Starting a new job can be daunting for anyone, but starting your first job in an industry you’ve worked so hard to get into is scary and exciting in equal measures. I’m in my first week as Bright Red’s newest employee; as a Publishing and Marketing Assistant. However, my association with them started many years ago. I was introduced to the Study Guides and, at the time Past Papers, back in 2012 when I was sitting my Standard Grades and Intermediate 2s. To this day I maintain I would not have been able to achieve the grades I did in Chemistry, Physics and Computing without them.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2020, after finishing an undergraduate degree in International Politics I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career. I loved reading and being surrounded by books so I applied for a place on the MSc Publishing course at Edinburgh Napier University. I was successful! The course allowed us to learn about all aspects of publishing and an opportunity to get real life experience working in the publishing industry. I managed to secure a placement with none other than Bright Red. Over the ten weeks I worked with them I was able to develop many skills, such as proofreading, typesetting and dealing with over matter. This time brought out a passion for educational publishing I didn’t realise I had but it’s safe to say I was hooked.
Then when the opportunity to interview for an internship came along, I jumped at the chance. I became the first paid intern for Bright Red and spent from September to December learning even more from the team, which included creating social media strategies, writing e-newsletters and recording a video about the BGE Maths Coursebook.
After a rather fruitless job hunt at the beginning of 2022, I saw Bright Red were hiring for an entry level position and I bit the bullet and applied. I was successful again! Which brings us to today, the beginning of my first week in my new role. I know I have a lot to offer to the team and more to learn but I can safely say without Bright Red my life would look very different right now. So, you never know one day you could be relying on our Study Guides to pass National 5 Chemistry and ten years later you could be introducing yourself on the blog of a publishing company you have always admired.
We were really thrilled to be a sponsor of the SYP Scotland Conference this year and had the opportunity to write a post about how the pandemic has affected our publishing and how we are refreshing our plans and looking ahead to the future. We thought we’d share this post here too so you can find out more about what’s been happening behind-the-scenes over the last year.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the first thing that seemed to disappear for most people was control. There have been titanic changes to social interactions, approaches to working and how businesses operate. The publishing industry has not been untouched by this – the effects of COVID-19 have ricocheted throughout our sector, affecting both SME and conglomerate businesses nationwide with disruption permeating everything. Businesses have been forced to adapt, to reflect on why things have been run in a certain way and question whether they could be run differently in order to survive and flourish. All in an attempt to take control of what had suddenly become a very uncertain present and challenging future.
Small publishers are perfectly placed to change what they do and innovate quickly. They are also often built on the idea of doing things a little differently. An ability to alter business models has been crucial for the survival of all publishers during the pandemic. With schools shut, exams cancelled and all learning moved online, Bright Red transitioned to home working and a more digital approach in order to meet the new learning demands. Fast-tracking our digital mindset has been pivotal to navigating through the many, ongoing challenges the pandemic has created. With trade establishments feeling the full force of national lockdowns, having our own online shop and independent warehouse in Fife meant we could continue supplying learning materials to the thousands of students in need of our resources. We approached social media with renewed gusto, highlighting our award-winning (and free) online learning platform that in turn saw an uplift in print sales, which are so crucial for a small, independent, business.
For Scottish publishers, there’s been a definite shift towards becoming digital content creators and experience providers. In educational publishing, there has been an increased demand nationwide for learning material and entertainment for children/young adults and therefore, a call to meet those needs. Posting daily challenges, creating playlists of video content on our YouTube channel and updating our Digital Zone saw a surge of website traffic and sales, and also a wave of appreciation for providing resources that could help students remain on track. With our loyal customer base and support, we reshuffled our publishing plans, focussing on getting our backlist fully updated before we pushed forward with new titles (and exciting new product launches).
Although schools and shops remain closed (and exams have also been cancelled this year), we are looking forward to the months ahead with renewed hope and continuing with what we do best – publishing high-quality, bespoke books for the Scottish curriculum that fulfil a pressing need. As a small publisher, we are able to publish into niche subjects or subjects that have historically had smaller cohorts, making us stand out from our competitors. Our books are unique in their features and presentation – they put the student at the very heart of the content and we feel that shines from the pages of our books. We are thrilled to be in the process of producing sets of revision cards for National 5 subjects – something new for Scotland and a direct response from teacher feedback.
