What we do
Oriel Square lends you breadth and strength in education: to develop strategy, and publish

Read the first edition of our EdTech Insights report, pepared in collaboration with EdTech Publik from Hakeema.

Oriel Square lends you breadth and strength: to develop strategy, and publish.

Oriel Square is a trusted publishing partner to the most successful education companies in the world. We can work for you in all the key areas of content development, using market and policy expertise to deliver high-quality, effective digital and print publishing throughout school-age education.

We know that improving education transforms lives, and we want to use our expertise to help. We are committed to developing the global reputation of UK educational publishing and to helping everyone we work with to develop their skills.

Get in touch and from our very first meeting, you’ll see the impact Oriel Square can have; or sign up for our newsletter now.

Our work
We bring breadth to your publishing team

Oriel Square turns opportunities into publishing. Like you, we are immersed in education policy and the education market. Like you, we follow and contribute to the conversation. Take a look at what we've been doing recently in our latest termly newsletter.

We can work for you in one or more of the three key areas of content development for school-age education. Ideally you will involve us early to get maximum value from our expertise.

Analysis and strategy

We work with you to identify and develop opportunities for new products, services or markets.
Read about analysis and strategy projects we've delivered.

Research, thought leadership and concept development

We provide a deep understanding of the potential audience, and associated customer or user needs, and recommend in detail how your organisation can best meet them.
See examples of projects like this.

Delivery of digital development, editorial, publishing and design services

We can handle all aspects of project delivery for print and digital publishing, including any associated professional development or customer experience services.
Read examples of our publishing delivery.

What’s most important to you is your customer; so at Oriel Square that’s where we start. We’ll help you find opportunities to grow your list or expand your portfolio, and we’ll use our three-phase model to develop concepts into proposals, and proposals through to publication. From customer insight and strategic understanding we identify opportunity, then research and develop the concept for commissioning. Finally, we take the project through until it’s ready to go to press or to go live.

We also offer in-house, bespoke coaching, mentoring and training courses in-person and online across a variety of themes. Read about a training course we developed and delivered for a major educational publisher.

Get in touch and from our first meeting, you’ll see the impact Oriel Square can have.

Book Machine
Cambridge University Press
Carina consulting
Explore Learning
Hodder Education
McGraw Hill Education
ON the Edge Conservation
Oxford University Press
Pearson Education
The Publishing Training Centre
York Press
Our team
Lending you space and time to achieve more

What’s most important to you is your customer; so at Oriel Square that’s where we start. From opportunity to publication, our experienced team will be working for you at every step. Just as we can lead or facilitate strategic discussions, our publishers and editors are there to add breadth and strength to your team’s capacity, giving you and them the space and time you need to achieve more.

From customer insight and strategic understanding we identify opportunity, then research and develop the concept for commissioning. Finally, we take the project through until it’s ready to go to press or for switch-on.

Oriel Square is led by John Deans and Sam Derby. John and Sam have between them four decades of experience in the UK and international schools education markets, with leadership roles in a range of education companies, from digital startups to market leaders.

John Deans Director
John has 20 years of experience in UK and international educational publishing as editor, publisher and author.

He keeps in touch with the classroom through volunteering as an English teacher, teaching newly arrived workers in Oxford.
Sam Derby Director
Sam has 20 years of experience in educational publishing as editor, publisher and strategist. He has an active interest in education policy, is Chair of Governors at an Oxford primary school, and former Chair of the EPC's Primary Maths Panel.

Sam served on the Board of the consortium delivering the Global Learning Programme for DfID.
Hannie Kirkham Research and Business Development Manager

Hannie is an experienced publisher and editorial manager, working with publishing teams across the industry on a variety of outsourced education projects.

She's worked on inhouse teams delivering printed and digital resources for UK education, ELT and vocational markets.

Keira Moulding Research and Communications Editor

Keira has recently made the move to educational publishing after having worked in schools in China and London, either side of studying for a master's degree in Contemporary Literature in The Netherlands.

Keira has worked on development projects for a refugee education charity and hopes to keep up her work with schools and young learners.

Liz Cremona-Howard Editorial Manager

Liz has ten years of experience in educational publishing, working most recently as an editor and publisher for Pearson, one of the largest U.K. and global educational publishers, and has led several complex print and digital projects, mostly in Primary English and Maths.

Work with us
Be part of our team

We aren't actively recruiting right now. But we always want to hear from talented freelance schools publishers and editors: please get in touch.

Applications for these roles have now closed.

  • Design Manager
  • Digital Project Leader (or Digital Editorial Manager)

  • Contact
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    Consultancy and acquisition targeting

    Project background

    We were asked by a growing EdTech company to review their current organic growth strategy, review their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, research the current landscape in which they operated, and close adjacencies, and make recommendations about targets for acquisition or partnership in attractive global market segments.

    What we delivered

    We conducted interviews with C-suite and board members, developed a SWOT for the business and provided detailed value proposition and financial details including recent investment rounds on companies in the target segment, putting everything together into a board-level report for the CEO.

