for those quiet winter evenings when the street light decides it won’t be on and you can’t find the door to unlock it!
Insect Lore – These guys are adorable. They also brought live butterflies with them which was a major crown pleaser. They provide insect larvae and habitats to mainly primary school ages. If I had my own class, with a lab though I’d be very, very tempted…
Ryco – The guy on this stand was passionate about his product – book covers! I love book covers, they prolong the life of the book and somehow make the students care for them more. After all if you’ve taken the time to protect the book then it must need extra care?
YPO – Oh my gosh. I had never HEARD of YPO until yesterday, but they have stuck firmly in my memory. I believe they sell everything. Yes, everything. They even have their own brand post-its. The best thing I got from the show, well one of the best things was the free bag from them. It was purple (yes, I love purple) but made of durable cotton. Seriously, just check out their site the brochure had me drooling.
Plastic tokens – Things never to say to a teacher ‘Please just take whichever samples you want’ Cue heavy breathing and a rather severe restraint on my part. These guys had an AMAZING stall. It was so colourful and showed how their tokens could be used and really showcased the colours they can offer. yes I’m gushing, live with it. *gush*
Zebra pen – Alright, I have to admit these guys made me a very happy lady and are one of the few stalls I actually bought anything from. Their pen pot was an amazing bargain and I cannot wait to actually open it 😀 Those different coloured pens are going to make me a very happy lady (and it was only £3 or £4!)
Crown house books (they publish lots of teaching books), TTS (many, many science supplies, I love their torch sets!), Ultimate Identity, indentity2u and also identibadge (Purveyors of lovely id badges and all those kind of things!), Into film (they train teachers to run after school film clubs)
Phew, even writing about yesterday is making me tired.
Last but not least, my stall of the day goes to the Royal Horticultural Society stand.
Before you think I was robbing a stall these were actually shoved into my bag by the lady when I told her I was a supply teacher, first she gave me the seeds, then the badges….then she just kept giving me stuff. I said to her I’m not actually at a school and she said she was giving me the stuff so that I could leave it at schools if I’d like and that supply teachers help to spread ideas about things like this. Wow. Top idea.
Okay, now I’m tired 🙂 If any links don’t work please let me know and also, can you spot the owl badge in any of the pictures above? (He’s the symbol for the Supply teacher network)