The pandemic and publishing

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.

Control?

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.

Alternate

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).  

Refresh!

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.

Image of our Revision Cards (the jacket covers which are red for Biology, orange for Chemistry, yellow for Physics and purple for Mathematics and all have jumping outlines of students on them).

How to find a routine for home-learning

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.

Person writing in a notebook
Finding your study routine. Source: Unsplash.

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.

Alarm clock on a table
Set your alarm to go off at the same time each day. Source: Unsplash.

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.

Screenshot of the Bright Red Digital Zone log in page
Bright Red Digital Zone

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.

Example of ‘P.E. with Joe’ Daily Lesson

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 (info@brightredpublishing.co.uk).

Stay safe and all the best with your home-learning.

Flat-lay of home-learning necessities
Home-learning. Source: Unsplash.

How to revise for the SQA exams

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.

Two friends standing next to each other. One friend gesturing and saying 'Always Be Prepared'.
Always be prepared – start your revision early

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).

Boy rolling out plan of action
Create a solid revision plan

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.

Man rubbing his hands together and getting ready to type
Find your space and get in the zone

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.

Boy with pencil behind his ear, looking over worksheets
Use Bright Red Study Guides and Course Books

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.

Man playing a musical instrument enthusiastically
Jazz up your revision and class notes

Test yourself!

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.

Girl writing on blackboard
Practice makes perfect with Bright Red

Take breaks

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.

Hedgehog floating around a bath tub
Take time to relax

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!

Sleepy duck drifting off over class notes
Get enough sleep and look after yourself

Best of luck.

For more top tips and advice on different study techniques, check out our Learn to Learn Study Support Guide. It’s also worth checking out our Twitter and Instagram pages for additional revision tips!

New (books) on the block

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.

National 5 and Higher Media Study Guides being held up again a wall in a woman's hand.
Our National 5 and Higher Media Study Guides

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.

student holding pen over open book at a table
Student in classroom setting

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.

Screenshot of the Bright Red Digital Zone Home Page
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.

A (Bright) New Year

There’s something very exciting about the start of a new year, particularly when it’s also the start of a new decade. It’s natural to take time to reflect over the past years, identify both the highs and the lows and to reminisce. Ten years ago, Bright Red was still very much in its infancy and just starting to bring innovative, fresh Study Guides into the marketplace that students, parents and teachers could depend and rely on. It’s wonderful to see how much the company has grown in that time – we’ve published more than 65 Study Guides from National 4 to Advanced Higher level and more recently, have expanded into publishing Course Books for Broad General Education.

Continue reading “A (Bright) New Year”