The Educational Publishing Awards are committed to rewarding excellence and innovation in the publishing industry at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. We have put together a series of interviews with the publishers, editors and individuals involved in the creation and development of educational resources.
Today we caught up with Gail Glendenning from R.I.C. Publications to talk about The Maths box, a shortlisted entry for the Primary: Student Resource – Mathematics  award.
The Maths box series fully supports the teaching and learning of Australian Curriculum Mathematics for Years 1 to 6. Could you tell us how this product works?  
The Maths box series is a set of six boxes with 75 unique cards in each box for students to work on independently or in small groups. It also provides a comprehensive teachers guide with curriculum links for each card, student and teacher tracking sheets to identify areas of difficulty within the classroom, support resources (including worksheets for further teaching and mini posters of key concepts), full-colour answer cards, glossary of mathematical terms and a unique sample card to assist teachers to demonstrate how to use the cards.
The cards expose students to a range of question types, including multiple choice, short-answer and true or false questions, while covering all strands and sub-strands of the Australian Curriculum Mathematics. The cards are colourful and appealing with all artwork created by in-house graphic designers to engage and motivate students while reinforcing mathematics concepts. Additional activities on each card provide further practise or extension for students after completing the questions.
What was the motivation behind publishing this product?
Following the success of The Literacy Box and The Comprehension Box series, R.I.C Publications identified a need for a similar product to assist teachers to develop Mathematics knowledge and skills in their classroom that is also appealing to the students. The Maths box was designed to provide time-poor teachers with planning, teaching and assessment material in a compact, easy-to-use product which focuses on learning in an engaging way and can be re-used multiple times. It is a great value-for-money product in a time where budget allocations are strict.
What impact does The Maths box have in schools? Is there a need for teachers to use this resource?
The Maths box series is a comprehensive resource targeting individual or small-group learning, allowing the teacher time to provide additional instruction to students who require support or extension. It also allows the teacher to check students’ work during the lesson to intervene and correct any misconceptions prior to students completing the card incorrectly.
The teacher tracking sheets in the teachers guide allow the teacher to monitor progress and identify any concepts that need further instruction or any students that require additional support or extension.
It is not designed as a complete program, but a complementary resource for existing programs that may be mandated in the school. It provides opportunities for students to revise and practise concepts covered in mathematics lessons.
Its success so far in the Australian market has led to international markets requesting adapted versions of The Maths box series to sell in to their markets.
What are your views on the current Australian education landscape? 
Education has moved away from teacher-directed learning to a student-centred approach. In mathematics there is more emphasis on hands-on learning through the use of manipulatives.
There are increasing demands and pressures placed on teachers, and their workload is increasing as a result. Time is a precious resource for teachers, and it is quite clear that there is an increasing demand for products offering a complete package that can assist with planning, teaching and assessing.
This is where we try and offer teachers some reprieve with our products— because we don’t want teachers to forget the joy and satisfaction that can be found in teaching children, and we want to make it easier for them to love their job.
Do you think there will be more of a ‘digital’ presence in the classroom in five years? What do you think the classroom of tomorrow will look like?  
While the world itself is becoming more and more digitally active, the key element for any learning is the face-to-face interaction and the quality of the relationship between the teacher and students. The skilled teacher is needed to plan and provide worthwhile learning experiences to their students. While more and more areas of the curriculum may be done on digital platforms in the next five years, the core concepts that need to be taught are best done by individuals–the teachers themselves, who are passionate about their students and their classroom environment, and who pride themselves on their students growing their knowledge and skills in the classroom. Digital technologies can certainly assist the teacher and their students; what is key is that digital technologies are carefully implemented, deployed and monitored in a way that enhances the expertise of skilled teachers and the curriculum.
Why does your product deserve to win at this year’s EPAs? Is there anyone you would like to acknowledge and thank for making this product the success it is?  
This innovative product is a must-have resource to creatively support the teacher’s maths program of work. The students love The Maths box, and so do teachers. The Maths box encourages and motivates maths learning and creates a positive attitude towards it in general. Given that the durable cards can be used over and over again, the series is great value for money at $275 per box. The boxes are a credit to the hard-working production, marketing and sales teams at R.I.C. Publications—our writers, typesetters, designers, editors, salespeople, social media and marketing teams, and various managers. All of their hard work and commitment to a quality product over two years resulted in the success of The Maths box series.
Lastly, R.I.C. Publications took out the Publisher of the Year Primary award last year – and you’re turning 30 this year! What does it mean to be recognised for your hard-work and success by the industry? And what do you think the key to longevity is in the ever-changing publishing industry? 
A lot has happened over the 30 years that R.I.C. has been operational, and the product which we are very proud of today bears little semblance to that was produced in 1986. We are pleased to say, however, that the ground rules that applied then, in the creation of new products, still exist today — that is, we look to solve problems and challenges that teachers encounter every day in the classroom. This remains the fundamental premise which underpins our decision-making at all levels and will always remain so.
It’s a huge honour that teachers place their trust in our company as they have done for 30 years.  We pride ourselves on providing teaching resources, that not only support the different areas of the Australian curriculum but are of a high quality. The key to longevity is maintaining this quality and keeping up to date with the needs of teachers.
Good luck and all the best R.I.C. Publications!
The Educational Publishing Awards are held on Thursday, 6 October at The Pavillion, Arts Centre Melbourne.