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An important way in which OUP furthers the University’s mission is by developing classroom resources that help teachers to do their jobs—and they need most support during times of curriculum change.
Last year the Press was able to support transition in UK secondary science by creating a series of resources for students and teachers working towards three new GCSE Science qualifications.
A delay in specification accreditation meant that publishers had just a few months to produce resources and, in response, the UK secondary unit created a multi-department team to take care of the project from product concept and design to marketing and sales.
What resulted was a series of high-quality resources with 120 components which helped teachers get to grips with the new curriculum, and to focus their students on the subject. Each of the courses was also supported by an online site, allowing teachers to assign homework to their students for access at home.
In a fiercely competitive sector, OUP was the first publisher to bring its resources to the market, which resulted in high take-up and positive feedback. Mark Whillier, Head of Science at Cowes High School on the Isle of Wight was one of those who was convinced. ‘I’m very impressed with OUP’s new Twenty First Century Science books,’ he said. ‘Very good differentiation and lots of great up-to-date photos and new content. They look like great science books.’
For Science Publisher Les Hopper, the project was a big success—both for OUP and the teachers it serves: ‘Our team focused on getting the right support into schools at the right time,’ he said. ‘Blending the complementary strengths of print and digital media we were able to supply flexible and wide-ranging resources that teachers can either pick up and use or customize to their students’ needs.’
‘Our team focused on getting the right support into schools at the right time. Blending the complementary strengths of print and digital media we were able to supply flexible and wide-ranging resources that teachers can either pick up and use or customize to their students’ needs.’
Science Publisher Les Hopper
At the heart of the Press’s work is support for education systems around the world, and its publishing activity in Southern Africa this year highlighted commitment to its mission in this field.
OUP has been publishing school books in South Africa for more than six decades, but since 2009 the entire education system has undergone significant reform, with implications for our publishing.
A fundamental review of all subjects has led to a reform programme across all school years due to be implemented in full by 2014, with new syllabi aimed at reducing the administrative load on teachers and focusing on developing students’ knowledge and skills.
The changes included an overhaul of all subject content guidelines across 12 school years, providing a tremendous challenge for OUP’s Southern Africa branch looking to provide students and learners with resources to support them through this transition.
The team created and implemented editorial, production, sales, and marketing campaigns, which included writing textbooks in up to 11 official languages to short deadlines set by the Department of Basic Education. OUP published two new courses including 536 titles in a single year, with expert writers, an in-depth market research programme, and a sound pedagogical approach.
OUP Southern Africa Managing Director Lieze Kotze is proud of the impact her team has had on teachers’ and students’ lives: ‘At the heart of our success was a deep belief that we can make a difference to education in South Africa. Through a combination of detailed planning, clear communication, and a healthy dose of flexibility and tenacity, we have been able to ensure that teachers in the diverse classroom environments of South Africa will have appropriate materials to teach with.’
The Southern Africa branch continues to work on resources for the curriculum and syllabi, with submissions for further year groups and subjects to follow in the coming years.
'Through a combination of detailed planning, clear communication, and a healthy dose of flexibility and tenacity, we have been able to ensure that teachers in the diverse classroom environments of South Africa will have appropriate materials to teach with.’
Lieze Kotze OUP Southern Africa Managing Director
Education systems around the world are becoming more technology-focused, and a growing part of OUP’s work centres on helping teachers and students to prepare for the digital world.
Australia provides just one example of where the Press was active in digital education last year. The Australian Government is investing more than AU$2 billion (£1.3 billion) in its Digital Education Revolution programme to integrate information and communication technology in Australian schools, and the country introduces its first ever national curriculum over the next five years.
The OUP Australia and New Zealand team spent much of last year developing solutions to help students and teachers to prepare for both challenges, developing its ‘Big Idea’ learning framework, which enables students to develop deep, transferable understanding and skills.
The programme includes the new Oxford Big Ideas textbook series which benefits from blended learning materials of traditional print and important new digital formats. This incorporates the obook, an internet-style environment which allows students to navigate quickly through digital resources. Each parcel of knowledge is linked to interactive activities and media—such as animations, video, images, and internet links—to deliver deeper learning opportunities.
Linking directly into the obook is the assess platform, a new assessment and tutorial programme to enhance learning. The tool encourages students to become independent learners and provides them with the tools to fix the problem themselves.
Feedback from school teachers about the technology has been encouraging, with positive comments about the digital products’ layout as well as the format and structure of the content which encourages active learning.
OUP Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Peter Van Noorden believes the resources will make a real difference in the schools they are designed for: ‘Through responding to the needs of teachers and learners we have produced a range of materials that mesh closely with the new Australian Curriculum. In doing so we are enabling students to develop deep, transferable understandings and skills whilst helping to prepare them for the digital age.’
‘Through responding to the needs of teachers and learners we have produced a range of materials that mesh closely with the new Australian Curriculum. In doing so we are enabling students to develop deep, transferable understandings and skills whilst helping to prepare them for the digital age.’
Peter Van Noorden OUP Australia and New Zealand Managing Director
Increasing dissemination and reaching new audiences is a key part of OUP’s mission, and as Brazil is the world’s sixth largest economy and a growing educational market, it was a key focus for the Press last year.
The Brazilian schools market is quickly evolving and a recent development has been the move to the ‘sistema’ model in which schools purchase content, curriculum design, teacher training, technology platforms, and assessment in one coherent package.
Branded Achieve Languages, OUP’s programme combines manuals, forms, and procedures to support schools as well as specially selected books, supplementary reading, and digital learning support. A particular focus is also put on professional development, and teachers are encouraged to reflect on different aspects of their roles in order to improve students’ learning.
A string of private language schools have taken up the Achieve Languages offer and feedback has been positive. Heláde Cappai, a school Managing Director in Belo Horizonte praised the course for helping her school to get ahead: ‘Achieve appeared to us as a facilitator. It allowed us to take a step forward in the market for language schools, giving us credibility and structure so that we can be even more competitive.'
Emma Bourne, International Development Director for OUP’s English Language Teaching division, added ‘Achieve Languages presents us with a unique opportunity to expand our reach. Schools adopting our system have an all-round solution to ensure students’ educational goals are met. This puts them in a strong position to capitalize on the economic growth Brazil is experiencing.’
‘Achieve appeared to us as a facilitator. It allowed us to take a step forward in the market for language schools, giving us credibility and structure so that we can be even more competitive.'
Heláde Cappai school Managing Director, Belo Horizonte