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Educational publishing

The Education group saw another year of strong growth and two landmark agreements: the acquisition of a leading formative assessment organisation and a partnership with Unicef and Microsoft to tackle the educational crisis facing the millions of children displaced by conflict and natural disasters.

The two agreements, each a collaborative effort involving other parts of the University, speak to the growing reputation of the Press as a leader of international best practice and innovation in education, as well as to the ‘Cambridge Advantage’ – the power of the University to create value by acting together. 

We partnered with Cambridge Assessment in both the Unicef agreement (see separate panel) and in the acquisition of the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM), one of the most respected organisations providing formative assessments for children of all ages.

This exciting deal will accelerate our existing focus on formative assessment and personalised learning, underpinned by interactive digital technology, and enable us to support teachers in using evidence to provide richer, more individual learning programmes (see separate panel).

An unrelenting focus on teachers and their needs is central to all we do.”

Our goals are to be the leading publisher worldwide for international schools that follow a UK curriculum, and to have a significant presence in other schools that are turning to English as a medium of instruction for many subjects. Our strategy is supported by demographic, economic and social trends around the world. 

Governments, meanwhile, see the importance of raising student achievement standards to their country’s international competitiveness, and we are using our expertise in pedagogic best practice, and that of the wider University, to help ministries and school systems reform their education frameworks. 

For us, teachers and educators are the key agents in helping people learn and our role is to partner with them, where we add value and where we can use research-based approaches to support and amplify their impact. An unrelenting focus on teachers and their needs is therefore central to all we do.

Ahmed Saya, winner of our inaugural Dedicated Teacher Award
Ahmed Saya, winner of our inaugural Dedicated Teacher Award

The past year has seen our relations with teachers deepen through the expansion of initiatives to support their development. Our teacher advisory panels – online forums for us to involve teachers in the creation of new products and for them to share their experiences – have proved popular, with the community growing to 600 active participants by the end of the year.  

Our continuous professional development initiative, designed to share and support good teaching practice, also had a good year, with successful pilot programmes in Turkey and Indonesia, and plans to double their size and roll them out to other countries. The programme helps meet one of the biggest challenges facing our schools partners: having sufficient teachers able to deliver English medium classroom instruction. The early signs are that a strong appetite exists for what Cambridge can do to help with this challenge.

The year also saw the launch of our ‘Dedicated Teacher Award’. Students can nominate a teacher who has made a remarkable contribution to their life, be it in teaching skills, pastoral care, innovative lesson ideas or preparing pupils for later life. We were delighted when the prize gathered 4,000 nominations from around the world. The winner, Ahmed Saya, achieved national press coverage in his home country, Pakistan.

Jane Mann, the Press’s Director of Education Reform, visited refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar (Bangladesh) and Sudan with Unicef this year to research the ‘Learning Passport’.
Jane Mann, the Press’s Director of Education Reform, visited refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar (Bangladesh) and Sudan with Unicef this year to research the ‘Learning Passport’.

The Education group enjoyed increasingly strong market share positions. We saw strength in all areas of the business, but particularly good results in Australia, where over the past few years we have grown into one of the market leaders. Our record results there were led by our continuing success in mathematics, the roll-out of a new curriculum in Queensland and our increasing significance in other subjects, such as accounting, business studies and the sciences.

We saw continued growth in the strategically important Indian market, albeit at a slower rate than the previous year, against a background of difficult conditions across the industry. Supported by high regard for the Cambridge brand, we have been expanding our Indian footprint from international schools to the broader education market.

Elsewhere in Asia, we enjoyed good growth in Pakistan, China and South East Asia. In Africa, challenging conditions in South Africa were offset by expansion in Nigeria and exceptionally good results in markets as varied as Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Namibia. In Cameroon, we featured prominently in the government’s list of prescribed school texts.

Increasingly our customers are looking for texts that reflect their cultures, and we have adopted a strategy of being as local as possible and as international as necessary. During the year we enjoyed great success in publishing customised editions for particular clients, with substantial deals in Pakistan, China and Vietnam. 

The past year has seen our relations with teachers deepen through the expansion of initiatives to support their development.”

Among individual products, we saw continued success with Cambridge HOTmaths, the interactive online maths learning system that originated in Australia, with further roll-outs to South Africa and international schools.  

We were excited by the successful launch of Coding Sandpit, a series for computational thinking and programming, created in partnership with the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society. Aimed at young learners, it was launched in the Indian market and by year-end was being used by over 70,000 students.

Our Education Reform business agreed some substantial deals near the year-end that create a robust basis for the year ahead and confidence in the sustainability of the business. The contracts included a major deal with Qatar, for the reshaping of the country’s science courses, taught in Arabic.  

This has been a good year for Education in both our results and in what we have achieved in helping teachers have an even more positive impact on learners and learning. Having recorded double-digit compound growth over the past four years, we remain very excited about where this group goes next and what we can all achieve as part of ‘One Cambridge’.

Unicef and the ‘Learning Passport’

Just before the end of the financial year, the Press signed a Partnership Cooperation Agreement with Unicef, for the ‘Learning Passport’ project, which seeks to find new ways to support refugee and displaced learners.

The Unicef Learning Passport initiative involves a pan-Cambridge collaboration, drawing on people from the Press, Cambridge Assessment, the Faculty of Education, Department of Psychology, and Faculty of Engineering, with Microsoft as the technology partner.

Learning Passport’s mission is to ensure that all displaced children and adolescents are provided a quality learning pathway wherever they are in the world, and can receive a valued and recognised portable education to support their access to other opportunities and education routes, including formal education within national systems. The project is currently in the research and development phase, assessing the viability and feasibility of possible pilot models and locations, and has seen teams from Cambridge travel with Unicef to visit refugee centres in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, and Sudan, with further visits planned for the year ahead.

We are extremely proud to be working with Unicef and Microsoft in a way that is so aligned to the University’s mission of contributing to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence.

classroom in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh

Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring

Shortly after the end of the year the Press and Cambridge Assessment, our sister University department, agreed to acquire jointly the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM), one of the most respected organisations providing formative assessments for children of all ages.

Based in Durham, CEM uses scientific and evidence-based monitoring systems, and has been used by educational professionals for over 30 years in more than 70 countries. The Press has long recognised the importance of formative assessment in a child’s educational development. Our focus on this area has intensified with the advent of interactive, digital technology, which allows us to create much more personalised learning products. The acquisition of CEM will enrich and accelerate our journey in this direction.

CEM’s products include baseline assessments that give measures of a child’s potential and progress through school; diagnostic assessments that help inform teachers where interventions may be helpful to improve pupil outcomes; attitudinal questionnaires that help to give a deeper understanding of the learning environment as seen by children and young people; and entrance assessments that help identify the students that meet a school’s selection criteria.

Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring logo

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