    Delivering new market and product advice

    Examples of projects include:

    • Advice on entering the assessment market for a UK educational publisher
    • Advice on entering the IB market for a UK international educational publisher
    • Creation of a new product proposal for a UK educational publisher in a particular subject

    Project background

    Our client asked us to provide advice on new market entry, with recommendations as to what advantages and disadvantages they has, and how they might mitigate them, or new product development.

    Our approach

    In order to deliver comprehensive recommendations, we undertook desk research, customer interviews and surveys, and expert product, market or curriculum reviews.

    What we delivered

    We delivered our findings in a report divided into three clear segments:

    • A diagnosis of the competitive situation relevant to the new initiative: A description of the new market and the strengths/weaknesses of our client relative to it; or a description of the customer needs in the current market relative to the current provision of products by the client and competitors.
    • A summary of how the client should (or should not) approach that situation. A go/no-go recommendation together with a summary of the reasons for that recommendation.
    • An action plan, including a detailed customer value proposition where we recommend the client goes ahead, and an outline of further research and go-to-market strategy.

    Values consultancy

    Project background

    We were contacted by a major global educational publisher because they wanted:

    • insights into the company values communicated by their competitors;
    • an understanding of the values that employees currently associated with their company;
    • strategy recommendations for selecting, implementing and communicating a set of company values.

    Our approach

    In order to gain insight into the competitive situation, we conducted desk research that summarised the company values of major competitors. We also analysed the ways that values are communicated across company websites, social media, employee and partner codes of conduct and annual progress reports. To develop an understanding of the values that employees currently associated with the company, we conducted eight interviews with key stakeholders. Once transcribed, we conducted qualitative analysis and determined the key themes.

    What we delivered

    Using our industry expertise and the findings from both the desk research and qualitative analysis, we produced a strategy report that detailed how the company should select, implement and communicate a set of company values.

    Senior job role and process consultancy

    Project background

    We were asked by a global education publisher to take into account the latest and upcoming changes to their core digital platform, industry best practice, and Oriel Square’s own direct experience of similar platforms in similar contexts, to:

    • Create a role description for the ‘Product Manager’ or ‘Product Owner’ of the platform
    • Advise on the best reporting line for the role within the client’s structure
    • Make recommendations regarding how to address potential operational and cultural impacts of the role

    Our approach

    Oriel Square Directors reviewed their own experience across the educational publishing industry (in Pearson heading up product management for ActiveLearn Primary, on Boardworks as Technology Director and at OUP leading the MyMaths Primary publishing team). We then completed desk research into best practice organisationally from technology innovators, focusing on the product owner/ product manager/ business interface role. From this initial work, we built three straw men to inform the interviews and shared it for feedback with the MD and a senior director at the client.

    What we delivered

    We completed interviews with key people on the product team and wrote up our recommendations into a final report, comprising:

    • A full job description for the new role
    • Two options for line reporting and management given the sensitivities around the new role
    • Recommendations for process change and cultural change in the organisation to make the most of the opportunity that the new role brought

    Education Insights for Cambridge University Press

    Cambridge University Press Education Reform

    Project background

    The Education Reform team at Cambridge University Press identified a need to take a galvanising position on international education policy reform, which could be held across all of their platforms. As part of this project, we were asked to:

    • facilitate a consultation with stakeholders and agree a central position;
    • commission, edit and deliver a compelling policy report, drawing on previous research and on research conducted for the report itself;
    • manage the overall process, selecting and appointing an experienced team;
    • support the launch of the report’s PR campaign.

    Our approach

    After appointing an experienced team, we devised an appropriate programme of research and commissioned contributors from around the world in a range of capacities; commissioning and editing articles, copywriting from author notes, copywriting from interview notes and ghosting from briefs. We developed files for both web and print.

    What we delivered

    We facilitated the delivery of a report that highlighted the primacy of teachers in educational reform. It featured contributions from eighteen industry experts and provided insights from around the world, including Nigeria, Uganda, Malaysia, Finland and Singapore. It was targeted at those involved in the reform process and was launched in two stages. Firstly, at Innovation Africa in Zimbabwe and secondly, at the Education World Forum in London.

    We subsequently developed a second report, this time on equipping learners with skills for the future, again in a global education context.

    Producing the first Oxford Language Report: Highlighting the word gap

    Oxford University Press

    Project background

    We have always seen Oriel Square as an integral partner for educational publishers: this is the industry we thrive in and are passionate about. So we were delighted that Oxford University Press chose Oriel Square to produce the first Oxford Language Report, drawing on recent research that highlighted the issue of the “word gap” and what successful schools have done to address it. The term “word gap” is typically used to refer to children in Early Years settings or pupils entering primary school with a vocabulary far below age-related expectations. However, research undertaken by Oxford University Press confirmed that the word gap can be present throughout a child’s education and beyond.

    Our approach

    One immediate benefit of working with us is the short amount of time it will take us to read into the project - because we try to stay up to date with the broad range of educational policy and research, we’re quick on the uptake.

