BRAINS AND BEAUTY – THE OTHER SIDE OF TEXTBOOK DESIGN

By Kate Moore - Head of Marketing

The Department for Education has announced its panel and judging criteria to determine which maths mastery textbooks will be included on their approved list for match funding. We are excited to have the opportunity to demonstrate how our materials meet the rigorous standards including curriculum coverage, mathematical coherence, use of mathematical vocabulary, progression and so on.

This month our editorial team submitted our books to the DfE alongside a raft of evidence demonstrating the value of the Primary Maths Series. It’s an impressive read, which goes into detail about the mathematical and pedagogical rigour of our books, but on reading our response, I notice we weren’t asked about the look and feel of the books. While it’s right that the DfE isn’t concerned about aesthetics, how our books look was an equally important part of their design.

When creating the Primary Maths Series we wanted to produce materials that were unlike any maths books a child had ever seen – engaging, unique and relevant for UK schools, with characters children will love and get to know.

So I’d like to share the more creative process behind the series, the beauty that goes alongside the brains…

Textbook Design  

Our design principles:

  • Consistent lesson layout – easy for teachers to plan lessons while providing a familiar routine for pupils.
  • Uncluttered – so that the pages are easy to read.
  • Beautiful to read – we commissioned over 2,500 illustrations of familiar objects to make the books attractive to read while being relevant to children.
  • Build a personal connection – the whole series features characters, some based on our employee’s own children, who explore the maths problems alongside the pupils. Everyone has a favourite character (mine is Charles).
  • Charles
  • Easy to read – we used the Castledown typeface because it assists children with dyslexia or other reading issues. The typeface was designed with Castledown Primary School in East Sussex.
  • Accessible – we went to considerable effort to design the books to cater for children with colour blindness and autism.
  • Fit for purpose – each illustration is carefully considered and never just for adornment. For example, sometimes objects are shown singly and sometimes they overlap to help teachers identify pupils who find it hard to distinguish between individual objects and may need additional support.
  • Real life – we’ve used real events, places and everyday examples within the questions. As this Year 5 textbook shows; yes, there really is a train going from Runcorn to Liverpool at 11am on a Monday!
  • Real Life Examples