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Educational publishing

The Education group, one of the fastest growing businesses in its sector, publishes digital and print products used in schools around the world. Our global reputation for pedagogy and learning skills means we also have an expanding advisory practice helping governments and schools systems with educational reform.

Education enjoyed another year of very strong growth as increasing numbers of schools and governments around the world recognised the value of working with Cambridge University Press, and our colleagues in the wider Cambridge community, to create learning solutions that are both underpinned by research and tailored to customers’ local needs.

We strengthened our publishing position in key markets such as Australia and India, opened offices in Nigeria and Pakistan, and took on new educational reform contracts with governments in the Middle East and Asia.

The growth reflects the reputation of the Press – and that of Cambridge as a whole – for developing international best practice in pedagogy and learning skills, and providing the practical classroom tools to support this.

Governments and schools, particularly in developing countries, are looking ever more closely to international standards as they upgrade educational systems to equip their children with the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century. At the same time, the English language is becoming more important as a medium of instruction, which can be challenging for both teachers and students for whom it is not their native language.

Governments and schools, particularly in developing countries, are looking ever more closely to international standards as they upgrade educational systems.”

Against this backdrop, the Press helps customers not just with our expertise in publishing for schools, and in teaching and learning in English, but in harnessing the knowledge of other Cambridge departments. We work closely with Cambridge International Examinations to produce learning materials that are aligned to specific curricula and prepare students for international tests. Research from the University’s Faculty of Education ensures that all our learning materials have strong pedagogical underpinnings and can evidence impact in the classroom.

A focus of our current research, in conjunction with other University departments, is on what learning methods work most effectively with students pursuing an international curriculum where English is not their first language. The work encompasses the materials used, teacher training, the organisation of schools and the assessment challenges for these learners.

We are using the results to embed the most modern design principles in our textbooks and the most effective use of digital materials in the classroom.

However, as well as developing global products to answer universal student needs, we continue to listen to our customers in individual countries and create tools that serve their local requirements. The advice of teachers, who can make a vital difference to student performance, is crucial. We place their needs, and those of their pupils, at the heart of our product development.

During 2016–17 we set up Teacher Advisory Panels as forums for us to learn from teachers, and as communities for teachers to share their experiences. Grouped by academic subject, and bringing together teachers from around the world, these panels have become a permanent mechanism for testing and improving our publishing ideas at every stage.

This approach to educational development is captured in our new vision: ‘Brighter thinking, better learning.’

‘Brighter Thinking’ sums up the way we combine the best ideas in educational research with practical solutions to classroom issues – based on what teachers themselves tell us they and their pupils need.

‘Better Learning’ reflects our belief that a good education is not only about strong academic results but also involves acquiring broader and softer skills that equip children for life beyond school. It means our textbooks should go beyond preparing pupils for assessment to helping them acquire skills in thinking, problem solving and communication.

Versions of Cambridge HOTmaths have been  launched in India, South Africa and the UK
Versions of Cambridge HOTmaths have been launched in India, South Africa and the UK

Teachers’ receptiveness to our message was reflected in 2016–17 by our continuing expansion in developing countries. Again we saw an excellent performance from our Indian business – both in the top line and in how we have translated this into contribution and cash. We launched a new business in Nigeria with an office in Lagos and a team of 20 colleagues. In our first year we published over 120 titles in Nigeria and sold around 800,000 books.

This launch was led by our South African office, working with colleagues in Cambridge. Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy, and is a vibrant, exciting market where education and the Cambridge name are highly regarded. It is, of course, a challenging country – underscored by the devaluation of the Nigerian currency during the year – but our commitment is to the long-term, where Cambridge can make a positive, long-lived impact.

During the year we also opened an office in Pakistan, an important market for our colleagues at Cambridge Assessment.

While emerging economies are central to our growth strategy, and provided many of the year’s landmarks, our businesses in the mature UK and Australian markets continued to provide a firm platform for global expansion – and the testing grounds for leading-edge pedagogical and technical solutions.

In Australia, our secondary school mathematics products, blending text and digital materials, continued to perform well. Cambridge HOTmaths, our interactive online maths learning system, originally developed for the Australian market, continued its expansion around the world, with new editions launched in the UK, South Africa, India and for international schools.

International schools, where English is the language of the classroom, have been at the centre of our growth in emerging markets, but these are increasingly a bridgehead for us into private schools delivering curriculum in English, and even into some parts of state systems.

As well as developing global products to answer universal student needs, we know it’s important to listen to our customers in individual countries and create tools that serve their local requirements.”

However, our most important influence on state education is through our Education Reform business. Based on our pioneering work in evaluating education systems around the world, we operate in partnership with governments on large scale schemes to improve their teaching resources, develop their teachers, and build their capacity for the future. As in publishing, we believe in local solutions, based on our customers’ particular needs, supported by international models as necessary.

Educational Reform saw strong growth in 2016–17, building on our work in capacity development in Kazakhstan. We gained new contracts in the UAE, Thailand, the Maldives and Oman. Oman was the first tender we have won for the provision and development of materials in Arabic.

Digital revenues grew significantly during the year and we are continuing to invest ambitiously in digital technology that demonstrably improves support for teachers, the delivery of content and student assessment.

We are also investing significantly in unified central operating systems – in technology, workflow, procurement and talent management – that will support our continued expansion as a flexible, global publishing network, based on brighter thinking and better learning.

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