    We know the best people in education. That means we can identify trusted specialist publishers, editors, writers, designers, researchers and contributors to form a credible team that will complement in-house expertise and fill any gaps you have in capacity or knowledge. OUP had a formidable array of in-house talent lined up to contribute, with the Strategy, PR and Communications teams primed to use the report to reach multiple stakeholders: media, education leaders, government, and their customers. Our awareness of and closeness to the educational policy, research and communications worlds means are a good partner to the PR team as well and could step in where needed. The experience of our directors in working with the senior teams of the educational publishing world means we can facilitate the meetings or approval process needed to get agreement on a position from a cross-functional group of in-house experts with different priorities.

    What we delivered

    The teams at OUP and Oriel Square were all delighted with the result: widespread coverage in the media of this important issue in education, and engagement from education policy-makers and influencers all keen to help close the word gap. All thanks to a high-quality report published within a tight time period (about 6 weeks from kick-off to completion).

    Examples of media coverage for the Oxford Language Report can be found here:

    • https://www.theguardian.com/education
    • www.bbc.co.uk/news/education
    • https://www.thebookseller.com/news

    Agile principles training to deliver a publishing project

    A global educational publisher

    Project background

    Our client was leading on the development of a brand new maths programme with multiple print and digital components. At the beginning of the project, Oriel Square delivered a bespoke in-house training course to help the team implement agile principles to run the project successfully.

    What we delivered

    Oriel Square ran a whole day workshop with the editorial, design and marketing teams who would be responsible for the delivery of the project. This session introduced agile principles and mapped out the workflows for the project.

    This was followed by a one-day workshop with the editorial and design team to workshop how to take these agile principles and embed them in the project.

    The final stage of training was a half-day one-on-one session in which the project manager reflected on what we had implemented as a team, what needed tweaking, and tools and strategies to develop long term planning and prioritisation.

    Working with local teams to produce CAIE-endorsed local-language content

    Collins IGCSE for Cambridge International Assessment

    Project background

    IGCSE Malay First language is a Cambridge exam for which Collins is publishing the course books. From manuscript to delivery, Oriel Square produced a student book and teacher’s guide, taking both through first-time endorsement for the Cambridge International IGCSE Malay syllabus. The course books provide teachers and learners with materials which fully prepare students for the exam, and expose them to a wide range of reading materials in Standard Malay as well as developing their writing skills.

    Our Approach

    Oriel Square set up a Malaysia-based team including:

    • reviewers teaching to Malay students to critique and review the materials, providing an independent check on quality;
    • consultants to give advice on cultural sensitivity in language, choice of texts and photographs and review of proposed writers' own language proficiency in standard Malay;
    • authors currently teaching Malay as a First Language in a classroom / IGCSE context to write lesson plans and student textbook pages.

    Before bringing potential contributors on board, samples of work were assessed to ensure the highest quality throughout.

    What we delivered

    From manuscript to delivery, Oriel Square produced a student book and teacher’s guide, taking both through first-time endorsement for the Cambridge International IGCSE Malay syllabus.

    Delivering a digital STEM product for class and after-school clubs

    A multinational online content provider

    Project background

    Our client wanted to ignite children’s interest in STEM careers by giving them first-hand experience of what it’s like to be a physicist, architect or engineer. To achieve this, we were asked to create a new and engaging digital product that would enable schools to deliver high-quality STEM teaching in class and after-school clubs.

    Our approach

    This project required our in-depth understanding of schools’ resourcing and current teaching around STEM, and how this would correspond to the content and approach of the new product. To do this we put together an experienced team of authors, editors, and subject experts to create a range of imaginative, real-world tasks and challenges.

    What we delivered

    The result was an exciting series of hands-on STEM activities for Foundation to Key Stage 3. Whether they’re testing a wind turbine or exploring alternative food sources by growing algae, this product empowers children to analyse and solve real-world issues.

    Maths metrication for a Middle East market

    A global educational publisher

    Project background

    Our client was publishing maths and science instructional materials for schools in the Middle East region. Another supplier’s previous metrication exercise (English/ Arabic) of Teachers’ Books and Students’ Books for grade 9-11 maths was not entirely successful. Sometimes metrication was done only in one language and had not always been done with regard to the resulting maths or realism, and in many cases, the answers had not been fixed to accord with the new unit of measure.

    Our approach

    Oriel Square commissioned a team of bilingual maths experts to review the material and make mathematical and cultural suggestions for edits based on the local context.

    For each component, Oriel Square compared the English and the Arabic for differences: looking at any metrication to make sure it was sensible; checking the answers; looking for cultural requirements/ style; ensuring Arabic–English correspondence throughout the materials.

    What we delivered

    Within a tight timeframe, Oriel Square reviewed the material’s cultural, educational and linguistic appropriateness. The review covered five key areas:

    • Pedagogy, methodology, and curriculum coverage
    • Design/ concept
    • Language level
    • Cultural issues for the Middle East
    • Customisation

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