The Junior Secondary Student Resource category has by far the largest number of submissions, and of the 36 entries this year almost 70% include a digital component to look at alongside the print. Two of our panel of professionals gamely rolling up their sleeves and delving through this impressive array of publications are first-time judges Melanie Napthine and Alicia Brown.

Melanie Napthine, Publisher, Insight Publications
Melanie has a background in writing and editing for both educational and non-educational publications. She has particular experience and interest in English and EAL resources for secondary school level. For the past six years Melanie has worked at Insight Publications, an independent educational publisher specialising in English resources, where she is currently a publisher.
Melanie, how do you feel about being asked to judge the EPAAs? Excited. I’m very interested to see how the process works from the inside and very much looking forward to thinking in depth about and discussing a subject in which I’m obviously very interested, that is, quality educational publishing.
Why do you think the EPAAs are important for our industry? I think it’s very affirming for publishers and everyone else involved in the creation of a top-quality resource to see their hard work recognised by their peers/the industry. Educational publishing constitutes a significant slice of the Australian publishing industry, but doesn’t have the profile or ‘glamour’ of trade publishing, so it’s great to have a forum in which all the work and thought and care that goes into producing quality resources can be recognised.
Are there any challenges specific to educational publishing that you enjoy as part of your role? I love the challenge of creating innovative resources that meet students’ needs in a new and valuable way while remaining practical and workable. I both relish and sometimes tear my hair out over the challenge of working with teachers/writers to translate curricula and excellent teaching practice into book form.
What do you particularly value when reviewing an educational resource? Purposeful innovation is great; it’s exciting to see publishers trying new things especially in an evolving digital environment, but it’s important to stay focused on outcomes, i.e. the pedagogical aims of a resource and the needs it seeks to meet. Usability is also paramount; educational resources have to work especially hard to attract and engage end-users (mostly students) who may not always be keen or even willing consumers, so design and accessibility of language, etc. are obviously very important.
What’s the product or series you are most proud of having worked on in your career? Probably ESL for Year 12, first published in 2009 and now in its third edition, mostly because I was involved in and responsible for the book from conception and research to publication, and because it’s the only course book for Year 12 EAL students, a small market but one we felt deserved a textbook designed especially to cater to their unique needs and abilities.
Alicia Brown, Senior Learning Architect, Pearson
Alicia taught science and geography for over 6 years in both government and independent schools in Australia and the UK, and although she has been at Pearson for more than five years, she still considers herself an educator (and of course a learner!). Prior to her current role, Alicia was a senior publisher for Pearson. In her current role, Alicia leads a team of learning architects for the product development team, and is excited to explore the possibilities for developing resources that engage next generation learning and incorporate 21st century skills.
Alicia, how do you feel about being asked to judge the EPAAs? ​I feel really excited to get the opportunity to explore the best new products our industry are creating to engage and improve education in Australian schools.
​​Why do you think the awards are important for our industry? ​The EPAAs grow and develop the industry we all proudly work for, give our work a profile and award excellence. ​
​​Are there any challenges specific to educational publishing that you enjoy as part of your role? ​Yes, I enjoy so many aspects of my role, from the challenge of interpreting curriculum documents to develop and create an exciting course through to the opportunity to influence and excite learners and teachers in new ways which improve learning outcomes and ignite a real passion for the subject.
​​What do you particularly value when reviewing an educational resource? I value educational resources that make me feel excited by the content and learner experience captured in the resource. As a teacher I want the resource to make me feel equipped to provide exciting learning opportunities to my students and be a well thought out, complete package. I’m looking for something different…I don’t just want to be served up the same old content I can find online, it needs to be rethought with the student at the centre of the learning.
​​What’s the product or series you are most proud of having worked on in your career?​ ​I am proud to say I have worked on dozens of products in my publishing career, but I am most proud of Pearson Science. We had an amazing internal and external author team create this product from the ground up, rethinking science education, best practice in scientific literacy and a fresh and exciting design. The series truly provided a full teaching and learning package, making the teacher an expert while breathing a breath of fresh air into science education in Australian schools.