Interview with Daniel Aspinall, Oxford University Press

OUP Secondary team

2017 Secondary Publisher of the Year: Oxford University Press

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Daniel Aspinall and I am the Publishing and Editorial Manager for Secondary at Oxford University Press.

What Educational Publishing Award did you win in 2017?

In 2017, we were lucky enough to take home the Secondary Publisher of the Year award. This was a great honour for us – firstly because we had never won it before – but mainly because it is an award that is determined by the outcome of a survey conducted by the Australian Publishers Association of teachers, librarians and booksellers around the country. As these are the people we are here to help, it’s a lovely validation of all the hard work that goes into what we do.

What is it about your products that makes the quality so great?

At Oxford, we take our responsibilities to teachers and students really seriously, and ensuring great quality content is a large part of that. It’s really a team effort from start to finish. Our authors, publishers, editors, designers, production and permissions staff consults closely with partner schools at the start of each project to identify what they need. We then work hard to give it to them in a range of different formats that will suit their needs. In other words, we try to put our customers at the centre of everything we do.

Many of us have been teachers in our former lives, so we understand the importance of having resources that are designed to meet the demands of classrooms today. To do this, we trial content and digital resources with partner schools throughout development and work directly with teachers and students to ensure our books are appropriate for use in a range of different schools and classrooms.

How has winning awards at the EPAAs made a difference to your company?

As a company, I think winning the Secondary Publisher of the Year in 2017 helped us build credibility and trust with our customers. It’s a great award because the people who voted for us – teachers, librarians and booksellers – are the reason why we’re in business.

When it comes right down to it, though, I think the real value of the EPAAs lies in their ability to raise the profile of educational publishing in Australia as an industry. They make a difference for all of us by increasing awareness in the wider community about the importance of the work that we all do. It may not be terribly sexy, but developing high-quality, innovative print and digital resources that help improve learning outcomes for Australian teachers and students can be really rewarding. That’s the real difference we’re interested in making.

How do your resources improve educational outcomes for students?

That’s a really interesting question. On the one hand, it’s very simple and straightforward, but on the other hand it’s actually one of the most complex and pedagogically challenging questions going around at the moment – so, let me answer it in two parts.

At a local level, we do everything we can to ensure that our resources are accurate, appropriately levelled, aligned to curriculum and offer multiple entry points for students of all abilities. Many of the teachers using our products on a daily basis contact us to tell us about the positive impacts our resources are having with their students and also identify aspects of our resources that could be improved and refined. Teachers know their students better than anyone and are generally pretty happy to discuss their thoughts and feelings about what’s working and what’s not. To improve outcomes, you just have to be prepared to listen and act on this feedback.

On a global level, we are currently developing a consistent process for evaluating our educational products and services so that teachers, learners and parents can be sure that our resources make a positive difference. As a department of the University of Oxford, improving educational outcomes is fundamental to our mission as an organisation. By evaluating the impact of our products and services, we will be able to evidence the difference that our products and services make, and feed results into the product development process.

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