As Scotland navigates its way out of the pandemic, it is companies that have been able to adapt, to change their outlook and move with the times, utilising the benefits of a digital community, that will be most likely to survive and, ultimately, thrive.
In the UK, March has thrown us a massive curve-ball and things seem quite topsy-turvy right now. With so much uncertainty, we wanted to share with you some top tips on how to find a study-routine that works for you at home, offer some suggestions of where you can find resources to support your learning and websites that you can trust to get the latest, most up-to-date information about the pandemic.
Where to find trusted information about Coronavirus
For your mental well-being, it may be wise to limit how frequently you check for updates about the pandemic – you can easily start to feel overwhelmed by all the information. Use gov.uk for reliable, trusted advice, which clearly outlines what you need to do. Young Scot also have a wealth of information on their website all about Coronavirus. It’s a good place to look if you want to find out more about what’s happening and how you can prevent catching COVID-19 and spreading it to others. There are also articles there that advise what to do if you’re feeling anxious and how you can support others in your community. Check out their forum of articles here.
How to establish a routine
For many people, their routines will have been completely thrown out of the window so establishing some kind of schedule for yourself, may help settle anxieties and help you find some normalcy in day-to-day life.
It can be very tempting to have a lazy start to your day but if you’re able to, sticking as closely to your normal routine get-up-time as you can will help your days feel structured. Setting your alarm to go off at the same time each day and creating a daily structure featuring work, breaks and workouts can help to establish a new kind of routine, which in turn can benefit your mental and physical health.
Getting into the right mind-set of learning at home can be a real challenge along with knowing where to begin. At Bright Red, we have a number of resources you can use to aid you with your home-learning journey. We have a free online learning platform, the Bright Red Digital Zone, which is packed with activities, tests, video links and additional content across a broad range of subjects. You could use the platform to tackle an entire subject over time or just use it to dip in and out of units that you need a little extra support with.
Investing in our books is another great way of continuing to learn at home. They cover all the course content and are the next best thing to being taught in a class with their engaging, colourful spreads and bespoke features. You can browse our full range of titles here. We also have a YouTube channel, which hosts 45+ subject playlists of videos which you can incorporate into your daily routine and you can take part in the challenges on our Twitter page, which will help stretch your knowledge and understanding of topics.
Peppering your day with activities you enjoy doing at home will also help break up the day and bring you joy. This may be reading, baking, watching an episode of your favourite TV programme, playing games etc. Alternatively, why not take up a new hobby? Get creative in the kitchen (we have a Health & Food and Technology Study Guide and a Practical Cake Craft Study Guide), try out your arts skills, learn a new language (check out our Language Study Guides) or find out more about a subject that you have gaps of knowledge in.
Exercise is also so important – Joe Wicks has launched his ‘PE with Joe’ daily live lessons (find out more here) and there are some wonderful exercise classes you can partake in online which are easy to do at home with minimal or no equipment at all.
During this time, you need to protect your mental health as much as possible. As a result, you might need to redefine what you deem as a ‘successful day’. Try and stay as positive as you can, remember that each day that passes is one day closer to this all being over and to reach out to friends and family if everything is feeling a bit much.
Lastly, just a reminder that we are here for your learning needs and are happy to help in whatever way we can. You can save 25% with the discount code: SUPPORT2020 on our website to get those books you need (plus you’ll be making a huge difference to a small, independent publisher) and we’re available to answer any questions or queries you may have via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Stay safe and all the best with your home-learning.
Exams coming up? Not sure where to begin with revision? At Bright Red, we understand that the exam period can be a tad daunting. We’ve all been through exams so can fully relate to how you might be feeling and can help give you a gentle nudge in the right direction to help you tackle those exam nerves and help you walk into your exam with confidence.
Here are our top tips to help you revise for your SQA exams:
Start your revision early
The earlier you start revision, the more time you will have to get fully prepared for your examinations. It can be tempting to put off doing revision but starting months in advance and doing a little bit of work each day will allow you to avoid any last-minute, panicked cramming sessions.
Plan, plan, plan!
Making a revision timetable can help you visually map out how long you have until your examinations. It can help you plan your time effectively and ensure that you’re allowing yourself revision breaks and some social time too. You can create a revision timetable in a notebook or by using Word or by using templates online (Get Revising offer a brilliant, free Study Planner template – check it out here).
