Formed on 1 August 2021, Cambridge English provides learning, assessment and qualifications for learners and teachers of English. We have ambitions for major growth, by offering new ways to learn, differentiating our services and extending our customer range.
“People believe that if it’s a product from Cambridge, it’s going to have quality. It has gone through a process of rigour to get here. It has been adequately researched. It’s trusted,” says Francesca Woodward, Global Managing Director, English. We are the market leader in English teaching, learning and assessment – across schools, higher education, adult education and migration, with both world-class assessment and learning backed by one of the most revered research universities in the world. Every day of the year learners around the world took one of our assessments, totalling some 6.1 million assessments.
Planning and integrating
Our key driver for integration was to provide joined-up, more integrated solutions for English, as the people buying our publishing are also the people wanting to take our exams. Creating a top-class learning and assessment experience that’s proven to deliver better English language teaching and better performance and exams is the culmination of working collaboratively across our former publishing and assessment team for more than a decade. We had already worked closely together on developing joint capabilities, joint products and services and had grown a major business in Cambridge Exams Publishing.
The first year focus has been on bringing our different teams together. Organisational design work was completed in our three major business functions of propositions, commercial markets and marketing and research. Customer services has been integrated so that learners and teachers, whether they originally found Cambridge via the former Press or former Assessment, are now coming to a combined English customer services team.
We have also refreshed our strategy for future investments and are working through measures to improve productivity in key areas.
In April the group reached a key milestone in its integration journey, launching a new brand for English that is an extension of our organisational brand. Our film encapsulating its brand promise for English, ‘Where your world grows’, was viewed 6.8 million times. “We help English learners to progress no matter where they are in the world, no matter what age they are,” Fran continues.
“Our teams are working together to bring individuals and institutions the full range of products they want, offering integrated learning and assessment tools for English, via a single point of contact.”
Fran Woodward, Global Managing Director, English
We are experiencing strong recovery in international markets as pandemic restrictions are reduced or removed, and teachers and students return to the classroom. A challenge arose from changes in education policy in China, intended to reduce financial and homework burdens, which had a significant financial impact as schools there had to move away from after-school or weekend tutoring. The war in Ukraine meant changes to operations in
the region, with our priority being the support of our local team, partners, customers and students. We suspended new business in Russia at the outset of the invasion. High inflation globally may impact future demand as parents make difficult choices about their domestic expenditure and spending on children’s education.
High performance in occupational English
Our joint venture, Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment Trust, which provides the Occupational English Test assessments to the health community globally, again performed very strongly this year, growing and outperforming expectations.
“We draw on our ability to innovate, to digitise, and transform. We’ve demonstrated we can do this time and time again.”
Francesca Woodward, Global Managing Director, English
Our colleagues worked closely with partners and external suppliers to create IELTS Online, which launched in 2022 to provide IELTS test takers around the world with the option to take their secure test at home. It has the same content and format as the existing pen-and-paper and computer-delivered IELTS tests, including a real-time face-to-face speaking test, delivered online by trained IELTS examiners.
We own the world’s leading English language online platform, the Cambridge Learning Management System, and began the huge job of migrating millions of users across to a new and improved platform, Cambridge One. We now have 7.3 million registrations and saw 50 million online sessions during the year.
Looking to the next few years, we now have good traction on our long-standing challenge of how to transform high-stakes assessments. In English we are on track for moving from manual, paper-based assessment into a digital product, while elsewhere we have focused on digitising assessment operations.
We launched an integrated learning and assessment product Test and Train which is already gaining momentum, helping people learning for one of our assessments to get short, sharp test practice workouts through the same product.
Along with using data to develop customer focused products such as Test and Train, we are developing auto marking through a wholly-owned subsidiary, English Language iTutoring (ELiT). The Linguaskill auto marker originated from research in the Cambridge Institute for Automated Language Teaching and Assessment, which has representatives from our teams working alongside the University departments of Computer Science and Technology, and Engineering, with technology transfer to ELiT Ltd.
ELiT’s auto-marking tools are built and maintained using data on how humans have marked language assessments in the
past. These markings are reviewed, corrected and then fed into Linguaskill’s algorithms, with people marking work continuing to be part of that process for a significant period of time. The degree of confidence is critical, and will differentiate our offer from our competitors.