Who’s who in the BETT 2016 Microsoft Partner Village

Following on from our earlier post all about Microsoft at BETT 2016 and ahead of next week’s exhibition – which sees the debut of the Microsoft Partner Village - our guest writer Gerald Haigh caught up with to those partners who will populating the village, to gather their thoughts on what it means to be a Microsoft Partner in Education at BETT.


Microsoft have made a significant contribution to the BETT experience this year by gathering together thirteen key partners in the Microsoft Partner Village, (Stand C300) next to the main Microsoft Stand (E310). The BETT website describes the project as, ‘A village of opportunity and collaboration between Microsoft and partners.’

Mark Stewart, Microsoft UK Education Partner Lead says,

‘The thirteen partners hosted by the Microsoft Village address, between them, education’s key requirements – from learning management, evidence based reporting, student generated learning to developing a cloud strategy and Teacher CPD. Microsoft prides itself on the great partners we have in education, for it is their contribution which really completes our story and delivers value for our customers.  It is the sum of the parts as they say; the combination of our technology and services, combined with the deep industry knowhow which our partners bring.’

And, adds Mark,

‘Of course, Microsoft will be there too and we look forward to seeing you at BETT 2016.’

The Village has its own theatre for presentations and speakers, and list of the Village partners can be found on the BETT 2016 website, along with a fuller, detailed list and timetable of Village partner presentations.

Here, then, as an appetiser, is a quick round-up, in no particular order, of the thirteen Village Partners.


Learning Possibilities LP+

Learning Possibilities, building on a successful track record with their SharePoint based LP+ learning platform, present, at BETT, their new LP+365 App.

Launched in December 2015, as a Global Alliance of Learning Possibilities and Microsoft, LP+365 transforms Office 365 into a whole-school learning management system running on the Microsoft Azure Cloud.

Larry Nelson, Microsoft Worldwide Education Partner Strategy Lead, says,

“The alliance of Microsoft and Learning Possibilities adds to our investment in the Office 365 for education which is offered free to schools. Learning Possibilities brings educational relevance to Office 365 through their expertise in learning platforms and technology adoption, carrying focus on learner engagement and driving digital competency.”  

During the Show, Stephen Heppell will speak on ‘LP+365 and Evolving Pedagogy’.


BFC Networks

Alex Pearce, Founder and CEO, explains that BFC, well known for the implementation of Office 365 Education in schools and councils, are now offering a number of ‘added value’ features.

‘We have Office 365 apps such as OneDrive Configurator allowing teachers to access student OneDrive, and also Cloud Classroom, an assignment based tool for teachers to Create, Assign, Watch and Mark.

‘With Cloud Classroom and Office Online in Office 365 teachers are able to see students type and leave comments which appear on the students page.  www.cloudclassroom.education

‘At BETT we are also launching Parent 365, for parents to log into Office 365 and see news, policies and calendars with future features including student results from Cloud Classroom, and MIS information.’

Alex will speak on this in his presentation, ‘Create, Assign, Mark and OneNote in Office 365’.



Familiar to many BETT visitors, Misco is a major public sector supplier of technology and also design and consultancy for schools. Their BETT presence provides an opportunity for customers to meet managers and contacts. It’s also an additional way of exploring Microsoft technologies, because they will be demonstrating how to make the best use of Microsoft products, such as Sway, OneNote and OneDrive, In addition visitors to Misco at BETT will be able to see and use the latest Microsoft Surface and Lumia devices as well as interactive touch screen technologies for the classroom.

Their presentation, by Helen Walker, Director at GreyBox Consulting will be called ‘Prepare teachers to transform learning with Microsoft Technology.’



SalamanderSoft, make it their business to take pain and complexity out of making school IT work for users. Lately they have been focussing on making Office 365 accessible and friendly in the classroom, and this is what they will be emphasising at BETT. Having seen Salamander’s work in schools, particularly with SharePoint Online in Office 365, I feel sure they are well worth a visit. As SalamanderSoft Richard Willis says,

‘The things we do are so that users can just get on with teaching and learning without having to spend valuable time setting up stuff.’

Their presentation, ‘Enabling Teaching and Learning with Office 365’ will be given by Steve Gillott, Assistant Headteacher at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, and Darren Hemming, Teaching and
Learning Consultant at SalamanderSoft.



With the mission statement, ‘Harness the power of the Cloud to provide more learning for less money’, Airhead sets out to capture and organise, via a ‘desktop’, what’s already out there in the Cloud to support learning. It has two main parts -- ‘Launchpads’, which manage and curate the web, and ‘Flightdecks’ for collecting resources.

The beauty of this structure is that teachers can collect, tailor and manage web-based resources to suit their own needs. All that’s needed to access the resources is any web-enabled device – so it’s ideal for the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ environment. Airhead, which won the BETT 2015 Innovation in ICT Award, is hosted in Microsoft Azure and fully integrates with Office 365.

At BETT Airhead Founder Jason Dixon, will speak on ‘Three ways to transform learning with Airhead.’


Ruler IT

Many of the products in Microsoft Partner Village are about making powerful technologies more easily accessible to busy people in school. So, for example, Microsoft Office 365 and the SIMS Management Information System from Microsoft Partner Capita SIMS are both, separately, ubiquitous in schools. ‘Ruler’ connects the two – SIMS, with Office 365 -- so that each can use features of the other. Just one key benefit is that SIMS always up-to-date core student database is available for all functions in Office 365, removing the need (and potential for error) of pupil data having to be entered separately. The result is increased efficiency, which ultimately supports learning by reducing the school’s overall administration load.

Ruler CEO Phil Smith will present in the Village theatre on: ‘Connect Microsoft Office 365 with Capita SIMS – Improve security, accuracy and efficiency.’


