Oxford University Press

New KS3 Shakespeare series

The brief

OUP wanted to carry out research to discover if a new KS3 Shakespeare series would be attractive to schools, and wanted to test a range of design options with teachers to see which learners and teachers at this level would find most appealing. In addition to this, OUP were keen to test the effect that a partnership with a well-known Shakespeare brand might have on the uptake of the series.

In order to achieve this, OUP needed to gain an understanding of the impact of the KS3 curriculum changes in schools and the needs of teachers and learners at this level.

Our approach and methodology

To gain an understanding of what teachers wanted from such a resource and to receive their feedback on a series of designs, Shift Learning ran three focus groups with heads of English departments and KS3 English Coordinators throughout key UK locations: London, Manchester and Birmingham. A carefully designed script, explored teachers’ reactions to the new curriculum and the ways in which a new resource could address potential challenges they might be facing in this area. As part of the 2 hour focus groups, teachers were shown a series of design mock ups for the new series, and were asked about price models and additional support materials.

In addition to this, we carried out four sixty minute telephone interviews using conferencing software GoToMeeting with teachers from schools in rural areas to ensure a further geographical spread. Our script addressed the same topics as the focus groups, but allowed for a more in-depth conversation to compensate for the smaller number of these interviews.

Delivering results and value to our client

The detailed discussions with heads of department and key stage 3 coordinators meant OUP gained a clearer picture of how to design a Shakespeare series that teachers at this level would be likely to purchase. Our analysis of the focus groups and interviews was able to provide clear, practical guidance on the design, branding and marketing of the series, which OUP subsequently launched in 2016.

All of our research findings from the telephone interviews and focus groups were delivered in a final report and in-person presentation at the OUP offices.