OUP produces and distributes education publishing on a global scale. Its school businesses operate across 165 countries, providing excellent resources for K12 classrooms, and increasingly for pre-school and parental support. Many of the Press’s educational businesses provide new publishing to support education curriculum reforms, and such changes tend to follow a cyclical pattern. In 2016/17, there was extensive curriculum reform across many of OUP’s major education markets, providing the Press with greater opportunities to sell more textbooks; this year, however, fewer curriculum reforms took place, which dampened OUP’s sales performance.
The Press has also been exposed to government interventions in some of its schools markets. In India, for example, there have been efforts to mandate state-published textbooks, which has put additional pressure on both local and international publishers. In some cases government intervention gave rise to opportunity; in Kenya, OUP was able to bid for a significant contract to help the government achieve its ambition of providing every child across the country with a school textbook for the key secondary subjects.
The ongoing focus on improving standards and quality within education has led to more interest in professional development for teachers across multiple markets and OUP has responded to this by providing more development opportunities, training more than 440,000 teachers across the world last year. In Asia, the private education sector saw strong growth, as a rapidly rising number of parents are choosing to invest larger sums of money in their children’s education. Opportunities to support adult education are also growing, with a particular demand for English language learning materials, vocational resources, and job-oriented courses that improve employment prospects.
Digital products and services continued to rise in popularity, with both schools and governments recognizing the role education technology plays in helping to raise educational standards. OUP launched many successful products this year, promoting and supporting a shift towards a blended approach—a combination of both print and digital resources—to learning, and there was a notable increase in the number of teachers using interactive and digital content, particularly in South Africa, Australia, India, and the UK. OUP will carry on exploring opportunities to expand its digital offering in the future.