RM Education

Some BETT exhibitors are old friends, and we have followed RM, who have been at every BETT Show starting with the first one in 1985, through numerous phases of development to their current position as a major education technology provider and supporter for schools across the UK. This year they will be showcasing a wide range of Microsoft technologies, including, of course Office 365, and Windows 10 devices as well as showing the benefits of Azure cloud-hosting. Says RM’s Clare Coombs,

‘We're now looking to work with schools on their next big adventure in providing ICT to enhance education - the cloud. ’

She adds,

‘We're also exploring network management as a service options providing a completely cloud based network for primary schools wanting to use a range of different devices and operating systems.  Powered by Microsoft Azure and Intune we'll offer schools a hassle free network but still have full access to all resources that they need.’

David Wright, Lead Presenter at RM Education will talk on ‘Your Launch Pad to Cloud-based apps.’


Achievement for All

The Charity ‘Achievement for All’ runs highly successful school programmes focussed on transforming the life chances of the children who, for any reason, are in the lowest 20percent in terms of achievement. Microsoft has been working with them for over a year during which, together with Microsoft Showcase School Simon de Senlis Primary, they have produced cross-curricular support materials for the BBC nature film ‘Enchanted Kingdom’ . Now, Microsoft and ‘Achievement for All’ are developing a range of Continued Development Course designed to help teachers with the principles of teaching with technology.

An independent review by PwC of the impact of Achievement for All, published in November 2014 reported significant improvements in the performance of the target group of children, with pupils vulnerable underachievement exceeding national targets in writing by 53 percent and maths by 20percent.

Microsoft are proud to be in partnership with such a worthwhile endeavour.

Professor Sonia Blandford, Founder and CEO of Achievement for All will present on ‘Closing the attainment gap in schools-making it happen.’



AspiraCloud is the brainchild of a group of highly experienced, Microsoft SharePoint enthusiasts and experts with their roots in the real world of school. They believe that although Cloud is clearly the future, on-premise servers still have a part to play in a comprehensive IT environment.

Aspira Director and Co-Founder Adrian Edgar explains,

‘Our BETT talk is called “Head to the Cloud with your feet on the ground.” We shall be focusing on Hybrid solutions using Office 365 and SharePoint server, showcasing how to achieve the best value from the Microsoft Cloud and your existing services.

‘During the talk we will also investigate the concept of using Azure to extend or replace the on premises infrastructure.  Schools who want to use the cloud but still keep control over their services can do great things with Azure. ‘

The BETT presentation will be by AspiraCloud Director Seb Matthews, hopefully with the support of a teacher.



NetSupport’s education product, ‘NetSupport School’ -- the most widely used classroom management tool -- enables teachers to ‘orchestrate, control and collaborate’ the devices in their learning and teaching areas. The latest version, released mid-2015, is designed to capitalize on the features of Windows 10. With their new ‘Windows 10 Teacher App’, for example, optimised both for touch and desktop, comes integration with OneDrive and a launchpad for classroom and Office 365. That’s just one aspect of this highly innovative – and supportive – product. There are many others, including the new ‘NetSupport DNA’ which is an IT asset management suite.

To see and understand the full potential of a product that’s designed to make the most of the latest Microsoft technologies in support of teaching, learning and assessment, it’s clearly necessary to visit the NetSupport stand, talk to the people there and catch the presentation ‘Classroom and IT Asset Management from NetSupport’ delivered by Business Development Manager, Matt Jones.


Esri UK

A finalist in the 2016 BETT Awards, Esri UK is the UK’s leading distributor of GIS (Geographic Information Systems). According to the Geographical Association,

‘GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is one of the fastest growing software applications in the world…an exciting development in geography education because it brings an expanding area of new technologies into the classroom and fieldwork.’

Esri UK’s key school product is ‘ArcGIS Onliine,’ described as,

‘The largest repository of maps and geographic information in the world, providing pupils with information, ideas and inspiration for learning.’

Of particular interest to schools using Microsoft technology is the new availability of the ArcGIS ‘Collector’ app (for collecting data in the field) for Windows 10, in the Windows Store, and also the Esri ‘Maps for Office’ which creates interactive maps from Excel data.

At BETT, their presentation, ‘Apps, maps and analysis – how modern Web GIS can improve your school curriculum and management,’ will be delivered by Jason Sawle, Ersi UK’s GIS in Education Evangelist.



Having made a significant mark on education in the home country, Norwegian technology company Avantador is now, in collaboration with Microsoft, working to establish its Office 365 based digital learning platform ‘Skooler’ across a number of European countries including the UK.

Lars Gunnar, Avantador CEO says,

‘By offering Skooler as part of Microsoft Office 365 educational institutions can realise benefits such as reduced IT costs, reduced time spent on IT by teachers, and an increased level of individualised educational programmes.’

At the Show, Avantador’s Tor Ove Henrikson will present on ‘Skooler – Office 365 Portal for Education’.


Computing at School

If you teach – or wish to teach – computer science, then you need to know about CAS, and their presence in the Microsoft BETT Partner Village offers you an opportunity to find out more.

CAS, part of the Chartered Institute for IT, is a grassroots community of teachers, organised in regional hubs. CAS National Co-ordinator Simon Humphreys says,

‘It’s very much a community of practice that connects teachers to each other for mutual support, and we co-ordinate that.

Contact CAS at BETT to find your local hub and lead teacher, and discover the benefits for you and your school of being part of CAS. This includes the opportunity to acquire professional accreditation through the BCS Certificate in Computer Science Teaching, awarded on completion of attendance at appropriate CPD, a programming project and a classroom investigation.

Also available on the stand will be the CAS ‘QuickStart Computing’ CPD materials funded by Microsoft and the DfE.

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