Find your study space
Finding a distraction-free space really helps when it comes to getting focused with revision. If you can, choose somewhere that has natural light and where you have plenty of space to spread your notes out and get in the zone. This may be in your bedroom, in the kitchen, at school or in a library. Keeping things nice and tidy around you can help you stay focused and on track with your revision.
Use Study Guides
Study Guides are a brilliant way of filling in any gaps in knowledge and consolidating what you’ve learnt in class. We have 65+ Study Guides from N4 – AH level across a huge range of subjects so definitely check out our website here and pick up any Study Guides in subjects that you feel like you need a little extra support in.
Jazz up your notes and use mnemonics!
Add colour and illustrations to your notes – this will make them more visually appealing and will help all that studying stick. Using mnemonics is a good way of shortening your notes and making concepts and facts easier to remember.
Practice makes perfect – register for our Bright Red Digital Zone which has tonnes of activities (Things to do and think about questions) and tests so you can identify both your strengths and any gaps in knowledge. Past Papers are also a super way of testing yourself and assessing what you do and don’t yet know. Check out the SQA website here.
It’s important to take plenty of breaks in order to revise effectively and avoid burning yourself out. It’ll also help you to stay motivated and allow yourself to relax! Try going for a run, watching an episode of your favourite show or simply treating yourself to a cup of tea and a piece of cake.
Look after yourself
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night so you can recharge properly and wake up feeling fresh and alert. Drink lots of water, avoid all-nighters and try and eat as healthily as you can to keep your energy levels up!
One of the biggest benefits of being a wee publisher is that we can take on teacher feedback and publish into smaller subject areas that may have limited or no resources available. This was the case for our two latest publications – over the years we have been approached numerous times for Media Study Guides at National 5 and Higher level. After eighteen months of hard work and development, we are delighted to have published both a National 5 and a Higher Media Study Guide. It’s one of the most rewarding aspects of publishing, to fill the need for resources and publish books that will make a real difference to teachers and learners. As with all our books, we work with the very best teachers and subject experts, to turn a book proposal into the tangible book that you see on a shelf. Helping students to achieve their potential is really at the heart of what we aim to do at Bright Red and we are so pleased to have been able to produce books for these two Media courses. By filling this market need, we hope not only to help those currently taking these courses but to encourage more learners to consider Media as one of their qualifications, now that there are resources to support them in their studies.
Our National 5 Media Study Guide provides thorough coverage of this creative, communicative course. We’ve worked closely with experienced teacher Alexandra Mattinson to create a book that is packed with brilliant content and activities to complement what learners cover in the classroom. Each page has been thoughtfully designed to embed the seven key aspects of the course content and fundamentally appeal to students. The illustrations are eye-catching and the content is presented in a clear and aesthetically pleasing way that it’s easy for learners to pick out the key points and consolidate their knowledge.
The content of the book mirrors the structure of the course and will help learners prepare for the Question paper (exam) and the Assignment. The book covers the content-based key aspects (categories, language, narrative and representation) as well as the context-based key aspects (institution, society and audience). Its methodical approach will help guide learners through the course with confidence, aided by our bespoke features which will help cement and stretch students understanding. Additional support is available on our Bright Red Digital Zone – our free, online learning platform that is bursting with extra content, video links, activities (with the answers provided) and online tests.
Our Higher Media Study Guide similarly provides extensive coverage of the course content and is written by subject experts, Wendy Elrick and Keith Hay. We’ve had the pleasure of working closely with both authors to create a resource that meticulously follows the Higher Media course and will help learners in a number of ways. By using this book, learners will be able to analyse and create media content, build their understanding of the key aspects of media literacy, develop their knowledge of the role of media within society, advance their research skills and master their ability to self-evaluate. Revision can be incredibly daunting for students but this book will offer them an excellent starting point and expertly guide them through the challenges of the course up to the examination day. Like our National 5 Media Study Guide, there are bespoke Bright Red features on every page that are designed to reiterate key points and offer direction for further reading on our Bright Red Digital Zone.
Creating new content for the market can be hugely challenging but the end result makes the whole process so worthwhile. We are really delighted with both these books and are excited to be publishing into a new subject field, providing guidance and support for students in an area where before now, resources have been limited.
View our National 5 Media Sample Pages here and our Higher Media Sample Pages here.